Solitude

4:25 PM

Funny how pictures turn out blurrier than expected.....

This marks seven hours since my roommate/best friend/big-sister-I-always-wanted left for home. It's just me in our tiny bedroom now. She left her peanut butter, half a Poptart, and some Great Value canned chicken on the shelf.

Today marks the start of a month alone. Not alone alone. Two housemates live here, plus Ra, the polydactyl cat. Just alone in the sense that all the people who know me best live millions of miles away. And I'm tired of dating and hanging out with my phone.

My extroversion emerges only when my people leave, strangely. When the house is quiet, when I haven't bumped into anyone but the cat all day, when her side of the room is empty, my extroversion creeps out. Blubbering, of course. That's when I realize how much I love people, how much I love loving people, how much I love being loved by people. All my writing project plans and workout plans and room cleaning plans pale in comparison to being home and doing nothing with my people.

I didn't eat lunch. I spent most of my time after church curled up on my bed, staring into five weeks of devastating loneliness.

It's funny how different being a twosome is from being a lonesome. For one thing, there aren't as many people around to eat out the borderline expired stuff in the fridge and freezer. I've been eating leftover pizza for days. That's why I didn't eat lunch. I just didn't feel up for days-old pizza.

I'm silent without my roommate. When she's around, I talk to myself, laugh at myself, and bounce down the stairs to tell her about myself. When she's gone, myself and I stare at each other, awkwardly waiting for our mutual friend to come back and resume the conversation.

I do strange things when my roommate's not here, like put away dishes and scrub counters and set a reminder to wipe down the disgusting kitchen trash can. That's all I feel up to doing without people -- manual tasks. My creativity blanks. It's the extrovert in me. Or maybe the romantic. Maybe I'm one of those poetic artistic types who relies heavily on a friend or significant other to be her muse.

My mother spent the majority of her twenty-something years living alone. She told me this blip of not-even-technically-solitude will help me relate to those who live alone. My heart went all soft and sad at this reminder -- I'm living alone by choice. Many people live alone because they don't have a choice. They might not even have a happy family in Wisconsin or a boyfriend or a best friend just a phone call away. And they have to live with the empty rooms and the cats (though hopefully not the pop music blasting from a couple backyards down the street). That's their life. Not a stepping stone to the next stage of their life but just...life.

Somehow they survive -- and with joy, too, of all things. Solitude is sanctifying? Solitude is the space where Christ comes in? I don't know.

But it's just five weeks, with visits from out-of-town friends and the boyfriend on a few weekends. I'm going to scrape out as much creativity, sanctification, and empathy I can from these five weeks of solitude. At least, I'll try.

Have you ever lived alone? How did you handle it? Any tips?

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4 impressions

  1. You know...come to think of it...I have *never* lived alone! I did have my own dorm room when I was a junior, but it was still in the dorm. I shared the same floor bathroom with 35 other girls. And my room was right next to the main entrance. So, I'd just prop my door open when I was feeling lonely, and anybody and everybody would pop in on their way out or their way in to say hi.

    Dave has been at camp this past week while I've been in town. I find that I'm talking to myself more rather than less. (I'm not crazy. It's just thinking out loud, you know.) I, too, am getting a lot of cleaning and decluttering done. I've also been reading more. (Jane Austen, anyone?) Naturally, I'm re-watching BBC Austen movies as a result.

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    1. Nooo. Are you one of the Austen BBC purists? ;)

      Your junior dorm experience sounds like my freshman dorm experience! I loved all the friendly girls. We had an open doors policy too, so everyone kind of expected people to barge in and chat.

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  2. It's interesting, because I feel like I'm the opposite of you when it comes to how my extroversion responds to being alone. I'm a social extrovert, at least, and maybe emotional too. But, when college gets out for the summer and I don't go and see friends every day, I don't plan social events. I tend to just sit around and do. absolutely. nothing. Like maybe read, and definitely play piano. And sleep, and eat. Granted, all this is when I'm home with my family, which definitely wouldn't count as anywhere near alone for an introvert, but it's too close to alone for me. Instead of my extroverted-ness freaking out and planning hang-out times and stuff, it's more like it's slowly strangled to death, and I sink into, more or less, depression. And then I don't want to take the effort it takes to plan something fun to do. Granted, I never want to plan anything, except for the brainstorming part.

    So, I have absolutely no real-life experience to go on, but if I were to live alone I think I would try to live where social activities could be found with little or no effort. For example, I want to transfer to Columbia College Chicago, and I'm sure I could always find something to do in the city. Secondly, I would plan weekly or so activities that I would go to rain or shine unless I had a super compelling reason not to. I think that would break me out of it. I get energized just being around people; I don't actually have to interact with them. But, the more I don't, the more I want to. So, in practice, I could probably convince myself to go to Panera Bread or something (will leave house for food!) and then sit there for half an hour and then get energized enough to figure out what to do next. Whether or not I was working at home would also make a difference. I might go insane if I did.

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    1. Yeah, that's definitely different from me! I love making plans....but only in theory and only involving my closest friends. Incidentally, you sound like my younger self. Weird how I've grown out of extroversion.

      In any case, I hope you never have to live alone ---- or if you do, that you live across the street from a Panera.

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