Summertime dawns, bursting with potential. With the blooming of the trees comes a breeze of excitement, the possibilities endless at the beginning of the hottest season of the year- literally and figuretively. Everyone treats summer as if it is a Friday- thank goodness it’s here. I, too, fall under the intoxicating spell of a summer breeze. Easily, I drift into the spirit of the summer. I shed layers, expose my shoulders to the sunshine and put on my aviators. I dine outside in the shade come evening, attend barbeques and small talk along with the rest of the revelers, immersed in the whirlpool of summertime.
What do I do, though, on a beautiful Friday night in the summer, alone? For so long I isolated myself- locked myself far away in a tower, with no one even asking me to throw down my long hair, a Rapunzel cloistered and hidden. Now, when I actually enjoy the niceties of being social, when I seek to interact, to participate, I find myself down in the doldrums when there is nothing to be done. It isn’t always that everyone is out having fun without me, like I imagined when I used to occasionally have a pity-party for my sixteen year old self. I know that often, despite the accolades that summer recieves, it is a sleepy time for relaxation and laying low. It is a time for cottaging, for escaping the city. But when I sit here alone, I wonder what I could be doing to really entertain myself, to bust out of my rut.
There’s a fine line between being alone and being lonely. Sometimes, I’m perfectly content to be alone. One of my favorite activities is sitting alone in a café, writing or reading, sipping on a steaming cup of coffe. Surrounded by the vivacity of everyday life, I am content in my solitude. I delight in the low murmur of conversations, even when I’m not really listening to what is being said (unless it’s really interesting). Most often, when I’m alone and surrounded by others I don’t know, or even by faces I recognize, I am not lonely. I can be home alone without being lonely, too. My puppy and I might enjoy a chick-flick, flaked out on the couch after a long day. I can lie on my bedroom floor and breathe, listening to the purr of cicadas in the garden, meditating or merely being. I can light the candles and spark up the John Mayer and enjoy a solitary dinner plated on a beautiful piece from Anthropologie, delighting in savouring with all my senses.
Loneliness is, therefore, not merely the result of being on my own. For the most part, I think I’m actually kind of awesome company. Being at peace with being alone has been one of my bigger breakthroughs. Combining being alone with being healthy, relaxed, and at ease has been monumental. There are still, however, nights like tonight when I can sense the pulse of excitement just outside my grasp and long to be with others. Tonight, I am lonely. The feeling of loneliness, for me, involves longing. I am longing to be with friends, to talk and laugh, to enjoy. Even though I don’t let loneliness get me too far down, it is still a bit distressing to find myself without anything I have to do or really even want to do. Sure, I can read, write, listen to music. I could even bust out my inner nerd (not so inner nerd?) and play Scrabble online. I know none of these things will quite hit the loneliness in the same way that social interaction would, tonight. But its for me to accept that being social is just not always in the cards. The very fact that I want to be social is a step, the knowledge that in the past few months I’ve been more social than the entire preceeding year is powerful.
Tonight, I am lonely. But not lost.