Posted by: GeekHiker | September 14, 2008

Another Solo Weekend

Friday at work I had lunch with a friend. She told me how much she was looking forward to her weekend because she was spending the time mostly alone. Time spent alone, she pointed out, was very important to her.

She’s not the first person to make the comment to me. Actually, most of the people I know tell me often about how much they crave/value/need time alone.

Of course, for them, it’s a choice. Time alone for me has never been anything special.

During our lunch we discussed the idea of time alone being special (in her case) vs. not special at all (that would be me). I’ve often said that, while I can understand the concept of needing to spend time alone, I can’t claim I understand the need. That part of it just doesn’t play a role in my life.

I think a big part of this is the fact that I’m an only child. I didn’t spend my childhood trying to keep my brother out of my room, or my sister from harassing me. Heck, I was a latchkey kid in every sense of the word: I came home from school at three and the house was mine until about five.

(Just a little side note: no, only children don’t get “lonely” because they don’t have a brother or sister. Not having had one, our brains don’t know what they’re missing, so it doesn’t factor in. Friends tend to be the surrogates, and The Best Friend has often in the past been the older sister I’ve never had. This includes being a shoulder to seek solace on and, on occasion, slapping me upside the head when necessary.)

Of course, I spent those two hours productively doing homework. *wink*

Not much has changed to this day. I’ve spent this entire weekend alone, without talking to another soul. Saturday I went out to a movie, spent the afternoon doing laundry/cleaning/errands, and Saturday night watching a DVD. Today, Sunday, being barred from hiking (damn knee), I ended up taking a long drive. Now I’m going back and forth between writing this post and watching old episodes of “The Office” on Netflix.

Now, bear in mind, I wasn’t lonely in either case. I didn’t come home as a kid, sit in the empty house, staring at the walls, pondering the lonely state of my life. I didn’t spend this weekend feeling overwhelmingly lonely, crying out to the heavens above for companionship.

But neither was the time anything special. I didn’t need to spend quality time by myself in the house. I didn’t need to spend a little “alone time” in the car, driving around in the mountains. It wasn’t something I desired or regretted. It just was.

And yet…

And yet I wonder sometimes if that’s always the case. I wonder because sometimes when I’m doing things, be it sitting alone in a movie theater, or driving along some back-country road, and I think to myself “this is cool”, if deep down somewhere I’m not wishing that I had someone, or multiple someones, there to share the experience with me.

Is wanting to share an experience with someone actually loneliness? Even though it doesn’t bubble to the surface in a whirlpool of despair, is it possible that I’m lonely at times without even consciously realizing it?

I don’t know the answers to those questions.

All I do know is that I found a shady picnic spot today, just off the road. While the temperature in the canyon hovered around 92, the temperature in the shade was perfect. I set up my chair and little table, popped open the ice chest and pulled out a sandwich, put some ice in a glass and sipped a cold coke. I ate and read a magazine, listened to the sound of the wind in the trees, watched as a baby snake (seriously, he was maybe six inches long, tops; actually kinda cute) slithered across the pine needles. It was peaceful.

I didn’t feel lonely.

But I sure wished someone else was there to share it with me.



  1. When life is really busy with a lot of social things to do I have times where I crave alone time.

    I do a lot by myself and don’t necessarily feel lonely but at the same time I’d certainly enjoy sharing it with someone. The thing for me is that I can’t just wait for that someone to be around or I could end up never leaving the house :D.

  2. I think that same question all the time. While I’m not wallowing in loneliness, while I am in fact content with being me and not checking in with someone and all that, I think I would, more than anything, actually like to share that time with someone. And I don’t really know what to do with that feeling. (But that picnic might have been just the ticket for me too.)

  3. That’s on par with my “happy but not content” feeling. I am happy and life is good, but I am not content NOT sharing certain moments with someone special. So I know what ya mean when you say you weren’t lonely, but it woulda been better to share that picnic with someone nonetheless.

  4. I was (sort of) an only latchkey kid, too, and I agree that you just learn to do stuff by yourself because you have to. I think those with siblings call us “independent”.

    It’s cool that you’re living your life and not waiting for someone else to make your life happen. As much as it sucks to wait, it will make you a better partner.

    But the waiting is a bit frustrating. Can make you want to climb a tree and shout “Here I am! I’m well-rounded and ready! I don’t need you but I want you!! Get here already!!.”

    Crazy thing is SHE is doing the exact same thing. The challenge is getting you both in the same tree.

  5. I really like this post. Thought provoking

    “Is wanting to share an experience with someone actually loneliness?

    Good question. I think wanting to share an experience with someone is simply more about the need to connect with someone in a very specific way.

    I’m in a long-term relationship and there are times even when we are physically in the same place, I feel quite far away from my guy — not that we’re not on the same page or not that I feel out of touch with him. I can’t explain it. But it’s not a bad feeling at all. It’s a way of getting alone time without the luxury of having the actual space to do it. That doesn’t make much sense and I don’t know if anyone could relate to what I’m trying to say…

    But it IS nice to be able to pop out of that ‘alone’ space and have someone to share experiences with when I want it. I don’t take that for granted for a second.

  6. Before I met the Wife, eating alone, sitting in a movie theater alone, and doing just about anything alone didn’t bother me. I was quite happy doing things by myself.

    Now that I’m married, eating alone stinks. Watching a movie in a theater alone – doesn’t happen. Doing about anything by myself feels weird – like something is missing.

    Having said all this, the Wife and I cherish the alone time just as much as the together time. ‘Too much of a good thing’ also applies to being with the one you love.

  7. I truly understand what you are saying. There were times before Mr. Dingo when I really wanted to share an experience with someone. Sometimes those experiences made me lonely. Sometimes I was able to enjoy the time alone knowing that having someone there, even someone I loved would somehow alter the experience. But, as Kara said, it was/is nice to be able to pop out of the alone space and have someone to share those experiences with.

    Mr. Dingo and I have together time, alone time, and together-alone time. The together-alone time is when we are connected, all is well, but we are doing our own thing and just enjoying doing our own thing in the presence of someone we love.

    That being said, there were many times when I was with my Ex that I felt alone and lonely. The together-alone time was not good. The alone time was not good. I think I would rather be really alone than to go through something like that again.

    I don’t know where I am going with this rambling comment that turned out to be more about me than about what you are going through. Sorry. Your posts tend to bring out the introspective Dingo.

  8. Okay, seriously. You’re gonna need to get outta my head. Seriously.

  9. I agree with you on the only child thing. I’m an only child and people ALWAYS ask if I wanted a brother or sister and felt lonely. I never felt lonely. For me that was the normal way just as it’s normal for other kids to have siblings.

    As for the lonely thing NOW as an adult… what I have experienced is that I do tend to need alone time. I still spend 97% of time alone, yet; when I’m with my friends (in trips and hang outs) or with family, after many hours I get anxious to have a moment of quite where I can be on my own. Which thinking about it from the perspective you just discussed here, is kind of crazy because I do crave to share my life with someone.
    Humans are so complicated.

  10. Just A Girl – I know how you feel. I try not to be a shut-in myself.

    Kristin – What to do with the feeling is the question, isn’t it?

    Charlotte Harris – Contentment. I wonder quite often if I’ll ever actually find that.

    TheCoconutDiaries – I agreed with you up until the end, but honestly? I’m no longer completely convinced there is a “she” in another tree.

    Kara – I guess I just wish I had the options.

    Homer-Dog – The sad part is that I’ve had it before in my life, so I know exactly what I’m missing!

    Dingo – It’s okay, and thanks for sharing.

    Ms. H – Sorry ‘bout that.

    Narami – Indeed we are, indeed we are…

  11. Living in the town you grew up in definitely makes you NEED alone time. Family and old friends continually infringe on your space, so you do have to carve out time to breathe and be by yourself.

    It is funny though how you can get really good at being alone when you’re single and then as soon as you’re in a relationship it’s like Homer Dog explained – being alone doesn’t feel so good. I think it’s just human nature to want to discuss and share experiences with other people. If you see a shooting star, isn’t it more fun to say, “Whoa did you see that?!” I think it is…although the star is no less beautiful if you see it without someone by your side.

  12. Just because one is alone, does not mean one is lonely.

    You’ll find contentment. You’re destined for it.

  13. While I love living alone and crave being alone when things get busy, my loneliness also gets overwhelming. Often. That despair bubble you speak of is always close to my surface.

  14. I’m an only child, too, and I think that’s partly WHY I crave alone time so much – I’m used it to it. Of course, I only crave alone time after I’ve spent a lot of energy with other people, in a crowd, making friends, etc. After about a day of alone time I start getting antsy for friends, plans, anyone to talk to. It’s an interesting balance and one I have only realized somewhat recently.

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