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The Trick To Aloneness Is Not Feeling Lonely.

I’ve been in a weird place lately.

That pillow is disgusting.

It sometimes happens when Justin’s gone for extended periods, and it’s made worse, it seems, by the fact that I’ve neglected to build myself any sort of real-life social network in our new home. I’ve started building pillars, for sure, but the mortar has yet to dry.

I’m still trying to do what I said I do here. Trying to make friends. Trying to make plans. Trying to fix the house. Trying to learn. Trying to grow.

I bought an old-fashioned push mower because I couldn’t get our 10-year-old Rusty McGrumpsterson started and spent hours just adjusting the blades and gnawing through our foot-tall, bedraggled, excuse for a lawn.

I took this photo and sent it to Justin because I couldn't get the socket thingie on the wrench thingie. Turns out I was using the wrong wrench thingie.
I took this photo and sent it to Justin because I couldn’t get the socket thingie on the wrench thingie. Turns out I was using the wrong wrench thingie.

It helped a little.

See, It’s like I have all the time in the world and so I have no time at all.

Trying to explain this quandary is difficult. It makes me sound like a wealthy woman begging for change. A healthy newborn requesting more time. A GPS asking for directions.

I’m a deluded sieve with a dream of holding water. The loose-jointed molecules glide through my grip, my hands coated in lubrication for extra instability. I have so much space in my life and so many things to fill it with that I can only stare in paralysis as the slippery stuff slides past.

Instead of choosing productivity, I involve myself in moderating other peoples’ lives — challenging them from on-high to study and explain their own secret chess moves because the truth is, I don’t even know how to play.

I talk to my dogs more than any sane person should. We don’t have actual conversations, because those would require response, and I haven’t fallen that far off the cliff.


But there’s this weird thing that can happen in the world when you start to feel particularly alone but refuse to accept it. In response to a challenge extended by my sister to take my own advice and join a Meetup group for some social interaction, I joined several and participated fully by sitting back and watching their activities for weeks until it dawned on me that watching a Meetup group isn’t the same actually meeting up with a Meetup group. So, after ruling out many of the appealing wine  and craft beer tasting options that would also unfortunately require me to drive long distances — and through tunnels beneath the Chesapeake Bay, no less — I settled on one with a much lower risk of public intoxication among strangers and the subsequent potential for vehicular homicide.

Italian lessons.

I’d already started dinking around with a clever little app on my phone (Mind Snacks, for those who are interested), and I was walking around my house saying things like, Molto bene, e tu? and Ay, formaggiin a ridiculous Italian accent, so I thought maybe it’d be fun to take real lessons from a real Italian and maybe meet a couple of interesting people at the same time.

So last week I drove to a quaint Italian brasserie and market in Virginia Beach, forked some cash over to a chic European woman, attempted to order food in a foreign language for the first time in years, and, once again, opened myself to something new.

The place was tiny, maybe ten tables at most squeezed down the length and imposed upon by burly glass cases stuffed with a smorgasbord of charcuterie and rich, cheesy pastries. These were my people.

Our group of 6 was incredibly eclectic — each individual bringing a different ethnicity and life experience to our cozy little table. These were people with whom my path might never have crossed in normal, day-to-day life, yet our interest in a foreign culture connected us in that moment. For the next couple of hours, we immersed ourselves in the awkwardness that comes with learning a new language — stumbling over idiosyncrasies and the rolling of “r’s,” like toddlers again just learning to speak — to work the words through our teeth and our tongues. It was funny and embarrassing and difficult and enlightening.


I will definitely be going back.

Later that night, I had a friendship request on Facebook from a member of the group. After following proper online stalking procedures prior to acceptance, I realized we had not one, but seven Facebook connections in common. It turns out that this member of my Italian meetup group was friends with a number of people he’d met while contracting in Germany — the same set of military folks I’d made friends with years before while stationed in Valdosta, Georgia. He’s also friends with my cousin, whom  he’d met in Germany as well.

And after I moved past the moment of omg you know so-and-so? it hit me, like BAM!


I mean, we say it all the time — it’s a small, small world, right? But sometimes it feels big. So ridiculously big, and it makes you feel small, and maybe alone, but remember — you just remember that you’re never far from someone you know. Or someone who knows someone you know.

And that pretty much means that we’re surrounded by acquaintances all of the time.

And that makes it worth trying, right? To do more? To experience more? To be more?

It’s encouraging, I think.


The sunset on the way home was the preamble to my little epiphany — just a moment of intimacy between me, my Tracker, and the James.

I didn’t feel lonely then.

I don’t feel lonely now.

Have you ever had a weird moment of connectedness? Met a stranger who knew some of your people? Tell me about it. It’s pretty groovy.


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Good for you! Sounds like fun.


It WAS fun!


Sounds like you had a blast! I thought I was the only one who watched meetup groups haha. I love seeing the different places they have gone and I get excited thinking about joining them but then I get nervous about being around people who are strangers to me but probably know eachother from the group and I won’t fit in blah blah. So glad you went – I will definitely have to start trying some new stuff too :-)


I did have a blast! And hopefully it inspired you to give it a try. Pick a group you’ve been stalking that gives you a good vibe, and remember that even though many of them might now each other already, they all know what it’s like to be the new person in the group. And if you hate it, you never have to see any of them again. ;) Let me know if you try it out!


I think I get this. I’m spending a decent amount of time home alone right now (which for the most part I love) but there are times when my need for connection is evident and I become irritable. Perhaps lonely precedes the irritation but I just don’t notice. Anyway, it’s definitely a red flag for me to refuel my tank before I go into self destruct mode ;)


YES. Alone time is fantastic, but when I get *too* much of it, I really start to crave social interaction. I had a great conversation with a friend last night — I told her I feel like I’m an extrovert, but I really cherish my alone time. It’s when I do the best work, but physically and spiritually. And she said, “No — that makes you an introvert. Because it’s how you RECHARGE that determines what you are. You can be bubbly and sociable and love people, but at the end of the day if you crave alone time to recharge your energy, you’re an introvert.”

So I guess that’s me. And yes, I’m guessing the irritation is a symptom of loneliness. But rather than recognizing it as such, you just skip right to the solution. Which is pretty awesome. :)


Loved your post….I am American living in Italy…..if you ever want to try to write in Italian….possiamo scriverci! Mi piace il tuo blog! Brava!


Grazie!! I can tell from the title of your blog alone that I am going to get lost in it. And actually, I have a question (or six) for you… sending you an email! :)

Colleen Brynn

So yes. Lots of weird moments of connectedness. This world is too small.
But I just want to say this – you are never alone. We can always share a glass of something bubbly or red over Skype, anytime you want, just like you offered when I had that sad solo new years and I know you felt bad about that. Buah!
They say if you want something done, give it to a busy person… and I can relate to this feeling of paralysis. I almost feel like that with my year off from school. SO much to do… but where to begin? There is so much to do, that I am frozen. I think baby steps and little nibbles are best. This looks like a step in the right direction. You are probably miles from where you were when you wrote this post, but just want to give you my support and send you some fuzzy vibes.


I’m not miles from it — baby steps. But I’m working on the motivation thing. :) I’m up for a Skype “date” anytime! And yeah — not sure if you’re back in Winnipeg, but I’m going to be as far as Sparta, Wisconsin here in just over a week. If you have time, we could meet up in Minneapolis, or I could *maybe* be convinced to go the rest of the way. It’s a long drive still, but I haven’t been to Canada in years!

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