Only the lonely

Moving is a lonely
affair. I don’t know why this came as a surprise. It’s not like nobody ever
told me, because I have heard it from several people; but somehow it had not sunk
in until now.
In the beginning, you are
too busy unpacking and settling into your new place, getting your paperwork in
order, figuring out the fastest way to get the kids to school, getting a new
driver’s license or solving little crises, such as placing that emergency order of
heating oil, when you suddenly ran out and had to shower in freezing cold water
for a week. You learn a lot during those first few weeks. You don’t have time
to miss people; or rather, you don’t have time to realise that you do.
Then you slowly start
getting your routine back. The kids are settling into school. You organise the
first birthday party. You have a family doctor. You relax, occasionally. And that’s
when you realise that there is something missing from your honeymoon – besides
the warm weather. It’s the social life. You know when you don’t have one. If
you threw a housewarming party tomorrow, the guest list would consist of six
people – and you would hope that they would all show up. You are grateful for
and to these six people. They have been welcoming and generous and you owe them
your life and your sanity. This would have been a totally different experience
had it not been for them. But at the same time it is a totally different experience from what you are used to.
You don’t miss the
crazy, action-packed weekends, but the quiet, mellow weekends feel kind of
weird. The weekly soccer league games were not always the highlight of your Saturday
(particularly when your kid had to be at the soccer field at 8am in the pouring
rain), but at least they gave some structure to the weekend. Now that there is
a break until after Christmas, you’re a bit lost and your children are bored
and that is one of the last things you want to have to deal with.
On the other hand, those uneventful weekends also feel kind of good. You can’t remember the last time you spent a Sunday
afternoon reading a book; or cooking dinner in peace rather than sandwiched
between two other social activities. You don’t really mind. Part of you seeks the slowness. Part of you starts to enjoy
the solitude.
And part of you worries
that you will get used to enjoying the solitude. It’s scary, because it’s not
you. Maybe it has been such a long time since the last time you were that
self-sufficient, processing so much by yourself, that you have forgotten that person
can be you. So you try to enjoy the
change, but you can’t help thinking that it is only temporary; that things will
change with time. In fact, you are impatient for things to change. Because self-sufficient
or not, you like being around people.

4 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    The grass is always greener on the other side! If you have too many activities, you are like a machine and dont enjoy it and if it is too slow, you feel isolated and bored… with time: you will find the rythm… i like to have both.. but finding the right people to enjoy: takes time and effort… it is a lot of input at the beginning but then results will show with time…

    1. You're right, finding activities – and a balance with the right level of activities and "down time" – can be managed if you have good resources. With Internet, that's easy. Finding the right people, on the other hand, will take a while. Well-said about the up-front input that pays out with time 🙂

  2. Emilie

    So, I feel like it's time for a comment again as I've been reading your blog regularly.
    What I noticed is that I don't really know you I guess. Well I have known you for quite some time, but obviously before reading this blog I hadn't spent too much time thinking about what's going through your head. What has hit me is how much I can relate to 90% of your posts. I'm not a mother, I'm not married, I don't have any academic titles and I'm less than half your age (not trying to make you feel old, just comparing! 😉 But I spent the last year in England thinking about a lot of the same things and now in Canada I'm going through most of it all over again.
    In England, I didn't have too many activities going on (compared to life in Vienna!) and at the end of the day, that's probably part of the reason I felt uncomfortable there at times and did not feel like I belong. Here in Canada I'm way too busy most of the time, fortunate enough to have multiple groups of friends who ask me to hang out and complain about me always being gone 😉 My point is, that it was really interesting to have a lot of alone time and uneventful days, but I definitely discovered that that's not me. Of course life becomes more stressful and I load myself with way too much at once and occasionally fall due to the weight, but then it's just about getting on again.
    So if I can add my own opinion to your post, if you're not the slow and lonely kind of person then I'd just propose going out and looking for activities – which can be hard of course, but definitely beats waiting around for things to change. Change rarely ever just happens and it's definitely healthier in the long run to be around people 🙂

  3. See, another positive side-effect of this blog. Good to know what goes through your head, too – and that it's very similar despite all the differences 🙂

    You get to know different sides of yourself when you become a foreigner, such as strengths that did not necessarily surface before, because they were not needed. You get a much better idea of what you want in life when you (often) have to build a life from scratch. It's good practice!

    Thank you for your advice, it makes a lot of sense. It is actually what I tried to do the last time I felt that lonely, which was, like you, when I left home to go to graduate school in North America 🙂

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