24 Nov Solitude seems to be a lonely word
When I was 36, I wrote a feature story for the now defunct magazine, Homemakers. My first sentence: “I am 36 and I feel disconnected.” I thought of this story when I read the Globe and Mail’s front page weekend story: “Life of Solitude: a loneliness crises is looming.”
The feature mentioned the staid facts that yes, there are more single people in Canada than ever before, and yes, we, as a society, are a selfish lot that retreat to our homes and don’t care about what is outside our own front doors. Okay. But, I also believe the author forgot to mention one huge concept: North Americans are an individualistic society. In Spain, or Italy for example, one could conceivably go to a friend’s house on a Saturday afternoon without having an appointment. One could ‘drop in’ without making prior arrangements.
As a single woman, I certainly feel outside the norm of ‘couples.’ I’m sure this might not be the case if I was in an urban centre, Toronto, but then again, that isn’t true either. I had a friend from the Maritimes, a sassy, smart lady, move to downtown Toronto. She left after one year; she never felt more alone in Canada’s largest city.
Ok, so I can’t really do the ‘drop in’ thing here in my town of London, but I have certainly begun doing things I love and I think singles have a responsibility to fill up their time. For example, I have rediscovered sewing. I’m not particularly good at it–my latest sweatshirt creation is more like a muscle shirt, showing more belly than I would like, but for a few hours, I’m completely immersed. A naked Jian Ghomeshi at the door couldn’t get me to stop sewing. Well, anything else but that.
I also argue that one could be in a relationship and feel immensely lonely. I know many. Just because you sit down to supper across from someone every day does not mean that you feel connected and comforted. A world can sit between you.
This summer I ran into someone I hadn’t seen since high school. “You always seemed like a loner in high school,” he said to me. I took this as a complement. Really. How cool is it to know you can amuse yourself and be your own best friend? It’s not to say I don’t love people–anyone who knows me realizes that I am a huge extrovert–it’s the reason I travel: to meet people. I get a huge rush from being around creative individuals. But, at the heart of it, I know that I can rely on myself for my own happiness.
I do miss the ‘drop in’ thing. I wish this wasn’t the case here; I wish I felt like more of a community–but then again, I have a choice. When I feel like I need to be around people and part of a community, I go to my bar, The Morrissey House. Or, I could always move. And that my friends, is the freedom of singledom–something for another post.