Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Reflections on Solitude

When, almost two years ago now, I gave up my cubicle, it was with some trepidation. Not because I thought I'd miss the soft grey walls, squeaky chair, and lack of privacy - or my frequently dysfunctional team of coworkers (sorry, guys). I just had a hunch I might have difficulty getting my fill of people time. Time alone is good too, and some people - many, I suppose - have more trouble finding that. But for me, to feel like things are right with the world also requires getting a good two hours a day with other human beings.

For those of us who are single and working from home, sometimes that doesn't happen.

It all went better than I thought it might, though, at least when I lived in Denver. I had a roommate and a regular list of pleasant and convenient haunts; I frequently got together with friends, and my motivation to participate in church activities, go to the rec center, etc. was high enough that life felt pretty well in balance. It actually worked a lot better for me than the old office-cubicle arrangement, which tended to force me into awkward and unfruitful rhythms and drain me of the energy to take much social initiative. I had a lot of lonely weekends. After I moved out of the office, it was only if I was trying to meet a project deadline - or felt I should be - that I would I say no to meetings and other outings. If I played the hermit for more than a day or so at a time, however, I'd start feeling out of sorts and out of touch.

I left Denver 11 weeks ago, and I've been living alone for just three weeks. (See Experimenting with Autonomy.)

Man, what a long three weeks! Even with the holidays in there.

I do have a lot to do, so I'm trying to stay home and focus on my work.  I'm not being as productive as I'd like to be; it doesn't seem to be working. But I'm trying. Unfortunately my neighborhood offers no reasonable places to "office" any closer than a marginally pleasant Starbucks a couple miles away. I do need to work (and to study), and my work is solitary. I can't just pitch it all and go be social. But being alone so much is driving me crazy. I'm dying for people to talk to.

I guess I really do need those two hours a day with people.

Chris and I do our best to see each other daily, but he and the kids are all busier than I am, so it's hard to get much quality time. And to lean on just one person for it? Well, that's not the best idea. I'm looking forward to living together (being married) in June. I think my need for people time will go way down at that point. Though I will still try to avoid expecting Chris to meet all my needs.

My current housemates, Robert and Linda, come back to the States in early April. So that will probably be the end of my experiment with living alone. I'll be glad to see it come to a close. Meanwhile, between now and then, I'll be on the road about a third of the time. That's unsettling in a different way, and it may keep me from being able to put down deeper roots in Eugene. But it will give me meaningful time with human beings.

If you a person who prays, maybe you could pray for me to navigate this season of solitude with grace and openness.


Greg Fritz said...

Thanks Marti. I am home alone this week after a noisy holiday with family. (Nancy is in Seattle.) I think I will attempt to follow your lead and write a blog on this topic from my perspective.

Megan Noel said...

mom and i were talking about this and the only way we've found to meet people (besides church) is through art / crafts. because it's hard to just connect with someone if you don't go into it with something in common. though you may well have better social skills than i have. i have met some nice women at the knitting club i am currently skipping. (not very intimate relationships, i don't even know any of their last names but it is a start.) it's too bad you never DID take up knitting or spinning! a reading group would be another idea. i'll join one of those someday...

Marti said...

Greg, I will look for your post!

Megan, since I don't really like to do arts and crafts, it might not count as something in common... but you make a good point, it's hard to connect without such commonalities. Linda did introduce me to a family I have a lot in common with, but it was right before she left town, so it's a little awkward to presume on the slim connection. May try to do so anyway!

L. Grimaud said...

Hey Marti, Man we are so sorry to have left you there by yourself.
We are thankful to God though that you were available and willing to take on this task of living alone for awhile. We appreciate you so very much!
I will send you the starting date of the ladies Bible study on Tuesdays and encourage you to go. They are great gals and it should be a very good study. Linda :D

Marti said...

Thanks, Linda! Having a few weeks with you guys on arriving was a huge blessing; I didn't know how living alone would go, really. It =is= an experiment for me! And who knows, I might miss it when it's over. But it's good to try this out.

Thanks for the info on the study!

Megan Noel said...

i can see we are opposites. i could not convince myself to go to knitting last night because it was cold and rainy and i was not feeling so great... then today i got in a conversation with a weird stranger on the bus and realized i had not spoken to another person since sunday and that was probably why i was willing to talk to weird person on bus. but i actually am lonely, just not motivated to do anything about it.

a life without walls said...

I lived along for the first time for a season before I got married, it was only 7 or 8 weeks, but it was really weird. I was very isolated becasue of my geographical location. Although I was alone, I wasn't sad and alone. Looking back now I am so greateful for that time of solitude, I did marry and my lovely husband is a talker(he sleep talks too)...we lived in 'community' and shared accomodation for alomst 2 years also. I pray that your time alone will be rich and help you prepare for the new life you will be embarking on, full of young people, a husband and all the other people that will come into your life through them. In the meantime I suggest a good TV drama with characters that re-occur each episode. The TV sitcomdrama - genius invention!

Marti said...

Ha! I think it's funny that your husband talks in his sleep. My husband-to-be, when we are together, tends to do most of the talking but doesn't seem to realize it. But when I'm left alone I talk to =myself= enough that I sometimes don't notice I'm doing it in public, too...

Re: TV drama - yes. I have a netflix account!