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.