So you think you're lonely. Well, my friend, I'm lonely too.
In years past, I always called myself a loner, for lack of a better word. I spent much of my time growing up in my room. That’s where all the things that I enjoyed were located. My writing, my art supplies, my stereo and record collection, my guitar.
I never got sent to my room as a punishment. First of all, I wasn’t a bad kid. How much trouble could I get into when I was always engaged in one of those activities in my room? But even when I did do something that my folks decided warranted retribution, they knew that sending me to my room wasn’t an effective punishment.
In more recent years, as more has been written about the difference between introverts and extroverts, I’ve come to recognize that I’m a casebook example of an introvert.
Some of the proofs of that: I enjoy spending time alone. I hate crowds and noisy environments. A little socializing goes a long way – too much and I’m absolutely drained. While I like credit for my accomplishments, I’m also uneasy being in the spotlight. I often find myself in the situation of not knowing what to say – I’ll think of the perfect response a couple of hours later. In fact, I’m usually much more comfortable writing my thoughts than speaking them.
When I met Linda, I discovered that she was the perfect companion for me. On the introvert-extrovert scale, she’s a little more in the middle. She loves spending time with people. Last year during COVID – the first one – was difficult for her. She was able to deliver her piano and voice lessons online, but she missed actually being with her students. However, she likes her alone time, too.
But here’s the thing: I don’t ever get tired of being with her.
I’ve encouraged her to let me know when she needs her alone time, and I’m happy to take my leave for however long she needs or wants. But we can spend hours, days, weeks together, and I never feel drained. In fact, I can actually “recharge” when I’m with her.
Fin, the male protagonist in my SpiritSense novels, is modeled very closely after myself. There’s a chapter in First Light in which he’s talking to Suzy about his life after his divorce from his wife, which was not fiction at all:
“I spent my free time alone. Usually writing or browsing Facebook or watching TV.
“I usually didn’t even bother to open the blinds. So, in that sense, they were dark times. I’d just sit there in my dim little apartment all alone and depressed.
“Once in a while, I’d realize that I wasn’t going to make new friends by staying by myself in my apartment. So I’d get myself cleaned up and dressed and go out to one of the popular hangouts in the area.
“And then I’d sit there and eat and drink all alone. I was still shy….
“So, feeling discouraged, I’d finish my lonely dinner and drink, pay the bill, and retreat back into my comfortable little hermit life until I felt the need to venture out again.”
That was my life after my divorce. Then, I met Linda. It wasn’t love at first sight. There was definite attraction, but the love grew in time. And that’s when I started to realize how different she was from anybody I had ever known before.
While Suzy is very different from Linda, the dynamics of Suzy and Fin’s relationship are very much like ours. As Fin continues:
“You want to know something that I’ve just realized? Being an introvert, I need time alone after spending time with other people. Except with you. You’re the only person I know who doesn’t greatly extend my necessary recharge time. In fact, if anything, you accelerate it. I feel energized whenever I’m with you.”
Suzy looked at him for a moment, her eyes narrowed a bit, her face introspective.
“My first inclination was to make a smartass comment about you getting all mushy. But I realized that I feel the same way. You’re easy to be with.” Fin glanced at her with a smile. “You’re even-tempered and laid-back. You don’t get all pushed out of shape about something I’ve said, even if it was a smartass remark.”
At the risk of sounding like a braggart, I’m comfortable saying that Linda and I have the closest thing to a perfect marriage that I’ve ever known.
So, by now, you’re probably wondering why I chose that line from Journey’s song Lights as the title of this blog post. Because Linda’s in Hawaii for three weeks. It’s not a vacation. An old childhood friend of hers is undergoing chemo and Linda, being who she is, went out there to help her out. Five and a half days down, fourteen to go.
We’ve had contact during that time, by text messaging, phone and by Skype, but it’s not the same. Just like she missed actually being with her students during COVID, I miss actually being with her now.
And, with her giving her music lessons online, and me working my regular job (which requires that I go to bed early and get up early), besides being separated by a four-hour time difference, that severely limits when we can even have that little bit of contact.
Three weeks is the longest we’ve been apart. Well, that’s not entirely true. We were apart for years before, but we hadn’t met yet, so we didn’t know any better. But three weeks is definitely the longest we’ve been apart since we met.
Sure, I can go out and have a little interaction with people in a restaurant. I can go on Facebook and have some shallow interchanges with my online friends. But it won’t be the same.
Mine is a very specific loneliness. I’m a Samsung Galaxy at 5% and I’m surrounded by iPhone chargers.