I think like many, I used to judge a person who spent a holiday alone as the epitome of sadness. “How sad that this person has not another in this world who would want to spend the day with them…”, not understanding that maybe it was a conscious choice they made.
Last year at this time, was my first foray into a holiday alone. 4th of July festivities are not that large of a deal for me anymore, but the reminder that I was alone rang strong and clear, especially when I couldn’t even find room at the pool to at least BE around others. So I limped emotionally home, closed myself off to the world and had a pity party.
In retrospect though, I think I felt sad and alone more because of the aforementioned idea that I was to be pitied, and not because I was actually lonely. This year I took a different stance. I knew my daughter had plans, as did the few local friends I had. I could have easily weasel a invitation to some sort of a shin dig. But again, I reminded myself, that the idea of not being alone, and the reality of enjoying it — were two different things. I learned to get out to the pool and score myself a spot. I lathered myself up with sunscreen (not enough), made myself a cocktail and headed out to the pool before the crowd did. It was empty enough initially that I could play my music without disturbing the only other person out there, another single woman who’s adult children were also out and about. We talked for hours comparing small insignificant life stories, until she headed her way and I headed mine. The crowds for the pool headed out and I reconnected with a few friendly neighbors that I usually only see during the summer months.
As the evening drew closer, in my solitude I decided to pamper myself with slightly decadent treats. I headed to the store and bought a nice little wedge of Brie, paired it with some crackers and hummus. Picked up a little container of rich gelato, and came home to a long movie that I had been putting off because I never seemed to have the time for it. I could hear the music playing Elton John thru the loud speakers that reached across the street from the lake. I could have walked over there, and immersed myself into the joviality. But honestly, I was really enjoying this semi-quiet time.
I was alone — but I was not lonely. I cried, but they were tears of drama from an exceptionally good movie, not tears of self-pity.
Sometimes I get a little worried that I enjoy my alone time too much. Sometimes I wonder if I am slowly creating that little old lady who closes herself off to opportunities of socializing, using her location as a barrier. Perhaps. But whoever said that little old lady was unhappy? Besides when I do have my social time I think I appreciate the people and the events, that much more.