Aside

Alone (but not lonely?)

‘Cause it’s a bittersweet symphony, this life.
Trying to make ends meet, you’re a slave to the money then you die.
I’ll take you down the only road I’ve ever been down.
You know the one that takes you to the places where all the veins meet, yeah…..
Well I’ve never prayed, but tonight I’m on my knees yeah.
I need to hear some sounds that recognize the pain in me, yeah.
I let the melody shine, let it cleanse my mind. I feel free now.
But the airwaves are clean and there’s nobody singing to me now.

The Verve – Bittersweet Symphony

Speaking for myself, being solo (along with introversion) allows freedom like none other. No worrying about dependent children and/or partner, very little (if any) concern about my actions affecting family or friends during my travels, doing things on my time, etc. There are drawbacks from time to time, though. Here are a few that relate to my experience; everyone is different, of course.

- There are moments during my travels that are great to experience solo. However, there are some moments that are even better shared with another person (friend, family member, romantic partner).

- Sometimes it’s hard to put myself out there to meet people. It’s a double-edged sword: enjoying solo freedom while wishing to meet like-minded others.

- If I need a shoulder to cry on, there’s none available.

- If I need someone to talk to, no one is available. People have their own lives and, while living their own lives, forget about whoever isn’t in their immediate circle. (People also include friends & family.)

- If I buy groceries (or any heavy items for that matter), there’s no one to help.

- If I hurt myself, there’s no one around to check on me; I’d have to call a doctor or ambulance on my own. If I died any time soon it’d probably take time to find out because I’m solo and, because of issues that I’d rather not get into here, don’t have any true next of kin.

- Sometimes it’s possible to be in the midst of a crowd and still feel alone.

This list isn’t exhaustive. Are there other expatriates who experience these things (or anything else that I didn’t list)? How do you deal (if at all)? If you don’t experience these things, what are your secrets?

And all the wonders made for the earth
And all the hearts in all creation
Somehow I always end up alone
Always end up alone.

The Bee Gees – Alone

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6 thoughts on “Alone (but not lonely?)

  1. I sometimes feel this way, though less lately because I have been lucky enough to find a like-minded partner who supports me and doesn’t suffocate me. When I do feel lonely, however, I remind myself that I chose this expat life and that, despite the bumps in the road, I wouldn’t have it any other way! Every time I come home for a visit (which I’m doing right now) I remember why I left- not to say that I don’t enjoy coming home, but it’s just not for me right now. I love the exhilaration of being a foreigner in a distant land! Live it up while you can!

  2. This is a lovely piece. I think it really captures the best and not so best of solo travel. Usually I’m traveling with my family, but every now and then I like to jump in the car or on the train and go somewhere by myself, if only for a day. There’s something about being able to see and experience things on your own terms that makes the place ‘yours’.

    Now don’t laugh, but you might occasionally consider a tour – seriously! (You might want to avoid a retirees tour, but you never know…) We never went with a tour group before, but were recently in St. Petersburg Russia. The only way to really see the city is via a tour group, so my husband did some research and found a great two-day tour. (Most do a similar plan of the highlights in and around the city.) In our small but comfortable bus/van, there were 11 of us for 2 days (evenings free). Mostly expats: three late-40s Mexican best friends (all divorced or unmarried), a Canadian/Lebanese 40-something couple living in Dubai, a 20-something American couple living in Slovakia and us with our two teens. It was a quality tour, saw amazing things, incredibly knowledgeable guide and best of all, walls came down quickly. We all ended up truly enjoying each others’ company and perspectives. Never underestimate others’ interest in chatting and getting to know fellow travelers, even the old married types!

    • Spinster says:

      It’s something I’ve considered since my trip to Italy. I’ve heard that Rome is extremely crowded, so the next time I return and visit Rome, I figured that a tour bus would be a good idea. Thank you for the suggestion, and thank you for stopping by. :-)

  3. what a deep piece…..well, friends are the family that you choose, so you can find like minded individuals on your travels to mingle with and hopefully develop bonds. it’s hard if you are constantly on the go, but things can develop these days with skype, email, etc :) can join internet communities of travelers or how about a group travel like http://www.blackgirltravel.com/ or other groups like that to supplement your solo trips and create some relationships :)

    what about (okay, don’t laugh could be fun) craigslist ads to set up meeting someone in certain places so that you can enjoy the experiences with someone. male or female, just fun to meet new people. or maybe on meetup.com? i know with the craigslist you can make it more customized and weed through things.

    • Spinster says:

      Thanks for the heads up about Black Girls Travel. I’ll check it out. I’ve met a few cool people from Black Women In Europe, and joined InterNations earlier this year. I may try meetup.com too. While I’m not popular, I definitely appreciate the people that I’ve met so far, and hopefully there will be more friendships in the future.

      Thank you for stopping by. :-)

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