My Love Affair With Solitude

By: Nia Alavezos

I love my solitude. In fact, I enjoy it way more than I should. I yearn for those moments alone while I’m stuck in traffic so I can get a few extra minutes with my thoughts before jumping head first into the workday. I always find myself cancelling plans with friends because the thought of giving up my precious alone time on the weekends sends shivers through my soul. Am I weird? Is there some unrooted problem that needs to be investigated because I love being alone so much? Should I go see a shrink? Probably, I’m almost 99.9% sure. I might even be crazy. But do I care? Absolutely not.

If I were hosting my own TV show, this is where I would look at the camera and proudly display my best smug face. I love my alone time and I wouldn’t let anything get in the way of it. You might be asking then, “Wait – do you live alone, Nia?”

Actually, I live with my husband and our sassy two-year-old cat named Rey. (Yes – the same Rey from the new Star Wars films. Spoiler alert: we might be nerds)

I forget that I’m not alone sometimes. We can be in the same room, but in totally different worlds – basking in our thoughts while reading, watching something on the TV, or simply creeping the depths of the Internet. We don’t feel the need to perform in front of each other or go through great lengths to keep each other in conversation as the day progresses. We can comfortably sit there in silence for hours – days even, if we had to. That’s what I love the most about him.

Just the other night, while my husband was out, I decided it was a perfect opportunity to blare some David Bowie music throughout our apartment. I turned the music as high as I could, trying not to disturb the neighbors, as the chorus to Space Oddity filled with room. I might’ve had a glass of wine or two, and felt the sudden urge to get up and dance.

Though, in my tipsy-induced state, my idea of dancing was more or less swaying to the music and pounding my fists in the air every time “ground control” was uttered. I was even attempting to sing along to the lyrics, butchering them obviously, as I tried to kid myself that I actually remembered the words to the song. Just then I realized that I had an audience. I could feel this presence in the room, a small gray shape sitting in the corner. I slowly turned to discover my cat, stuck in a mid-grooming pose, staring at me.

Usually her face is deadpan and full of hatred, even when she is purring with content, but tonight her eyes were wide and dark. It was if she was paralyzed in fear, unable to comprehend what her human slave was trying to accomplish. I couldn’t help but laugh and continued dancing. Rey sat motionless for a few more seconds before realizing that my dancing wasn’t going to harm her. She carried on grooming until she fell asleep, continuing her 10-hour nap, on schedule. I would rather have a thousand more nights like that, between my cat and I – even if no one knew about it – than spending it in a crowded room far away from home.

When I first started dating my husband, it was hard trying to come to terms with the fact that I would have to sacrifice even a smidgen of my alone time. I was greedy then, and almost wanted to break things off between us. I wanted to tell him we were merely friends because I was worried he would be getting in the way of the time I looked forward to the most. This was based off my previous dating horror stories; men who would constantly pester me and wanted nothing more than copious amounts of attention and time together. This type of interaction was too much for me; what I really wanted was for them to stop texting me so I could just go back to re-reading Harry Potter, snuggled in my bed.

My husband would start every Monday by asking me, “When are you free this week?”

I pictured myself reading his texts like I was in a Steven Spielberg film. My face full of worry and regret as the camera did a dolly zoom a la Roy Scheider in Jaws.

I stared at the phone, typing out a series of different responses each time, mostly consisting of excuses ranging from “too much homework” to “so sorry, I’ve already made plans.” Despite all of the attempts to get out of it, I always deleted them and texted back, “Does Thursday work for you?” There was something about his respect for my solitude that caught me off guard. I had the rest of the week to enjoy whatever I wanted to do alone, but just the thought of that one day where I would have to socialize, worse even – go on a date, made my stomach churn. Needless to say, I’m glad I never cancelled those plans or decided to end the relationship based on my ridiculous fears about abandoning my precious solitude. It’s a marvel what you learn about yourself when you’re just a wee bit out of your comfort zone.

The first thing I did when I got my driver’s license was go to the cinema alone. I always had to go with a friend due to the fact that I didn’t have a car or my parents wouldn’t let me step out of the house if it wasn’t with someone they trusted. My mind constantly plays back the days when I couldn’t go anywhere without my mother driving me or picking me up – maybe that’s the root of my solitude obsessed life; maybe that’s where it all started? This constant need to be alone, to do things independently – to be an adult. 

When I finally got my little card of freedom, I went straight to the movies that very same day. It was quite satisfying not only having this vehicle all to myself, under my control, but going somewhere on my own. For the first time, ever. No one judging my every move, telling me to turn down the music, or that I was driving too fast. When I got to the cinema it was freeing being able to sit where I wanted to sit; no one holding me back because I wasn’t sitting in their desired location, or that there weren’t any seats for parties of 2 in an ideal location. I even got to buy my own snacks and better yet, I didn’t have to share them with anyone. When I entered the theater, I could feel people staring at me – I could feel the eyes from their shadowy visages judging my every step as I found where I wanted to sit. 

I wondered what they thought as they watched me climb the stairs. “Oh my God, Charles – look at that girl. She’s here by herself. How sad!” I felt like I was a celebrity, walking on air. “Hell yeah I’m here alone. Are you jealous? You should be,” I wanted to shout to everyone, but instead I sat there in silence with the biggest grin on my 16-year-old face. 

Since that pivotal moment in my life, I’ve had so many other wonderful opportunities to do things I love on my own. I’ve come to realize the best part about that was no one else was there to hold me back because they simply weren’t in the mood or didn’t feel like driving halfway across town to make some new art exhibit. There was a wonderful sense of independence that came with this newfound solitude. Sometimes I would invite friends to join me in these random adventures, just for the hell of it, but I would always secretly wish for their last minute decline. I would text them my disappointment with my saved assortment of sad emojis for such an occasion, but in reality I would be doing cartwheels to my car.

Basically my life went as follows:
What should I do today? Well, I’ve been in the mood for sushi, and this new place just opened up Downtown. Screw it – I’m going to freakin’ go! I’m not going to wait for anyone else, plus no one will notice I’m alone. Even if they do, they’ll just be jealous because they’re not living their lives to the fullest.  Or… I could drive to the coast for that beach day I’ve been daydreaming about all semester? I’m not going to wait for my friends schedules to open up – I won’t have another chance this month.

Of course now I’m always doing things with my husband – sharing everything with him, these moments that I used to only enjoy on my own. Isn’t life strange? I have to admit, I look forward to sharing these little things with him, even if it’s not his cup of tea to go hiking first thing on a Saturday or if he doesn’t want to see the newest Bridget Jones film. We have our own hobbies of course, aside from what we share that we do on our own. I still very much look forward to my alone time, but what’s changed, and my little secret – is that I look forward to it just as much as I do spending time with my husband.

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