““One Alone” or “Only Lonely””


In one of my writing classes during undergrad, my professor read to us an excerpt from one of his essays on traveling, this one particularly about traveling alone. And one of the echoing themes he used was the distinction between his coined phrases “one alone” and “only lonely” — and there is a difference, isn’t there?

I remembered that reading because yesterday I came cross an NYT article weighing the pros and cons on the rapidly increasing number of Americans living alone as opposed to the previous norm of cohabitation.

The appeal of living alone, as pointed out in the article, is the liberation that comes with the territory. Like Kate Bolick says to NYT about her “white flax bloomers”:

“That would be the height of intimacy if someone saw [me in] those.”

It struck me that while I’ve experienced an unprecedented level of comfort with my current boyfriend (i.e. I fart and still feel the flaming burn of embarrassment afterward – kill me now), I’m positive there are things (“Secret Single Behavior”) I would do without him around.

Example: I would eat cereal for every meal of the day standing at the kitchen counter while watching television.

That’s what a lot of this website is all about, right? That moment when you realize, “I wouldn’t be okay doing this around anyone else.” Living alone is comfortable, but moving beyond comfort and learning to be your “single self” around another person might be worth the effort.

It’s my nature (and most people’s) to crave solitude at times so that I can do things like eat cake for breakfast, and yet, if I really thought about not having my partner available to me, I think I’d feel pretty lonely. Only lonely.

(image c/o Flickr via Creative Commons)

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