ALONE, BUT NOT LONELY

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When I was in my early 20’s I rented an apartment alone. I was both excited and a bit nervous; having no idea what living alone would be like. I loved it and I never had a roommate again until I moved in with Steve, more then 10 years later.

During those years I did all sorts of things by myself. If I couldn’t find someone to join me at the movies on a rainy Sunday afternoon, I went alone. When I was in my early 30’s I started traveling for business and found myself going all over the world, alone. I worked all day and saw lots of people, but at night I was on my own. Room service only works for a few nights and I began to venture out to restaurants. I started by bringing all sorts of things with me, books, notebooks to write in, and magazines, anything that would distract me from feeling awkward sitting at a table alone. As I aged, those feelings dissipated and now I love going to a new city, alone, exploring, eating in restaurants and not bringing a thing with me.

This past month has been a true joy. The mixture of being alone and being with my sister and friends has been a great balance. The walk was amazing, talking and engaging with other “pilgrims” during the day and solitude to reflect on my journey at night. It couldn’t have been better.

I just spent 4 days alone in Florence and Lucca and I loved every minute of it. The flexibility to get up when I want, go where I want, eat when I want and see what I want, was wonderful. I got lost a lot and didn’t have to feel the least bit bad about it. I ate at wonderful restaurants each night. The reservation was for one and each restaurant took care of me as if I was an old friend. The waiters were attentive and brought half portions of the dishes meant for two.

I am reminded that we live in a world of couples. When people would engage with me, they were often surprised to hear that I was traveling alone. Sometimes they seemed sad for me but sometimes they had a bit of envy in their eyes. Women would often ask me questions, wondering if they could do this. “Of course you can”, I would reply. Being alone does not mean being lonely, it simply means being alone. Often people would invite me to join them or at least have a conversation with me across the tables. I often realized that, other than placing my order, I probably hadn’t spoken all day.

I’m now in Rome spending my last week with my dear friends of more then 45 years, Mame and Cliff. They have been in Rome for the past 3 weeks and are welcoming me to share this time with them. I’m not alone and I have comfortably become part of a threesome and not a third wheel. The amazing joy of being with old friends, who know me, makes me grateful.

I head back to Korea in a week and I will once again make my way back into the life Steve and I share. I really look forward to seeing him and I also know it won’t be as it was. It can’t be. We have been apart for 9 weeks and a lot has happened for both of us, as it does in life. I love the idea of sharing my experiences with him and hearing about his. Each experience I have, takes me closer to the person I want to be. The person who can go it alone and relish in the time I have with Steve and with good friends. The person who can live in the moment and not worry about all the unimportant details that really do take care of themselves, The person who is loving and caring to other people and nurturing to myself. The person who lives with love in my heart and not fear.

I love my life and I am already planning my next adventure. The other night when I spoke to Steve he asked me if I knew about Annapurna. Only from a book I read years ago. He said he thinks it may be on the “list”. If it is, I won’t be doing it alone, but with Steve. Here’s to the joys of living life to the fullest, whatever that might look like, to not waiting for anything or for anyone but realizing our dreams and making them happen. Right now I’m off to see the Sistine Chapel, alone.

Stay in touch and I will too.

With love and gratitude,

Marsha

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