Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Who Likes Being Alone?

     In January I went on my annual roadtrip to the Sunbelt. A couple of times I've flown to Arizona, where one of my sisters lives. But usually I drive to Florida, where my other sister lives. This year I was in Florida for a little over three weeks.

     I go alone, in part because B still works and doesn't get that much vacation time, and in part because B has a thing about Florida. She hates Florida.

     I got her to go with me one time. It was early in 2011, and we drove down together for a week's vacation. Then she flew home, and I stayed on for another week or so. I thought the experience might entice her to see the charms of Florida in February. Instead, it just confirmed her dislike of the whole snowbird thing.

     So now I drive down by myself. I visit my daughter in North Carolina on the way. I stay with my sister for a couple of days. I meet up with a friend and play golf once or twice. But most of the time I'm on my own. And to be honest, I get lonely.

     I enjoy being by myself for a while. But after three or four days, I get tired of it. Plus, I find there are a lot of things I don't do by myself. I feel uncomfortable sitting alone in a nice restaurant. So I mostly eat at diners or fast-food places, or get take-out and bring it back to my rental unit.

    I have gone to the beach by myself, but it gets boring pretty quickly. I wouldn't go to a live show by myself. I do go to movies or a museum or tourist attraction. One year I went to Epcot by myself. But all I did was remember how I'd gone to Disney with my kids when they were young, and how much more fun it was to share the experience with other people.

     So why do I do it? Because I can't stand the long, cold, lonely winter. I need a break. So I travel, and I travel alone.

     But like I said, I don't do too well as a single. I find I have too much time on my hands. I get bored. I feel awkward in social situations. I'm not a worrier, so I don't spend my time worrying about things. But I do sometimes fall into negative thinking, harboring regrets or missed opportunities. After a few days out on the road, enjoying my solitude, I start to get sick of my own company.

     It's been said that women do better on their own than men do. Perhaps as a general rule they are more sociable, or less self-conscious, or more receptive to new situations. I don't know. Maybe women early on realize that they will probably end up alone in the end -- either through divorce, or the death of their husband -- and so they're more prepared to be by themselves.

     Your guess is as good as mine. But if you want to know more -- and it's what got me thinking about this -- go over to Living Richly in Retirement. Barbara has a very interesting post about the perils and possibilities of living alone as an older single person. And like most women, she's better at it than I am.

19 comments:

troutbirder said...

Interesting post. I love the snowbird thing to Florida with all the parks and refuges to hike...:)

Tabor said...

I am rarely alone and I used to so like it! Nothing better than being as lazy or dull as I want NOw being alone in a place away from home is very different. YOu have to get out and about and that can be a challenge. You have to remember where you parked the car, what time the show is, and which restaurant has the great paella. You do not have someone to bounce ideas off of. The fact that you have relatives is a very good thing and should help with the travel. Our winters are getting so short and mild, I no longer feel the call of snowbird land.

Anonymous said...

My husband of nearly 42 years is around me for the first time since we were married, he goes it alone to visit friends and we go out together but it has been a big adjustment..He likes to shop for groceries now something I excelled at now he picks up stuff I end up taking to the food pantry where I cook, clean and volunteer! He has helped me a lot since I fractured my right shoulder and I am a right handed person to boot..but mostly we feel like strangers passing in the dark..All the years of working until he nearly dropped from exhaustion has taken its toll on him, he rises at 8 am daily, I like to sleep in, I am up late he is in bed early, we go to the shore sometimes and he thinks he is the ironman and I just stroll on the beach he runs like the devil is at his feet. In our society men are denied working til they want to retire, it happened to my husband the place was a beast to work in and he was the last person in a union with any rights, people who retired just before him died in one full week of their retirement party and last day of work. That did it to my husband, he wanted to see something for what he slaved for most of his life..Both of his parents never owned anything how could they 8 kids and a man who liked to find himself with other women! His mother had the kids and he kept on taking off! They had no home like the tiny one we are blessed to own, no car even, they had to rely upon my husband the oldest to be a man at a young age, he left home and in the army then college and marriage we got a home right away, both worked and boom after giving up all hope of any children we had an adorable baby doll girl..She is still single at nearly 39 and treats us like a King and Queen, she is great..We always spoiled her with love and affection and took her everywhere and I mean everywhere, she travels for her job now and comes to a big town about 2 plus hours from us her parents and we take Amtrak or the Bus and see her and have a ball..Alone, our home was buzzing since we had our little angel, an only child she listened to others and was kind and gentle the kitchen was always bopping with kids, I always wondered where the hell their parents were, on high school graduation I saw where they were, smoking, drinking and acting like it was their high school graduation, I could not believe what I saw & knew why they liked to stay at our home all the time, we live and continue to live right by the high school and they found the path for food and listening and understanding at our home. Alone, I listen to Domestic Violence victims and try not to cry and hold them tight, I cannot believe people slap the you know what out of their partners, wives, sweethearts and try to slap the you know what out of their babies, but it is real and it happens more than anyone can imagine. Alone I am with people most days, a few hours by myself is a big luxury I would not refuse..But I love people and know that I am planted where I am needed, why not help others to eat nutritious food, listen to their sorrows and lend an ear and helping hand..The food pantry the little ones hold my hubs legs and won't let go, he always buys tootsie rolls midget ones and gets books from a book store we know the owner, he reads to them and they get the midgies as I call them after breakfast lunch or dinner. Alone it is not happeneing here, I don't think I would know what the heck to do..Love your blog, enjoy your trips, help out in a food pantry & you will never ever be longely!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

It would break my heart to visit FL alone. I lived there with my three children years ago. The youngest was born in Tampa.

Stephen Hayes said...

I actually enjoy those rare times when I travel by myself. My wife does so many things for me that occasionally it's healthy for me to see if I can still function on my own.

joared said...

Enjoyed reading about your experience. I share B's view of Florida and concluded years ago I would never want to live there, so sold my Cape Coral lot. I was quite pleased when my husband did not accept a position in Orlando years ago, coincidentally when Disney World was also opening. But then, I was relieved we didn't move to Houston either as I have little affection for Texas. I'm long ago from the Midwest, have lived in the south, but the west is my preference. I do understand going to Florida or the Gulf Coast is closest kn proximity to east coast residents and those east of the Mississippi, would be more cost effective, too, since escaping the cold and snow for a respite is highly desirable especially when we get older.

I think you're probably correct that widowers tend to soon wed after a spouses death much more readily than widows. I don't want to get into stereotype views but think in traditional type relationships from the forties and fifties this would be especially true, but then I've observed it to be so with later generations, also.

Thanks for the link to Living Richly In Retirement. I appreciated reading her views to compare with some of my own which I've previously written about. Key to being alone may be life experiences, attitude toward solitude, valuing the difference between being alone and being lonely.

bonusyears said...

Thanks for your interesting and honest article. I'm surprised to discover myself feeling wistful for company on occasion, and nowadays need to build a little extra into the week. Surprised because I'm an introverted writer who even as a child needed a secret hut and alone time, even in a happy active loving household and five great sisters. Now I have a secret hankering for just a little more company. Odd, ay?

Cindi said...

If you were alone, that meant that B was alone also. What did she do to manage her aloneness?

I dunno. Any woman who doesn't see downtown Naples as one of the most romantic tropical areas, probably will never get it. The music, the ambiance, the palm trees, the tropical breezes, the architecture, the dancing, the food, the drinks, the clothes, the wealth that just oozes out of every pore.......the constant flow of private jets that quietly zoom overhead, as more and more ambiance flows through the merriment of Naples. If you listen closely, you rarely hear the English language spoken, as most are from Europe, so yes, technically, you are walking along the streets of St. Tropez, or along the Italian/French Riviera.

Well, anyway, I had bits of alone time too whilst in Naples as my husband was traveling for work. I can spend hours sipping a prosecco (Italian champagne) in the Naples Square, (reminiscent of Kathryn Hepburn sitting in the Piazzo De San Marco in Venice Italy) just watching the world go by. We should have gotten together for a drink. Or two.

When people tell me Florida is for old people, too hot, too buggy or whatever else their complaint is, I just slyly smile. Because they just don't get it and hopefully they never will.

Jono said...

It's good to get out alone, but I agree, after a few days it's nice to have some company. The winter's are long here, too. It is starting to break now and every few days it gets above freezing. The Beatles said it best, "Here comes the sun, here comes the sun, And I say it's all right."

Wisewebwoman said...

I can never get enough of my own company. I think perhaps upbringing has a lot to do with it. My childhood home was small and cramped, far too small for the 8 of us who lived there and I was constantly trying to find ways of escaping. I'd ride my bike all by myself for a day and explore and wander over cliffs with my books out of earshot.

Florida? I worked there for a while and B and I would bond over how much we hate it. I found it surreal, all those old cranky leathery people warehoused and waiting to die and line dancing badly in the meantime. I know - stereotyping but I did find it depressing.

XO
WWW

Linda Myers said...

Consider the Voyager RV Resort in Tucson next year. Where we live it is easy to make friends even if you're an introvert. And there is no way you'd get bored - so much to do. You can rent a park model (trailer).

Tom Sightings said...

Cindi, I'm going to forward your description of Naples to B. How could she resist? But if she does, then Linda, maybe I'll take you up on Tucson (we were there in 2012 and found it quite nice).

DJan said...

I don't spend much time alone, but I did take a two-week trip across the country by myself, long ago. I remember being a little uncomfortable staying in hotel rooms by myself, but I don't remember being lonely. I think you're right that women have an easier time of being alone. My sister lives in Florida, too, but I could never willingly live there, alone or not. The snowbird thing is out of hand. :-)

Mona McGinnis said...

I've lived alone for 20+ yrs. I enjoy it. I find it easier to get company living alone then to get solitude when there was a family around. However, it is easy to say you're a nice person when you live alone. So, to remind myself that I'm not the center of the universe, I've helped out a friend who competes in chuckwagon racing. I go on the road with his family for 4-6 wks - with his 3 kids, hired help, busy schedule and live in a 40-ft RV. My quiet home never looked so good when I return.

gigihawaii said...

I am happiest being a wife and mother and grandmother. Solitude is awful.

Olga Hebert said...

I like about a 60 to 40 balance, alone to with someone. And, of course I adore Florida even in a "crappy" year as this has kind of been so far.

Celia said...

I live alone and for the most part I like it. I was married for a very long time and it took me nearly decade to adjust to being a single person. Having had kids and now grandkids who are with me a couple of days a week, I have not turned into an inflexible hermit. I enjoy some dating but no longer want to share quarters with anyone on a permanent basis.

Having said that I do like to travel with company for many reasons, sharing the experience being a big one. I envy those who can travel happily alone. I did it for business when I was working and didn't care for it but that is different from travel for fun, education or visiting my family which I enjoy. It's the same as how I can happily see a film alone but it is more fun with to have some one to see it with and chew it over.

I too, thank you for the link to "Living Richly in Retirement."

Sally Wessely said...

I'm with you on the idea of being alone. I hate to be alone. I can't even imagine traveling alone for three weeks. I like company. I like people around me. That's not to say I don't like my solitude. I like time alone in very short periods of time. My mother, an only child, likes living alone and being alone. She thrives in her solitude even as she has a very active social life at nearly 100 years of age. I can't ever see myself living alone when I am older. I would move to a senior center, or a retirement community, because I would hate being alone.

Anonymous said...

I commented once but never got around to Florida, could never ever live there with my hubs or by myself..too crime filled and full of crap people who are con artist and thieves, no thank you..I get really offended when people shoot down California, I lived there for a good long while it was a wonderful state, it is not now, but it was! I got my college education for free there an worked and lived up and down the coast of the state, people were kind and loving to me, not anymore lots of prisons in fact more prisons than anyother state, one can never buy a home, home ownership the lowest in all of the USA but people flock to califoornia for jobs and money they don't get much for their money anymore, but then most places rents are enormous in Washington state and Oregon is ridiculous tooooo, so a matter of perspective in one's thinking as one gets older..My brother in law cannot live by himself, yet his former wife, not married but in spirit passed 13 years ago and he chooses women who are mentally ill to have around cause he hates to be alone, these women taunt him and say horrible things to him, but he just keeps them around for a warm body, for God's sake I think all people should learn to live by themselves and not be treated like crap..but it is his choice!!!!!!!!!!!!!!