Today a salesgirl asked me this:
“What do you do in your lonely time?”
She was serious. She asked me this upon learning that I live in Singapore alone. She was selling me a piece of furniture (well, trying to) and was surprised to learn that I was “living so far away from family and yet not married.” (Don’t even get me started on how common this conversation is.) Her intentions were not rude, not prying. She was earnestly curious, as is often the case. Single women living alone (rather than with family) are a particular curiosity/oddity in many parts of the world. Where I am from, it’s very common, but there are times I’m reminded that this is not the norm elsewhere.
After twelve years outside my home country it is unsurprising to hear this question, but t was one I hadn’t heard in a while.
Me: “Lonely time? What’s that?! I have no time to be lonely!”
Her: “Oh, wow! Really? So you keep yourself busy with many activities?”
Me: “Dear gawd, yes. I feel like I have a bazillion activities. There is always so much to do. Lonely? Hah.” I thought about that for a minute, to be sure it was true. It almost seems absurd most of the time, loneliness.
I suppose everyone has moments when they are lonely, myself included. But for me, those aren’t so common. I’m lonely for about 5 minutes — maybe 10 if I’m in a bad mood — on a weekend when I haven’t made brunch/dinner/event plans. And then I find something else to do — go to a movie, walk in the park, visit a museum or art gallery, read a book, read articles online from my favorite writers/sources/recommends, check and interact with my Twitter feed, sing a song, browse recipes, make something to eat, pour a glass of wine (or three), catchup on episodes of Glee, check out those last 5 apps my friends recommended, read reviews of that new set of restaurants that just opened, plan my next weekend getaway/ school holiday, go for a swim, ride my bike to the mall to buy more potato chips (and stop for a browse in the bookstore and a coffee on the way back), gaze longingly at Fluevogs online, sit in pigeon pose for a bit while watching Channel News Asia, play with/chase the cat, make popcorn, Skype a friend in another time zone, write a blog post…
… and before I know it, either the day is finished — and I still haven’t done everything I wanted to do! — or a friend texts and says “hey let’s hang out” and so I either crash into bed, or change my clothes and am out the door again!
Where is there time to be lonely in all that? My friend Keri-Lee once said to me, “You’re too flipping busy to be lonely!” when a similar topic came up about a year ago. I thought of this when the salesgirl asked me about it today.
Salesgirl (smiling): “Oh, then I guess I have a lot to learn from you. I am so surprise to learn you are alone but not lonely.”
Me: “But I rarely feel alone. I feel like I have friends around or near most of the time.”
Her: “Oh, you are very lucky.”
Today’s truth: Yeah, I am lucky. I really am. For many things. And one of them is that I’m alone (sometimes) but *definitely* not lonely.