“When I get lonely these days, I think: So BE lonely, Liz. Learn your way around loneliness. Make a map of it. Sit with it, for once in your life. Welcome to the human experience. ”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
I’m a bit of a misfit! I don’t mean to be. I just am. I haven’t always been like this. I used to fit in. I used to seem normal in most senses of the word. I used to have a normal family, with normal friends and a normal life. But then, over time, I moved, moved around and then around again. I ended up in a place that wasn’t where I was from. I feel like a Texas-shaped person living in an Arizona shaped place. “O, it’s not that much different,” you say. But actually, it is like being a world away.
See the two starfish. The regular kind you see every day was the first one. Perfect in its own way. Yet the second one is different. One spiny leg is missing. That one is me.
Every year, as the holidays or my birthday would appear, I noticed that I wanted to go somewhere. Go on another trip. “I want to see the world, ” I thought. “I am an adventurer.” I thought, year after year, time and time again, I would go off on some exotic voyage. Then after a while, I started to notice a pattern. When some big event, like a “milestone” birthday would come up, I didn’t want to be here, here in the United States. I didn’t want to face the start of another year in my life here. I wanted to start it in Sydney or Vienna or Guadalajara. I wanted it to begin it in a foreign land.
Again, over time, I noticed a pattern arising. The pattern was loneliness. In reality, I didn’t want to face yet another big event in my life.
I thought if I plan a trip, then I won’t have to think about it or face that day. I could meander through the streets of Istanbul or San Miguel de Allende or Barcelona and not be noticed. Introverts sort of like this thing about not being noticed. I could soak the city into my veins, I could feel the beat of the city running through (pulsing really) through me. That tactile sensation I get while traveling is unlike any other tactile sensation I ever receive while at home.
When my husband finally told me to stop going for a while (really he just said to “SLOW DOWN on the traveling”), as I did trips to Barcelona, Girona, the Costa Brava area, Genoa, Nervi, the Cinque Terre, then Istanbul, Amman, Aqaba and Petra back to back, then Los Angeles all within a 2-month time span, I was literally exhausted from my travels. I did have about 10 days between trips, but other than that I was on the go on the road.
Working from home, working from wherever I was to try to keep up with my work. Work from the two businesses I own, the accounting/finances of the business, the kid’s schedule, the laundry, the blog. Trying to keep everything going on at home, while I was abroad and then planning the next trip while on the road. All for what? To evade the inevitable: loneliness. I am waiting for my soul to grow. Otherwise, I just crawl into that space and stay there for a while. Travel it my solace.
Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow. Never expect to outgrow loneliness. Never hope to find people who will understand you, someone to fill that space. An intelligent, sensitive person is the exception, a very great exception. If you expect to find people who will understand you, you will grow murderous with disappointment. The best you’ll ever do is to understand yourself, know what it is that you want, and not let the cattle stand in your way.”
― Janet Fitch, White Oleander
These photos were taken underwater in San Carlos, Mexico, by me. The cenote photo was taken in Cenote Kukulcan, Cancun area of Mexico.