Alone in a crowd
I have noticed after this summer of hiking that I never feel lonely up north. You would think I would feel lonely, tramping around in the woods all by myself. I have spent days without talking to another person, other than a quick hello to some stranger on the trail. I do miss my kids and grandkids after a while and need to get home for a hug from Charlotte and Lilly! Then I am ready to be alone again.
This is a strange realization for me because I used to seek out people to talk to in any situation. Barry and I were pretty good at being around groups of people. At parties, we usually separated and did our own thing. At book events, he would talk to everyone, often calling himself Mr. Nancy Carlson. I loved that about him! He was always comfortable in any crowd.
Years ago, we took the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) that our church offered to married couples. Barry’s results really surprised me. I learned that he was more of an introvert, getting energy from being alone. I was the opposite. I got my energy from being with people. It’s odd that I have chosen a career in which I am alone in a studio all day. Maybe this explains why I have always loved speaking at schools and being at parties or events where I could be with people. I even used to be that irritating person on the plane who chatted all the way to our destination!
Now that I am on my own, I can’t figure out how to go to events and have fun. If I am invited to a party or a book event, I always go with high hopes of having a good time. But I usually end the evening feeling weepy or calling a good friend late when I get home to talk about how sad I felt. I have discovered at this point of my life that it is much more lonely to be in a crowd of people.
Maybe I just need to get used to it or find a new way to make it fun. It dawned on me while driving home from a book reading recently that maybe I keep heading north to escape feeling lonely in a crowd. It just doesn’t feel lonely up there even though I spend entire days without talking to one soul. I never expected this.
I am trying to figure out where I fit in now. I have not been a single person for at least 40 years. Part of me knows that I should keep pushing myself to go out and do things, but then I remember how nice it feels to hike all day by myself. Maybe I have fundamentally changed at age 62. Maybe now my energy comes from solitude. I kind of hope so because the leaves are changing color now and there are some trails to be hiked alone!