Tonight’s the last night I’m alone, so I thought it best to finally get these thoughts out while still alone.
This year was the first time in over 4 years that I’ve lived by myself. I’m talking about no roommates at home, no parents or siblings, no one else around. The last time I seriously lived by myself was back in 2012 when I was in La Jolla for grad school. We’re 39 days into 2017, and I’ve spent almost half of them (19, to be exact) living by myself at home because Zach’s been traveling for work.
On the one hand, it’s rather lonely to come home to an empty house – especially when it’s winter, and 90% of your time at home is when it’s dark outside. There’s a silence that permeates the halls, and I feel like there’s always a subtle force pushing me along to do something such that the house doesn’t feel stale. I’ve been coming home and instantly going to my bedroom and holing myself up there because at least it feels less empty when you’re in a smaller enclosed space.
On the other hand though, I’d completely forgotten about what the freedom of loneliness felt like. The independence, the flexibility, and the control over one’s time – I forgot just how satisfying the freedom of loneliness can be.
When I lived in San Diego & La Jolla for two years, I worked 50-60 hour weeks, made very little money, and had few friends outside of the lab. That being said, I also managed to train for my very first marathon, learn some things about chemistry, and figure out how to chip away at a long-term goal in a way that feels productive and satisfying. If you ask me at which point in my life I’ve felt the most focused and honed in on a single task, I’d say it was in the couple of months leading up to me running my first marathon.
I got into this habit of going to work, eating dinner on the earlier side, and then later after the sun set, I’d jog over to the UCSD campus to go running. I’d mapped a one-mile path from one end of campus to the other, and I’d just run it back and forth. I’d pass the same library, the same gym building, the same lamp posts over and over again, racking up the miles. When I finished, I drove home, and that was that. Rinse, lather, and repeat the next day.
The mileage added up, and oddly enough the loneliness of being in a city far away from my significant other, family, and friends started getting pushed out of my brain by the feeling of accomplishment and actual progress.
At the end of the day, like my mom says, you want to spend life with another half. Your other half. And I love my other half.
But the 41.75 miles I’ve run this year put me on pace to try and finally knock out a resolution of running 365 miles in one year, and maybe check off a sub-two hour half marathon as well. And I have the freedom of loneliness to thank for that progress.