Being Cool Alone


I always thought it would be neat to be someone who is cool alone. It’s maybe why I write. It’s why I bought I neat glasses. I remember the first meal I ate out alone: it was at lunchtime at a Thai restaurant and I read a newspaper. It was not a big deal, but the start of a learning curve: what does it take to live alone?

It takes a lot of guts. It means going out your door even when you know you might find nothing. It means never telling anyone the full contents of your day. It means making a lot of decisions and then turning back on them. It means getting used to being lonely.

I don’t know why I think living in Paris alone would be easier. It would be so hard, surrounded by such beauty and energy but still feeling on the outskirts of it. I think it’s because I know that Parisians are so cool alone. Do you have to be cold, to be alone?

The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

Being alone is a very careful place: the moment you fall into a circle of friends you are no longer doing it. Life becomes easy, swimmable. Being lonely is edgy. It’s being at the brink of having it all, but choosing to stay outside of it, looking in, being comfortable in your selfishness.

I am lonely when I travel; it’s the only real chance I have at trying to live alone. At home I have a family, I have friends. I could never really do it – I know I would always give up. This is the second time I have sent myself somewhere alone. Both times I have given myself fail-safes: a roommate, an aunt and uncle. But sleeping in a room alone in a new city is something. And though right now I’m in my same country, though I speak the language, it’s hard to penetrate, to not be alone.

A lot of the time that I’m with people I’m thinking of the next moment I will be alone: what will I read? What will I write? I don’t know why it drives me, these words flowing in and out, but somehow it’s a big part of what I live for. I fuel up with energy and life from my relationships with others so I can come back to myself and do this writing thing. So loneliness, it has its pay offs and its draw backs. I get to write, yes, I get to write a lot. But what am I writing about?


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