Monday, May 30, 2011

Alone-Time vs. Lonely-Time—by Jamie Levine

Ever since Jayda was born, I haven't stopped moving. Well, technically, I was parked on the couch quite a bit during the first few months of my daughter’s life, when I was nursing her every two to three hours, but since I wasn't producing enough milk, and had to pump constantly in between feeding my baby, I was far from relaxed. When my maternity leave ended, I commuted 50 minutes into the city every day to my full-time job, and when I was laid off a couple of years later, I spent every moment possible networking, lunching, and schmoozing like crazy to snatch up any freelance project I could find—while still juggling play dates galore, and taking care of everything else a single parent needs to take care of on a daily basis. Then, a year and a half ago, I returned to college, and on top of my freelance work and mommy duties, I had three classes to ace every semester. I managed to secure a 4.0 GPA, and even spent last summer taking one class and preparing for the GREs. I also work out religiously, devote ample time to my friendships, and, last fall, dove into an intense romantic relationship. I'm not trying to win any "mom of the year" or "superwoman" awards here…but I’m just pointing out that as much as I've craved it, I never have alone-time. Or time to relax. Ever. Until now.

This fall, I’ll begin an intense graduate school program that runs year-round for two years, and now that my undergraduate finals are over, I’m finished with school until September. I'm still freelancing, but haven't secured as much work as I'd like to lately, and Jayda's in school full-time until the end of June. Then, she’ll be in camp three full days days a week for eight weeks. Originally, I'd planned to spend some of my free days with Library Guy (who is home this summer, too, and put his kids on a similar camp schedule), but we all know that's not an option now. So, I have free time. Tons of it. And while I know I'll kick myself in the fall if I haven't thoroughly enjoyed my free time and used it to it's fullest potential, right now all those empty days looming ahead scare the heck out of me. At a time in my life when I need to keep busy to keep myself from feeling lonely, I have oodles of hours to spend by myself. Isn’t it ironic?

I already work out 60-90 minutes a day, so bumping up my gym-time isn’t really the answer. And while I’m dying to curl up with a good, cheesy romance—or even ten of them—instead of a text book for a change, I can’t fill my whole summer with reading. Or movies. Or, shopping for that matter, since I’m trying to save money. Yes, I do have a number of projects to do around the house, and there’s always food shopping and laundry, and other domestic obligations, which can fill up a few hours…but is that really a way to embrace a summer I’ve been looking forward to all year-long? I think not.

Before I had Jayda, I was always solo. Sure, I had a slew of wonderful girl friends on whom I could always lean, but I never had a steady male companion. I lived alone, took care of myself, and entertained myself—often going to movies and attending social events on my own. I even traveled the world solo—making friends wherever I went, but refusing to “wait around” for a partner so I could live my life to its fullest. So what’s stopping me now? And why am I feeling so lonely and afraid? Maybe it's because it took me so long to find someone to share my life with, and I know being a singleton just isn't as fulfilling. And while I can serial date with the best of 'em, finding something that sticks isn't so easy. But that's a fact of life—or at least my life. And for better—or worse—it looks like I’m going to have a long summer ahead of me to figure out how to deal with it.


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