I have always been an introvert. I value and fiercely guard my alone time and was raised to be independent from a young age. I’m no good at small talk and awkward at parties unless I have at least three drinks down, but I can function well with a ‘script’ -like when I waitress or have to participate in class discussion about a particular subject- even though I am uncomfortable doing it. So being 100 miles away from my family during the week to attend college has been a blessing as much as it has been a hardship. I live alone. It’s easy to avoid my neighbors. I miss my family and talk to them each night.
It’s only during the last several days that I realized how alone I am at college and how much I rely on the support of my family without knowing. In my mind I gave up depending on other people in early childhood. It was clear they couldn’t be trusted. I have good friends at college. Friends that swept my shattered pieces off the carpet and put me back together with gentle hands and a box of Kleenex.
But it is not the same. It is not the same as your child wordlessly laying their head on your shoulder because they know you could use a touch. It is not the same as your dog sitting as close as possible to you on the couch because he feels you are sad. It is not the same as your husband of twenty years holding you so close that your heartbeats echo in each other. Or being able stretch a foot across the bed and feel he is still next to you when you can’t bear his touch.
I was never more alone than when my foot reached out in the dark night and found only empty space. My aloneness was magnified the next night when my husband and son left the parking lot in one direction and I turned the opposite way after we had met in the middle. I started my weekend early and the next school week late to soak up as much consolation in touch as possible in order to make it through four and a half days, and nights, alone.