Alone or Lonely?

“Is anyone joining you this evening?” I hear the host ask the guest who has just approached the podium.

“No, table for one. Just me,” he tells her.

Book in hand, the guest sits at the deuce as the host clears away the extra place setting.

He quickly opens his book, and he reads. It must be an interesting book, because he doesn’t look up from it, except to glance at the menu and give his order to the server. He eats when his food is served. And then he reads some more.

Is he alone or lonely?

It is prime happy-hour time as I watch the cute girl walk down an avenue lined with bars and clubs. She has a slim book in her hand; she has chosen not to stash it in her over-sized bag, which could clearly accommodate it. She carries it in plain sight, and rather than partake of cheap, watered-down mojitos or $2 draft beer, she ducks into a Starbucks on the corner and perches at the counter that overlooks the sidewalk. She opens her book, glances at it, then puts it face down on the counter and stares out the window, the printed words now seemingly uninteresting.

Is she alone or lonely?

A young man and woman sit side by side on a crowded bus, each wearing headphones that allow them to be very much apart from one another, even as their elbows touch and their shoulders brush against each other. I watch him glance at her, then look back at his newspaper. I watch as she watches him for just a moment, until he looks up at her and sees her watching him, and they both look away and retreat to their far-away worlds.

How many more mornings will they be alone?

I will soon be the guest at a table for one, the single girl with the book, the solo bus traveler. It is a stage of life I never imagined, but I have decided it is best for me, absolutely necessary for me, for now. I am not happy about it. I am, instead, quite shaken and saddened by it. But it is my decision–all mine–and my self-determined course of action. No villains here, just life.

Will I be alone or lonely? I have no clue. My goal is to work, find some sort of personal equilibrium, and work some more. Then I hope to know some answers.

Until then, to those who have expressed concern via email, know that I am okay as okay goes, and that I have a great new job miles and miles and miles away from D.C. It just might be the job that combines all the good things I’ve experienced in the industry that have led me to this place. I am landing in a first-rate restaurant that is managed by the best of the best, and that alone makes it a road worth traveling. Personal issues aside, I am one lucky Gal. That I do know.

More stories to come, of course. But for the next few weeks, enjoy some very fine writing by guest posters in between stories of my own.

Oh yeah, and did I mention I will soon be living at the beach?







19 responses to “Alone or Lonely?”

  1. A Avatar

    I’m a long time lurker but after your last post I just want to say that I’m sorry for your change of status. I’ve enjoyed (and will still enjoy) your blog and wish you well in your new life. Good luck.

  2. amsNYC Avatar

    RG – I am also so sorry about your change in status. If your writing is any indication you are one of the smartest, warmest, kindest, funniest most compassionate people I have never met – and clearly brave enough to know that while change is tough and painful it rarely kills. I will be sending you good thoughts and hopes that happy days outnumber the sad as you move forward.

  3. Kim Ayres Avatar

    Alone or lonely is entirely about how much control you feel you have over the situation. The more in control you feel, the more power you have over the situation, the less fearful you are of it. You are taking control of your life. I have every faith in you to make your life the way you want it.


  4. question girl Avatar

    there are days i am alone

    there are days i am a lonere

    there are days i am lonely

    there are days i want to be left alone

    being single and 30 was not what i thought would be

    i have learned to always have an engrossing book with me to keep me company

    i have also learned that sometimes it’s nice to have it with me, but i don’t need or really want it – i would rather enjoy the view

    where ever life is taking you, and for whatever the reasons are, i have finally learned to just take it one day at a time and to enjoy the view – and since you are getting the beach to boot – i bet it’s gonna be one hell of a view

  5. Jennifer Avatar

    RG, I learned after my own divorce that being lonely when you’re alone is much easier than being lonely when you’re sitting next to the person who’s supposed to be your partner. There are tough times ahead, but you’re going to come out stronger and better for it. And I have no doubt whatsoever that when you’re ready (and do give yourself some time!), you’re going to meet the RIGHT partner.

    All my very best to you during this transition!!!

  6. Julie Avatar

    RG — When I was first single again, I made it a point to go out and do the things that I enjoyed rather than staying home. It’s hard to remember that there’s a whole world out there when you’re at home. I was one of those people with a book at my table for one or bypassing the bars during happy hour to have a cup of tea and people watch. Choose to be alone when you need time to yourself. Reach out when you feel lonely. Everything will be ok even if it doesn’t feel like it sometimes.


  7. Sous Gal Avatar

    Hi there ๐Ÿ™‚ Been reading your site for oh over a year now. Recently I moved to an island from a Big City to work in a restaurant. Your last many posts have niggled at me because of similarities between your situation and mine. I hope you don’t mind as I’ve linked your blog.

  8. UpstateNYer Avatar

    Aww sorry to hear about what you are going through RG. I’m a longtime reader and have enjoyed your blog thorughly, but have never commented. I had noticed that there seemed to be less and less mention about Mr. RG over the last several months and was a little worried about something like this. I know you will make the right decisions for you and I wish you all the best.

    I am 35 and have never been married. Sometimes I am lonely. Then I see so many unhappy couples. People married to the wrong person and they are just going through the motions or worse at each other’s throats constantly making each other and every around them miserable. I thank god that my parents are not one of those couples so that I had a chance to see what I want for myself. Partners who are truly best friends. I know marriage isn’t always easy and no one is perfect. Sometimes every couple, even my wonderful parents, annoy each other -but when it comes to the end of the day they are happy to be together. As my dad once said to me… “I am happier waiting outside in the car for your mother to come out of a store than I am anywhere with anyone else.” A little weird, but it makes sense.

    Anyway goodluck RG and take care.

  9. Sharon Avatar


    Being alone and happy is so much better than being with someone and sad. I know… I did it.

    Best of luck. Keep writing.

  10. Katie Avatar

    Best of luck with all of the changes.

  11. kgrrrl Avatar

    I’m sorry that you are having to change your life at this time of your life.
    I’m sure a fresh start will be wonderful and I look forward to see how you do.
    PS – I go through lonely and alone and understand one part needs to happen to get to the next.

  12. Jessie Avatar

    One day at a time. Some days are hard…but you can still be happy. Try to keep your head up!

    Hope your new adventure takes you where you want to be…


  13. Moxie Spice Avatar

    RG – I’m sorry to read about your situation but it sounds like you have your feet firmly planted and are making choices and decisions that are right for you.
    The right decisions are usually the most difficult.

    Be strong. Be kind to yourself. Grow.

  14. ML Avatar

    Hi RG, I’ve been reading your blog since the beginning and have been impressed by how much you have been through and have still retained your insight and sensitivity. Good luck with your journey.

  15. Bill Avatar

    Speaking for myself, RG, we’re all here for you, and that’s as profound as I’m gonna get.

  16. Lisa Avatar

    I’ve spent the past 3 years removing the lonely from alone. You have a brand new adventure to embark upon. Enjoy every single minute of it!!

  17. Desert Flutie Avatar

    I’m sorry to hear about your change in status. It’s a hard decision, may your guardian angel keep watch over you as you go through this change. =)

  18. Phil Avatar

    Sorry to hear it, RG.

    My wife and I were having a conversation about her mother, who is divorced, just the other day:

    Her: I just wish she could find someone.
    Me: Ehh-? What for? She has her kids, grandkids…if I were her I wouldn’t mind.
    Her: What does that mean? Do you wish I wasn’t around?
    Me: No, of course not! I’m just saying…at her age, what’s the big deal? She doesn’t have to put with anyone’s crap.
    Her: How do you know? You wouldn’t feel lonely?
    Me: Yeah, I would – but don’t tell me having your own bed to sleep in without me snoring next to you wouldn’t be pretty sweet…
    Her: ……..
    Me: Admit it.
    Her: ….yeah, ok. that would be pretty sweet….

  19. Jedi Jaz Avatar

    Oh wow… I’d wondered if something was up. I’ve been reading for… oh long enough to guess when something’s up I think. ๐Ÿ™‚ Someone said up above that being lonely when you’re alone is far better than being lonely when you’re with someone… and as that sounds far too familiar, I hope things go well for you, I hope you’re living in my beach town so I can give you an encouraging smile when I go eat, and seriously: never forget to be silly.