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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Alone - A Concept

I was walking through the Denver airport alone. Alone. It had been a while since I was alone in an airport.  I didn't have to rush. I had plenty of time to get to my connecting flight to Jackson Hole.  As I walked along, strolling solo through the mass of people scurrying to their destinations, I realized something that I already know in essence, but I've never spent much time really acknowledging. 

And that is, I can never really, truly, be alone anymore.  

I've traveled a fair share in my life.  More than many.  Less than some.  One of the last times I can vividly remember strolling through the Denver airport is after I returned from living a year abroad, in Poland, teaching English.  After that massive adventure in my life, I was headed to Boulder to meet up with my dude, (yep, that dude), and as I walked down a long corridor to finally see him again, I was alone. Just me. In my head. In my heart. In my life. In the world. 

I remember on my very first solo international trip, I was 22-years-old sitting on some beach rocks of some coastal town in Italy and I thought to myself, I am so alone.  No one knows exactly where I am or what I am doing.  I was kicking back at some pinpoint on the globe and no one but me knew where that point was.  

And that feeling was invigorating to me.  It was freedom.  True freedom. It was ultimate choice.  There were no expectations put upon me to behave a certain way or stay in a specific kind of lodging or do something that supposedly "fit" my personality.  

It was that feeling of unencumbered freedom that inspired me to spend a year of my life in a small village in the southwest corner of Poland. A year filled with spontaneous travel adventures to exotic places where around every corner a brand new experience was waiting to spin my head and fill my soul. And it is that feeling that keeps me addicted to the thought of travel.

But this past Tuesday in the Denver airport, it struck me that, although I was taking big deep breaths reveling in being by myself on my very own adventure, I was really not alone.  And the feeling I had experienced prior in my travels was never to be had in the same way ever again.

And that is because I am a mother.

Whether with them physically or not, my kids are with me.  The world is different now that they are in it.  My head is different.  My heart is changed. I used to explore the planet with a singular mindset - mine. And that is no longer possible.  

There is an invisible tie keeping us close no matter the distance. Will it ever go away? As they get older creating their own lives and they take to the skies for their own adventures?  I think not. This change in me is profound and lifelong.  

I am a mother.  

And I will never ever be alone again. 


  1. (sneaking on for 5 minutes)

    So funny how cosmically connected we are. I was thinking this the other day - why I didn't travel more by myself when I could have. I met hubs too young, I guess. I miss that mental freedom. The purity of no true worry. Of just being.

    There's no just being any longer.

    It's a double edged sword, that motherhood thing.

    Maybe you and I should take up meditation?

    Glad you're home safe and sound. Em

  2. I think this REGULARLY when I think about having kids. At this point in my life, I feel too selfish to give up my "freedom." I also think, and stop me if I've told you this before, that there's a "point of no return" for having kids at a young age. I've passed that point, so I'm taking as much time as I can to travel and do all those "freedom" things. I feel though, that when I'm retired, my kids will be still in college and I won't be able to travel around and do all the things I do now. But the people who had babies early in life, their kids will be grown (maybe with their own families) so they can travel around and "be free."

    I will not say that it is "the same," though, because you are right: no matter how old you are, your kids will always be with you in some way. I hope that you can enjoy some FORM of the freedom again, though. Because everyone deserves that.

  3. Great post, Lee.

    Glad to have you back. ;)

  4. I love to be "alone" but am thankful to very rarely feel "lonely." My kids, my husband, my friends, my family, are always "with" me and all I have to do is call up the fun times in my mind.

  5. Lee! Welcome back Hon!

    And you are NOT alone! Not just cuz of the kidlets, but because now you have US.

    And we, my dear, are UNforgettable!


  6. how true- I think we all get this and feel the pros and cons of it. It took me about 10 years to miss being alone and realize how badly I needed my freedom and alone time.

    I got so wrapped up in the kids' lives that I forgot about mine- I think I waited too long- because now I WANT to be alone- badly!!!

  7. I love this post! It was just so well-said, well-written and lovely.

    It's so true for me too. Even when I'm enjoying the free moments or hours here and there, they're always with me, pulling me home. And I'm glad.

  8. glad you're back! you were missed!

    i love my alone time... my "me" time (or i guess, as your post suggests, my reinvented "me" time). but i am so glad that i have the ties that link me to love and responsibility and worth. sadly, i don't know if i would have ever found them without the 3 boys in my life. so all that freedom would have probably been unfulfilled searching for me. oh, i was a lost soul for so long.


  9. Welcome back! Great post. For me, even those few hours of precious alone time are never truly mine - I think about the kids, both good and bad, about chores and about the future.

    Truthfully, I wouldn't have it any other way.

  10. Hi guys - I'm loving these comments as we all take a moment to think about what being alone means to us in our lives.

    Em - yes, there is no just "being" any longer - I knew that was coming when we decided to have kids - I just couldn't comprehend how profound the change would be. And yes, we are cosmically connected and yes, we need to meditate. I know I do. :-)

    Sassy - you are in certain ways an earlier version of me. But don't get me wrong, I do enjoy my freedom now. I really do. It's just different than before and will never ever be the same.

    Hi Sass - glad to be back. I think. :-)

    Hey Kim - yep, big difference between alone and lonely and I'm with you...

    Quirk - Yep, I feel as tied to you as I do my kids.
    :-) Okay not really but it's still nice.

    Hi Deb - can't wait to chat more about all of your lost soul days...

    Julia - hell yes. I wouldn't have it any other way either.

    Tena - yes there are pros and cons to this whole aspect of being alone but I am so grateful for my life's path because boy I fit in so much alone time, I finally feel ready to have this different kind of alone time. You know?

    Heather - perfectly said. I'm glad too. That pull of home is brilliant.

  11. Great post. And so very very true. And I guess, although sometimes I wish I was alone, I truly am so glad that I'm not. And that's one reason I became a mom.

  12. Welcome home Lee! How was your girl time? Can't wait to hear.

    For me, it's that I now have a LIFELONG responsibility not just for myself, but for other people. When you're responsible for just yourself it's SO MUCH different than having children and now being responsible for them too. I'm not sure that makes sense ...

    As already stated above, I wouldn't have it any other way!

  13. it's a nice feeling tho, right? did you have a fun weekend away?

  14. Thanks for stopping by, glad you liked the hamster story.

    I went alone to Peru 6 years ago and boy did I feel alone.

    Now, as a husband and a father there is no such thing!

  15. You are right, that feeling never does go away. It dictates what choices you make while you are 'alone', but in the end it is refreshing to know that someone out there does care where you are at that moment in time. :) hope you had a good time.
    ps. so jealous you were in poland! I want to venture there so badly!

  16. funny, i was talking about this with tim last night and it has been on my mind a lot lately. we carry them every where, every moment, even though they have left our physical body. comforting and yet, so so scary too.

    love mamahood, struggle with mamahood, but always, it just is. we are mothers. ahhhhh.

    i will email you about the hats in a bit. thanks for the lovely compliments.

  17. Thoughtful post, I at times wish I had some time alone, but when I do am always so glad to be back where chaos rules. Chaos that makes me smile, laugh, cry and mostly love my life.

    My mom says we are definitely never gone, or out of her mind, and she still worries etc about all of us (we are all grown w/ families). However although she is "alone" now she says she doesn't feel that way because she knows we're "there"

    Hope your trip was a blast!!

  18. It's funny, but I remember THAT moment- the one where you realize your life will NEVER be the same. It was when the girls were 4 or 5 or so. It was an
    epiphany. I think that's when I started drinking vodka.

  19. I know exactly of what you speak!

  20. Oh man, I know what you're saying. Sometimes it's frightening to me that I can no longer just be like, "Hey, I'm going on a road trip to wherever, I'll be back in a week."


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