Cleveland has taught me many lessons... one of which is how to be alone. Now I'm not talking about the occasional loneliness one might feel for a day or two when they are surrounded by family and friends but are having a difficult time connecting and relating to those around them. I am talking about coming home to an empty apartment day after day, spending countless hours, days, weeks, and months with casual acquaintances you say "hello" to at church and occasionally spend a night out but are not emotionally invested in each others lives. I'm talking about touring the town by yourself because you asked the two people you knew might say yes and they already have plans. The loneliness you feel when you do not want to leave church because you know that when you get home you will be greeted to an empty apartment and will be forced to eat yet another meal by yourself. Dreading holidays because you do not have the 8 hours of work to distract you from being alone and you realize that all your "friends" are cooking out while you are eating take out Thai food while sitting on your balcony. The loneliness you feel when you need to move and you realize that you have to ask for help and the limited number of people you know are too busy to help you. The loneliness that makes you afraid to leave your house because you wonder what happens if you might end up missing, hurt, or dead someday because nobody would know for days or weeks because you do not have anyone to check in on you.
In my 24 years of life this is the first time I have truly been alone and what a learning experience it has been! Regardless of what my relationship is with my family, I at least had them for the first 18 years of my life, then there were roommates and friends throughout college, the other teachers in China, friends and teachers in Moab, and somebody was always there to talk about the day at 7 Kailuana Pl in Hawaii. (Now this is not to negate the wonderful co-workers and the few friends I have made here in Cleveland and Akron, because they have been wonderful to me, but I do not come home to them and they have their own families and friends to spend their free time with. During this time alone I have developed a list of lessons I have learned about being alone:
1. Having somebody say "Hello" to you is such a simple thing but the moment it is taken from your life for 15 months you realize how significant it really is.
2. Cooking dinner is much less enjoyable if you are going to be the only one eating it.
3. Funny moments become much less funny when you are the only one there to laugh about it.
4. Friday nights just are not the same because there is nobody to sit and eat out of the ice cream container while watching a girly movie.
5.Sight seeing is much less interesting when you have no one to say, "Oh my gosh, look at that" too.
6. Unless you are willing to be seen eating out by yourself, you waste the first 15 months of your time in Cleveland not enjoying the local restaurants.
8. Inside jokes no longer become funny if you are the only one who gets it.
9. Cleaning the apartment becomes much less fun if you do not have anyone to sing with you to 90's pop
10. Holidays are the absolute worst.... no seriously try sitting at home when the weather is nice, knowing you could be grilling out if only you had somebody to do it with.
11. Late night trips to the grocery store are not filled with as much laughter.
13. TV shows and movies loose their appeal if you are the only one laughing and quoting the funny one-liners"
14. You have nobody to witness you doing the "I am trying to zip up my zipper on my dress dance" and then eventually help you.
15. There is nobody to tell you that the outfit you just bought is actually unflattering and no longer in style.
16. Having crush's on boys is no longer enjoyable if you have nobody to share that information with.
Anyways I'm sure there will be more added eventually.... but this is a pretty good start.