You sit down at a table in the park around lunchtime. There are four chairs. One by one, couples arrive and ask you if you’ll be needing the other ones. No, you reply with a smile. Soon you are the only single person occupying the tables in the park. For once, there’s not a homeless singing man to be found. You’re by yourself, but you’re not alone. You had a horrible day at work. You did everything wrong and couldn’t seem to turn it around. In the grand scheme of things, your day was not that bad. But sometimes when one thing upsets you, you think of the million other things that have, or possibly could, upset you and you swirl into a spiral of unnecessary sadness. You think you can wait until you’re safe and back at your place, but the tears are prematurely streaming down your cheeks. People awkwardly avoid eye contact with you, the girl who can’t stop crying on the crowded 6 train. You’re surrounded by people, but no one is comforting you. You’re by yourself, but you’re not alone.
You take your laptop to the coffee shop around the corner. You buy an iced green tea and set up shop. Everyone around is in the same boat. They’re by themselves, studying or reading or writing. But when you take a break and sip your tea, you look around the room and notice that most people are smiling. They’re typing furiously on G-chat or texting away or talking on their phones with their headphones in so it looks like they’re listening to music, but they’re not. No one is G-chatting you. No one is calling you. You haven’t received a text since yesterday. You’re by yourself, but you’re not alone.
You lug your tired butt to the janky gym a few blocks away. It’s actually a few blocks further than your roommate thought it was when she decided to buy two month-long memberships one night after too many glasses of wine. But it was on Groupon, and it’s probably one of the better drunk decisions ever made. You don’t feel like working out, and you don’t feel like being alone in your own mind. But when you look up, you see your roommate across the gym and you smile at one another, knowing that this story – and this period of your life – is one you’ll laugh about later. You’re by yourself, but you’re not alone.
At the end of the day, after you’ve worked and cooked and gymmed and watched a movie and laid out your outfit for the next day, you still want to call that person. The person you always used to call, but you can’t anymore. The person you thought would always want be on the receiving end of your phone calls, but has recently proven otherwise. You’re sad, and then you shake it. Because there are so many other names you can click on in your phonebook. So you do. You pick up your phone, and you call someone who actually wants to listen. You’re by yourself, but you’re never alone.