Sitting alone

Solitude gives birth to the original in us, to beauty unfamiliar and perilous. — Thomas Mann


Edward Hopper
Edward Hopper


Yes, that was me,  sitting in the Walmart cafe at 9:30 on a Friday morning, reading the newspaper and sipping from a cool bottle of water.

I just shocked myself by writing those words.

Me, who had a huge family life and successful careers in advertising and education.  Me, who has written novels,  traveled the world, built a house, raised two kids and put them through college, founded the Merida English Library and a women’s tennis league.  Me,  who was witness and helpmate to my parents’ passing.

As I sat and watched people come and go, I thought about how when I was a girl out with my mother,  I would look at someone — who is now me — and wonder:  Who is she?  What is her life?  Who loves her? Why is she alone?  How can she be sitting in a cafe, at this hour, doing nothing?  Why isn’t she at work?  Where is her husband, her children, her family?

That woman seemed to me to be the saddest thing in the world.  That woman was my introduction to the solitude that is life.  I clutched my Mother’s hand all the tighter.

Now I am that woman, sitting at a table in a Walmart cafe at 9:30 on a Friday morning. A modern Hopper painting.

As I only needed a few things, I decided to enjoy the cool morning air and walk to the store for the exercise.   I picked up the super glue, the mosquito repellant, the walnuts for the cake I would bake later.  That’s the kind of shopping list you have when your family is grown.

I was in bliss as I watched and felt life bustle on around me.  I could appreciate sitting in a cafe whilst most other women were at work or cleaning their houses, doing massive shops at Costco, folding laundry, paying bills and possibly cutting the grass too.

Do I miss the big family life when I was the queen, orchestrating all aspects of our family life and rhythms like a symphony?  Yes and no. Looking back, I’m glad I did it, it seems nostalgic, but the reality is: I did my time.  It was beautiful and it was exhausting. And that moment in my life is over.

Life has these stages and the best thing you can do is live whatever moment you’re in to the max. We can have big lives, big jobs, big families, marriages, love affairs, but if you are lucky, you are sitting alone somewhere at an odd time of day.

Unfortunately, if you Google “woman sitting alone” you get images like this.


woman alone2

Society thinks a woman alone is sad
Society thinks a woman alone is sad


So what is it I want to tell you? That I live a bliss I never would have imagined. I feel drunk with this bliss. It is zen, deep and rich, this moment of my life.

Instead of the seemingly sad painting in my intro above, my sitting alone is much more like this.

The charm of the moment
Charm.  Delight.  Peace.


So my lovelies.  I don’t really know where I’m going with this post…but was compelled to share the reverie I’m in.   People will do anything not to be alone.  How do you feel about sitting, traveling, eating alone?  Even if you’re in a couple, or with your family or friends, there will be times when you are sitting alone, somewhere, waiting for a plane, sitting in a cafe, checking into a hotel.  Do you feel uncomfortable?  Or can you relish the moment?

xo  Liza


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4 thoughts on “Sitting alone

  1. Great post Liza. Nothing sad about sitting alone – in fact it’s a positive luxury to be able to observe all around you, read a magazine or just have space to think. Life is hectic when you’re bringing up a family, looking after your home and climbing the career ladder. Relish these times, feeling comfortable in your own skin is the sign of a life well lived and travelled…

  2. When I think back to my childhood, when most of my free time, especially in the summer, was spent alone reading, riding my horse or down at the creek building a dam and watching frogs, birds and even the occasional snapping turtle wander by, I am amazed at how urban and “unalone” I have been in my adult life. To this day, however, I definitely appreciate even half an afternoon of solitude. I did, indeed, love your quotation from Thomas Mann, and I agree that Google has got it all wrong.

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