I was reading Johns post about being lonely today and it gave me pause for thought: do I get lonely here?
It was one of those things I did worry about when I made the move from living in the city of London to living in a fairly isolated part of Lancashire. I only knew a very small handful of people here and left behind 19 years of people in the South, but is loneliness something I feel?
As some of you may have gleaned, I have fairly reclusive tendencies, not very healthy I know, but I am perfectly content in my own company for the most part and rarely find myself at a loose end, even though sometimes I don't speak to anyone for a day or more. Call me a hermit. But I don't feel lonely.
London is possibly the loneliest place on the planet, full of people so wrapped up in their own lives that the barely cast a glance in any direction besides forward. It is a city that always gives you the impression that everyone else is having a good time (even though this is not true) when you are not. I lived in my last flat there for 6 years and didn't know any of the neighbours at all. I once sent a card to one of the new inhabitants of the block (the neighbour who lived next to me) just to say hello and welcome (I was feeling particularly warm and fuzzy at the time) and it went completely ignored. A year later he asked me out of the blue, if he could 'steal' my wifi internet for a couple of weeks as his was being reconnected. It was the first time we had spoken. I wanted to say 'no' so badly, but goodness prevailed and I let him. It was a small satisfaction that it turned out the signal wasn't strong enough for him to get it. This was the sum total of our contact.
Cities can give you an intense feeling of isolation, simply because you are surrounded by so many people, none of whom are interested in you.
Within a few days of living where I do now, I knew the names of most of my neighbours, and heard many times from many different people 'well if you need anything, just knock on our door'. It is very different.
Now perhaps these people are not yet 'friends', because our conversations have revolved around gardens and weather so far, but I know that they are good people and I enjoy the short conversations we have. I know that there is someone there if I get into trouble or need help with something and I know they are interested in me (partly because I am somewhat of an anomaly around here) but also because they are neighbourly.
Now, that is not quite the same thing as being lonely, but I can safely say that it is not really something I have experienced since coming here. Any contact I have with people, be it in a shop, or out for a walk, I find them friendly and ready for a chat should you wish to. If anything, I have more time on my hands than I did before, as my trips away are intense then over. Peace, quiet and silence has always worked for me.