I've been hostessing at a restaurant on the weekends as a way to make some extra cash money here in LA. I like it because it's easy and I get to people watch which is basically one of my favorite things to do ever. So far I've noticed a lot of people dining alone. And it's not like it's lunchtime which is more common for people to eat by themselves--it's nighttime, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights and they come in, ask for a table for one, and enjoy their meal.
It gets me thinking. I'm not one of those people who looks at someone eating alone and thinks, "Aww! That sucks, I feel sooooo bad for them." I actually enjoy spending time by myself...I think it's important. I love going into a bookstore, Starbucks, taking a walk, running, driving and blaring my music--all of these things alone are so wonderful. But I've never gone to a restaurant alone, especially on a weekend when it's super busy and nights that are generally spent with other people. Tonight it got me thinking as I watched a man eating his chicken alfredo by himself. Loneliness vs Solitude.
It'll be a month here in LA in two days and I can't believe it. This month has absolutely flown by. There's still many things to worry about, but overall I am at peace. And God has totally been blessing Chanelle and I and everyday I just want to grow closer to Him. I've really been experiencing a lot of loneliness here. You really learn how important it is to have community and friendships when you suddenly don't have them anymore. It is hard having all my friends so far away and starting over completely from scratch. I am learning to find joy in the moments I spend alone. I am so grateful to have Chanelle and we spend a lot of time together, but I also spend a lot of time by myself. I've taken to running by the beach which is AMAZING. I am so thankful I get to do this. It is great to go for a run and by the water, the air is just amazing. It is clear and powerful and the salty sea-air makes my head feel good.
I also spend a lot of time alone before work. I usually get to work about an hour early because of wanting to avoid traffic. I like this time to spend at Starbucks or Barnes & Noble. The first time I walked into Barnes & Noble before work I nearly started crying. How silly is that!? It was just the strangest, most wonderful sensation of familiarity. The smell of a Barnes & Noble brought me all the way back home and I just had this overwhelming sense of love. I also LOVE bookstores. I love the quirky little independent ones but I also love Borders and Barnes & Noble. I can't wait until I finally have my own apartment and can decorate it and make it so cozy. Right now it's weird because we're only staying somewhere temporarily, so it doesn't feel like home. LA in general doesn't feel like home. I just feel it in my heart--that want and yearning for a place to call home.
Anyway, in these moments alone I start to ask myself tough questions. I start to think about things that I normally avoid with the buzz and hum of life. I spend these times with the Lord. Gosh, I can't tell you how much that helps me. When I'm feeling lonely or scared I just remind myself Jesus is right there with me and my heart soars. The fact that the God of the Universe knows my name and knows the inner longings of my heart amazes and comforts me beyond anything else. Henri Nouwen says this about solitude...it's one of my favorite quotes and I've probably used it before:
“As soon as we are alone,...inner chaos opens up in us. This chaos can be so disturbing and so confusing that we can hardly wait to get busy again. Entering a private room and shutting the door, therefore, does not mean that we immediatel;y shut out all our inner doubts, anxieties, fears, bad memories, unresolved conflicts, angry feelings and impulsive desires. On the contrary, when we have removed our outer distraction, we often find that our inner distraction manifest themselves to us in full force. We often use the outer distractions to shield ourselves from the interior noises. This makes the discipline of solitude all the more important.”
Oh Henri how I love your wise, perceptive words!! So often I am afraid to be alone and to experience this 'inner chaos.' But don't we learn the most when we finally face what we are afraid to acknowledge? I am trying to be thankful for this time in my life where I don't have so many tangible relationships. I miss my friends--they are all over!! And I miss my family so much. And I love meeting new people here, especially those in the community group Chanelle and I have joined. It is nice to meet new people but it is also hard when every single friend you have you literally can't physically spend time with.
I guess when I look at these people eating alone, I wonder if they choose it or if it is by default. Either way I love it. Because they are out there, in the midst of life, enjoying a warm meal. I have no idea about their story. I love the mystery around them. I wonder if people look at me when they see me alone and wonder about my story. Probably not, but I like to think other people love imagining and wondering as much as I do. Anyway. I guess I just want to write to anyone who is feeling lonely. I know it's so cheesy and cliche to say "You really aren't alone" but seriously YOU REALLY AREN'T ALONE. For one, God is right there with you whether you believe in Him or not. Two, you can always just think "Well, I know Nina is probably sitting somewhere alone right now, so that makes me feel better." That last one is not meant to be sad at all, I mean I'm just being honest. I don't know many people here yet so I actually am probably alone. But know that loneliness is different than solitude. Just because I am alone does not necessarily mean I am lonely.
Anyway, these words were in me and needed to get out. I'm sorry about the scattered feel to the post, sometimes my thoughts just don't come out as eloquently as I want them to. Thanks for reading guys. I really can't express to you how much it means to me that people actually read my blog!!