A Love Letter To Being A Loner

Photo: Serge Bielanko
photo of author by author

Friday nights roll around and I'm good.

The kids are at their mom's and I've gotten most of my writing done for the week. I could wander down to the bar, have a couple of drinks, and see some people I know. Sometimes I do that, but a lot of times I don't. In the bathroom, I run through my options, but I already know my answer.

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I'll stay in. I'll be alone. I'll work out on my living room floor, make a salad, watch a half-hour of Netflix, drink a beer, go up to the bed, and read 20 pages of The Remains of the Day. I'll fall asleep this Friday night with my face in a novel. And I'll be a happy S.O.B. doing it.

Friday nights are strange for loners. They have this glass-cut air of possibility about them; anything could happen.

That's why, whenever people even say the word Friday — when they merely speak its epic name — the word that comes jumping off of their teeth is supercharged, doused with cologne, smells like Jager and pizza, and winks slyly with the promise of at least the possibility of the best sex you or anyone else has ever had.

That's a lot of weight for one night to drag around. But it's the truth. I love that about Fridays. They're so cliché, but the cliché is real.

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And so, as I stumble down into my 44th year of living the regular kind of life that no one really ever dreams of living: divorced/single/not dating anyone special/barely getting by financially/three magic kids that shoot my heart up with narcotic love — I've been thinking a lot lately about my loner status.

I'm tired of fighting it. I'm bored with trying to convince myself that I ought to be out there. I'm coming to terms with certain truths:

  • I'm cool.
  • I'm cool because I dig being by myself.
  • I dig being by myself because I feel pretty cool hanging out with myself.
  • Being out in the world is something I love, but I'm not always at my coolest when I'm doing it.
  • So, I tend to hang out solo a lot. Which is cool with me. Which makes me cool with myself.
  • Therefore, I'm cool.

Life is so perfectly messed up. That's why I dig it so much. It's why I try and write about the darker side of the majesty of my mind more often than not. I'm nothing special. Hell, I've run so many people away from me by now that I'm always a little shocked when other people keep wanting to be near me, get to know me, have a drink with me, or spend even an hour or so of their own life alongside me.

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I'm not too old for Friday nights, mind you. I'm 44 in a couple of weeks, I play in a rock band, and I get off on living as much as anyone I've ever met. But ever since I was a kid I've known that so much of the living I get off on is the stuff going down/up in my head.

That's where loners might struggle sometimes. People expect other people to want to be a certain way. People often need you to be some kind of dancing bear because they want to be a dancing bear too, and if you're not doing it then you're forcing them to wonder why they're doing it. And people don't like to be forced to see the dancing bear in the mirror, you know?

It took me years to understand that. I used to think that because I didn't really want to party or be in the middle of a crowd meant that I was unusual. Now I know it isn't. Now I know it's my lonerism is likely the very thing that's kept me alive this long.

As far as the meaning of life goes, we each find our own way eventually.

Deep down, I truly believe none of us is ever more comfortable/happy/satisfied with ourselves than when we're walking down some street alone, standing in some forest alone, floating slowly across our living room floor alone, talking quietly to ourselves, saying, "Damn. This is perfect. This moment right here, right now? It's just perfect."

And for some of us, that happens on Friday nights.

Much of my recent past has been defined by heartbreak and by long, introspective hikes into the very valley of it all. I go willingly. Any partner would shatter my vibe. My own existence dazes me. But I don't give a damn. I like walking around in a daze. Subtly shell-shocked suits me.

Eventually, I'll move away from certain ways and mindsets I've taken on lately. It's inevitable. We're just those gulls you come across in the middle of the ocean. How the heck did they get there?

The days keep rolling me over, the nights keep on coming. And sooner or later, someone or something will ride into my world on the back of some unexpected evening. 

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But even then, I'll still have huge parts of me that are a loner to the bone.

And funny enough, finally admitting that to myself will probably go a long way — right around the time life sneaks up behind me and starts pushing me up around some bright, shining Friday night bend.

Serge Bielanko is a writer and musician whose work has been published on Babble, Huffington Post,, and Yahoo.