Climbing the stairs to my Attic space knowing that my SO has just begun his journey to our Alaskan abode, I feel alone.  This feeling is partly due to the ungodly early hour of a little past 5 AM and partly due to the fact that I am, indeed, alone. 

I do not succumb to crawling back underneath the warm down comforter but begin puttering ~ re-arranging my table altar that always seems to get knocked about when the SO is here, straightening bright colored throw rugs, putting away this and that.  These motions, these minor tasks begin my re-claiming of the Attic space as my own.  Space that will not be physically shared day-to-day for many days to come. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I do not have a ‘don’t let the door hit you on the ass on your way out’ deal going on with the SO.  No, it is not about not wanting him here.  My effort to reclaim this space as mine is about coping with what is, the reality of my day of being alone now. 

Since childhood, I have required sizable chunks of time to myself ~ solitude.  Historically, I have created and treasured these moments, hours, and sometimes days that I could call my very own.  In these recent years of living far from family and friends, I have come to realize that choosing alone time and being alone are two different things.  I have experienced some awesome and painful lonely moments here in Berkeley. 

So this morning as I go about moving this and stashing away that, I am pondering the meanings of loneliness and solitude.  The images that appear for the search word solitude, look an awful lot like sad and lonely.  Initially I was disappointed, thinking that I equated solitude with contentment and calm, not sadness.  But then again 4-1/2 years ago I did not, could not, have known what a chasm of loneliness awaited me.  Today I will admit that for all their differences, loneliness and solitude, share a similarity or two ~ maybe even three. 

    ~ [photograph courtesy of Flickr photographer]