Alone in a City of 13 Million

Alone and lonely: opposite sides of the solitude coin.

Do we walk around fully aware of what is going on, or are our faces buried into smartphones? Or, do we seek out human presence?

Seventh floor windows open in this building, a rare phenomenon in Tokyo. I listen to the daily flow of traffic and laughter of lunch-bound workers.

I’m on my own. But with internet are we ever completely inaccessible? It is a small comfort knowing that if I need to reach out, I can.

Isolation. Oh the irony of only being able to realize fulfillment of my New Year’s resolution of “disengagement” by being hospitalized. I was finally able to untangle myself from obligations, fend off favors being sought and avoid people I don’t like.

This was my Club Med vacation experience.

Friends’ emails ask if I am going “stir crazy.” In Alaska, we call it cabin fever. “No” is my response. I enjoy my own company. I pull up past memories or let my mind wander. I have internet and two friends who visit when they can. What more could I wish for?

I took great pleasure banning the the rest of the world. “No, I don’t want any unannounced visitors.” That earned me a smile. If life has a remote control, mine stays firmly in my grasp. I will choose, thank you.

For now, my world of physical contact consists of twenty people. Three of them already feel like extended relatives, waving to me when we pass in the hall. I call out in English “Have a nice day,” and get the response of “See you tomorrow!” from the Japanese staff. I make them laugh and catch them off guard whenever I ask how their weekends went.

An open seventh floor window keeps me connected as I sit in my room in a city of 13 million.