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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Solitude just isn't all that bad

By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Columnist

A recent study revealing that Americans have fewer close friends with whom to socialize and share confidences really hit home.

I realized some time back that I didn't have much of a social circle when I had to list the office as the emergency contact in case something happened to the kids, because I couldn't think of anyone else. For a guest list for a Super Bowl party, I had a hard time coming up with more than a name or two outside of work acquaintances.

Now, that's just sad.

Of course, I know lots of people from work, PTA, church, paddling, soccer and whatever, and chat them up as the situation allows. I'm pretty sure that if I died today, my funeral would be well-attended. But who can I call for a ride to pick up my car from the shop or when I need a cold one or three at pau-hana time?

My parents seemed to have 'uku-million friends when I was kid, and a full calendar of cocktail parties, multifamily beach barbecues and neighborhood potlucks.

Yes, times have changed. We barely know our neighbors, except to wave if we happen to be putting the garbage cans out at the curb at the same time. Perhaps the social isolation detailed in the study is due to the fact that we pick up stakes and move around so much more now, or because we rely on e-mail instead of having real conversations. And most of us are so wrapped up in our children's lives that there's little time left to nurture relationships with other grownups.

One recent weekend, with the keiki at a campout, my husband and I found ourselves home alone. We don't have other couples who we do stuff with, so the best we could come up with was dinner and breakfast out and an afternoon nap. I considered going to the beach while hubby played golf, but couldn't think of anyone to call. Normally, I'd just take the kids.

I've been living on Maui for 20 years, but my bestest friends remain on O'ahu, where I grew up. Haven't found anyone here who's reached that level of closeness. Maybe it's because we became friends before the distractions of children and life's other realities, and you can neglect bestest friends for long periods of time and still stay close and pick up where you left off when it's convenient. (Hey, guys call me!)

Yet, except for an occasional yearning for a movie or beach buddy, I don't consider myself lonely. I'm sort of a private person anyway, and cherish whatever solitude I can wring from a busy week.

Making new friends just seems like too much work. I don't want to have to clean the house, put on makeup or be nice in order not to scare off potential playmates. I'd rather be myself.

Reach Christie Wilson at cwilson@honoluluadvertiser.com.