We humans are so interesting. We crave companionship, and yet we crave alone time, too. My friends who live alone do their best to arrange social time on the weekends, while friends who are in relationship confide they are desperate for time apart; time to get centered and pull themselves together.
Henri Nouwen talks about these conflicting pulls as well -- he goes to a monastery to get some alone time with God, but then gets distressed when the monks don't converse with him, or he doesn't get mail from his friends.
... and of course some of us need more -- or less -- social time than others. For myself -- perhaps because my husband is around most of the time -- alone time looks particularly appealing. But I know from experience that when I do get it I like seeing that light in someone else's window across the water in the morning; like knowing there are folks nearby I can visit if I'm in the mood -- or call upon in case of emergency.
But ours is also a pretty close neighborhood: because our environment is so unique, and occasionally challenging, we keep track of one another, know each other's names and phone numbers, and watch out for each other's homes. It's a community: we know that what happens to one of us happens -- at some level -- to all of us, and that's important to me.
My job is to get better at feeling that way about the larger world out there.