Category: friendship

On Loneliness and Being Alone

a·lone
adjective
1.separate, apart, or isolated from others: I want to be alone.
2.to the exclusion of all others or all else: One cannot live by bread alone.
3.unique; unequaled; unexcelled: He is alone among his peers in devotion to duty.
adverb
4.solitarily; solely: She prefers to live alone.
5.only; exclusively.
6. without aid or help: The baby let go of the side of the crib and stood alone.

Alone offers choice. She prefers to live alone. Without aid or help. Stood alone. Alone is powerful, independent. Alone is a choice, a desire. Even unique, unequaled.

I am used to being alone. It’s something I learned - hard, but fast and well. It’s something I excel at - being happy with my own choice in my own time. Without aid or help. Standing alone. There’s no note of fear or regret in my alone. It is cherished, it is desired. Sought.

lone·ly
adjective
1. affected with, characterized by, or causing a depressing feeling of being alone; lonesome.
2.destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, support, etc.: a lonely exile.
3.lone; solitary; without company; companionless.

There’s a tipping point on the fine line between alone and lonely, and I don’t know how it gets crossed. One minute I “prefer to be alone.” But then, on slow weekends like the one that just marched past, I find it tipped: destitute of sympathetic or friendly companionship, intercourse, support. A lonely exile. And I am lost in the affected, trying to climb back out on fingernails, and with too much to drink.

This space between alone and loneliness will swallow me up for days. But the definition is more than apt: it’s a lonely exile. Alone is my choice. Loneliness is a choice that others make for me.

Late November

Late fall is a rusty crown on tree tops as the first white dots cross the sky line and disappear on the cracking pavement. The first lights twinkle in branches and building tops as the sun sets. Our breath takes shape in the air. I remember this feeling; the first snow, the cusp of winter. The anticipation of what’s to come - the cold nights and warm lights and the scrapbook moments.

Today is laden with memories of another day. It is a slow motion reel playing on the walls behind us as we talk about how things have changed in the last two years.

A day spent with her reminds me of a weekend two years ago, with cold and winter hanging in the air of another city, another country. London, 2009: an adventure in small indulgences. Champagne, high tea and the best of brownies. A misguided attempt to walk the city in brand new heels. A failed venture to eat dessert for dinner. A hilarious experiment in balance on ice; we were skating at the Tower of London and she fell when I fell, to laugh with me on the ground.

In late November, I think of how time passes. How can London be two years ago? How can we be where we are now? How are we going where we’re going?

Late fall, or early winter: it’s the first of many snow falls. A different country. A different day. But still an adventure in indulgence, filling the walls of spa with the same chatter, despite the “Silence Please” signs all around us.

Chandra and I at Westminster Abbey, 2009

The between hours

The sun was a gold disc, blurred by salt patterned windows; the horizon a bleary somewhere else. We drive the way of tackle shops, motor stores and cheap motels. The roads lined with general stores and diners that belong to people like Frank and Al and Nana. I listen to a melancholy playlist and that song comes on. The song that fits like a second skin. The song I carry with me always.

We drive until the sun disappears, until the lights of the city appear in its place. After five stale hours, the children two seats ahead get antsy. We adults wish that we, too, could whine are we there yet? We’ve places to be, but mostly we’re tired of between.

Twenty six hours in another city. The heaviest hours I’ve felt in a long time, passing both slowly and too fast: burdened by the weight of sadness and carried by love. I pass on the songs that carried me here and hope they will offer some strength.

My memories are full of Greyhound buses. Of looking at my face in window reflections on buses, trains and planes. Tired eyes and bedraggled hair look better in the forgiving dark glass. I watch one city disappear and another appear in the fog before dawn, and I think of a quote I heard years ago:

Coming home from very lonely places, all of us go a little mad: whether from great personal success, or just an all-night drive, we are the sole survivors of a world no one else has ever seen.
- John le Carre

Beautiful poetry

I awoke this morning to a beautiful gift from Kitty.

Kit’s the poet I always wished I could be. Seriously, her poetry is so beautiful and vivid, it takes my breath away.

And she wrote this for me.

Another Ariadne

I have seriously talented friends.

Distance

“Sometimes people ask me how you can be best friends with someone you only see twice a year. All I can say is, when it comes to Fae, my other half, how can I not?” - March 9, 2009

There have been times in my life, crying in front of a computer screen, that the distance has seemed like too much. Times when all I want is to be able to be there for my best friend the way you’re supposed to be. There with a pint of ice cream. There with a hug. There with a shoulder to cry on.

Somehow, we made words enough. Black and white on computer screens or cell phones. Words have power, and usually that was enough.

It’s not enough this time. The words are useless. Being here for her isn’t as good as being there for her.

There is a whole new level to long distance relationships. The part that means when something awful happens, you can’t be there in an instant. Can’t sit beside the hospital bed. Can’t hold her hand. Can’t make her soup.

The distance has been killing me for 34 days. It has never seemed for far. I have never ever felt so useless.

me and my girl in Baltimore last fall

But I wish my car could drive to her tonight
Then I’d know everything is gonna be alright
Yes then I’d know it’ll be alright

-Joshua Radin