the gift of lonely
“Lonely? Lonely is my most faithful companion,” I chirped, my words entirely at odds with my tone. That seemingly-tossed off sentence had been simmering for months. I give good quote.
And so I spoke shiny, glossy, bloody truth.
Lonely is my most enduring relationship. We met when I was born, torn from warm water into cold air. When I kept a flesh secret for the family spider, when my best friend made out with her boyfriend at lunch and left me to eat alone, when I scanned the call display while my man was in the shower, when I was barely, begrudgingly, miserably pregnant but lost the baby without anyone to hold me, then Lonely was my only lover.
I cheat on him with turnstile dating, frantic sex, bids for attention, comfort food, gossip, good friends, gorgeous children and copious amounts of writing, but he is my soul’s 4am. We meet every night.
It isn’t just me. I’m convinced it is the human condition. We’re skinned entities, almost always distinct from each other. Separate. And yet we cannot exist with each other. We are meant to be together. We are one. And one, we all know, is the loneliest number.
So when my friend told me he “conquered loneliness in 2004”, I was astonished, then envious.
He suggested I do the same.
Later, he told me “conquered” wasn’t really the right word. It was more about coming to terms with lonely as an emotion, and emotions are transient and temporary feelings rather than a permanent state of being.
But for me, lonely is neither an emotion nor a state of being. Lonely is a shadow. He goes where I go.
So, what if, instead of conquering him – that sounds like such a protracted mess – I confront him? Maybe even make peace?
What if I say,
Yes, we are going to be together forever. It’s you ‘n me, Lonely.
Maybe I won’t ever marry again.
Maybe I will be on my own for the rest of my life.
Then I would have to
- double my income instead of hoping a hypothetical man will bring in half what I want
- save for retirement (do people do that anymore? Retire?)
- find ways to work or volunteer with babies
- consider adopting or fostering a child
- take myself off the unfulfilling-relationship hamster-wheel
- finally take up salsa
- travel more
- buy a house or a condo or just something, dammit
- be a better friend, sister, mother and daughter
- forgive the ones who harmed me
- forgive myself – because it will be a long walk and I’d like to enjoy my own company
- get a dog
- find God
Maybe lonely could be my best friend, if only I’d let him.