True North

What do you do when you're lonely? Do you scroll deep in your texts for a person you haven't connected with in years? Only to be reminded of why you left it behind fifteen minutes later? Do you drink? Do you obsessively snuggle your dogs? Do you numb yourself with hyper-stimulating video games? Do you weaponize your maladies into chores and productivity? Do you work so many hours it quietly literally doesn't leave time for you to contemplate the onerous nature of existence? Do you double down on a modestly competent partner fearing the Valentine's Day abyss? We choose our brand of isolation cigarettes and we are loyal customers. But what fascinates me is how varied the manifestations are. For such a rudimentary human emotion, you'd expect some overlap in the social Venn diagram. Yet, loneliness is evasive, shameful, and hidden by our society. Even our art fails to address loneliness head on. At best our Taxi Driver's circle the drain. No one is willing to say it out loud.

I am lonely. I mean it in the conditional, temporary sense and in the chronic foundational sense. And what surprises me is how difficult it is to write. I am lonely. Squeezing the three words from my chest feels like an exorcism. I'm not sure I've ever attributed those three words in that particular order to myself. Yet, I've felt it inexorably since puberty. Why did it take thirty years to shake the cat out of this tree? 

For the purposes of this exercise, I am going to consider romantic loneliness as merely a breed of its larger emotional phylum. To be alone is a matter of objective fact. To feel alone is to suffocate under the oppressive weight of shackles chained to nothing. Loneliness is not only possible, but paradoxically common in the company of others. There is no more powerful magnifying glass for feeling misunderstood, irrelevant, or unheard than a group. Sometimes it comes from a bullhorn. Sometimes it creeps up on you. But the next time you find yourself doom-scrolling on your fifth beer after a twelve hour shift while realizing a celebrity looks like your ex, know that the ghost of loneliness present is knocking on your door.   

If we all want to be loved and accepted, why are we so fucking incredibly bad at expressing it? How do we all end up like this? I've been loved from the opposite ends of the spectrum. I've basked in oppressive, unhealthy, toxic love and withered from being cast aside. And what's left is an unreliable barometer for love, care, and understanding. What the living hell does a reasonable amount of love even look like?

Drinking from the firehose or languishing in the vapid emotional desert. There has to be a freeway exit in-between. This bus runs express between two poles. At least it has since for as long as I can remember. 

I ain't no civil engineer. Not going to solve a goddamn thing. Except to say, I said it: I'm lonely. In life, we get a compass, not a map. I don't know where we are going or how we'll get there, but pack your shit. Cause this sucks.

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