I’m out at dinner. My original plan for the night was to avoid alone as hard as I possibly could, despite a laundry list of things to do, up to and including actual laundry. And maybe that was unhealthy and maybe not. Anyway, despite my attempts to find a tablemate, I’m on a stool watching the tail end of rush hour. I like to come sit here for lunch during days off or on weekend, and people watch. Right now, from this same spot, it’s closed storefronts and an empty candy store.
I walked out here, since it was one of the things on my to-do list, and I didn't see so much as a soul all the way up until I crossed the street to get to the restaurant. I’d say the universe is conspiring, but there’s a big orangey full moon making things a little less dark.
Someone on facebook, the fount of all “knowledge” these days, said something about needing to learn how to be alone. I think she had a good point, though I don’t feel like one of those people who can never be alone. Just a weekend or two ago, I spent almost 36 straight hours alone, watching tornado shows, writing, doing photo projects…
I've had a lot of alone throughout my life, for better or for worse- I tend to think of it as for better, mostly-for the better. I learned to be independent, and I learned a lot more about myself sooner than a lot of other people did growing up. I started out as an only child in a single parent house. I attended a small private school that was not in my town, so my friends didn’t live down the street.
But lest this sound like a sob story- I loved my childhood. I built forts and collected matchbox cars and my little ponies and tried to fly for just a few seconds using a contraption I built out of butterfly nets and then launching myself off the skateboard ramp the landlord’s son had built in the big meadow that was my backyard. I was a spy, an Indian, a pioneer, and a Boxcar child. I read, and I drew and my imagination soared.
I had a special relationship with my mom, and I got unique opportunities as a child to interact with adults more often than most kids do, just because I was there. I had more to learn about being around kids, I think. I got a brother and sister when my mom remarried. I was 10. I had to learn things like sharing a room and whose turn it was for the radio, and how to cope with someone always being in the bathroom. I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and it was a piece that my life was missing that I didn’t even know about.
I think there’s different kinds of alone though. Sometimes alone is teamed up with sad, and on you like some sort of leaden shadow. I’m not used to that alone. To me, alone is a warm blanket in front of a well-tamed hearth. But then sometimes there it is, clawing at your throat from the inside, that creeping aching cry crawling out of your heart.
The good thing about people, specifically the people you love, is that when that loneliness creeps in, they can be the warm blanket that keeps it out. And they do, and they have, and they will again.
But some nights, it’s you and that shadow, and you have to deal with it. And you won’t feel strong enough. That’s how I started this walk. The full moon was hazed over, no one was around and I was trudging through the mud. It was cold and icy, and I kept slipping. And I got mad, because dammit, I was trying, wasn’t I?
I started to think about all the alone times with the full intention of wallowing. About being up in Los Alamos and not seeing anyone most days or even most weeks. About best friends far away from here, about people who probably didn’t see that they were a light in my day.
And whatever, some of that was bad. But I did it anyway. I learned a trade. *I* packed my car up and moved. *I* hiked the canyons. *I*kept my promise to myself. No matter how I am feeling right now, I got off my ass, and I walked my mile and someone else’s, and I figured it out.
I’m not ok, and I don’t like it, and I wish it wasn’t the way it is right now. And I’m consistently 2 milliseconds from unleashed floodgates. I’m 70 things and none of them are great. But I’m moving. And I’m moving because I’m brave, and I’m strong, and I’ve got to. I’ve got no guarantee anything will change, though I hope it does, but I have my own two feet to stand on, and for now that has to be enough.