Loneliness arrests me in the middle of a laugh in the middle of a joke, I just thought up. I scramble for a list of people to share the punchline with and realize that I must finish the laugh alone.
But it’s not funny anymore.
Driving hurts the eye, the knees, the ankles, and the mind. I kick off my sandals, feel the cold, hard press of the brake and the accelerator and I tell myself that I am not alone. I am in traffic. I am literally not alone. But I am. And no music can crowd the ears and the senses to fill up the burgeoning void that’s my heart. I scan my list of people to call but I have nothing to say now that my amusement dried up, so I drive on, willing time to speed up, wishing it would end.
From traffic to suicide, the leap is dramatic. That’s loneliness, I smirk. Get through the discomfort. Get. Through. The. Discomfort. Get. Used. To. This. This. Is. Probably. The. Rest. Of. Your. Life.
This is everyone’s life and you cannot kill yourself in traffic. It’s absurd. I reach back for my bag and cigarettes and my memories. It’s been months now since I realized that the universe shifted, tilted, and I am alone. And the pain is just as fresh and sharp as the papercut I get when I find my cigarette case. I clutch the lighter for support and swallow the ouch. Didn’t I just want to die? Then how can I complain about a papercut? I suck my finger in consolation as I bring the cigarette to my mouth. The flame from the lighter can burn my eyebrows if I don’t angle the cigarette just so. The flame reminds me to turn misery into fury, into art. Besides, burning (even if a measly cigarette or my thinning errant hair) is more satisfying than slashing at silvery words that meant nothing at all. But fury is crippling too. No art comes out of vengeance. Only vengeance. And if everything is self-inflicted, then I am the infinity snake swallowing my own tail in an Escher etching.
The thought of this grand metaphor puts me in a good mood. I am positive again. Loneliness can be centering, I tell myself in my best new-age guru voice. Yoga, pottery, body work, mind work, everything teaches us about the need to centre. When we feel we end where the ground begins or the ground ends when we step on it, but that negativity is not how you look at it. It’s really about the interconnectedness of everything. Sex cannot centre you even if sometimes (rarely) it connects you. Words can connect you, but like an orgasm, it’s only true for the second it’s uttered and perhaps not even then. But silence can still and instill interconnectedness. Can make you imagine you are a cog in the wheel, that it’s all predestination. That it’s all going to work and the wheel, with you, can turn. It will turn. Up.
I turn off the highway. People on the streets are alone. On bikes, or as they walk. People are lonely or so preoccupied they don’t recognise they are lonely. We have no capacity to love another truly, wholeheartedly. Some of us. We have no capacity to be loved by another entirely, obsessively. Some of us. And you would think that’s perfect pairing, but it’s not. Love simply cannot work because loneliness is an all consuming tsunami.
New traffic rises like a crushing wave and I am amused again that I am crying about loneliness on a drive in a crowded city. It makes me chuckle and I know exactly who will laugh with me when I create this scene and talk about things (although we’ve never spoken about such stuff before) but I cannot because the wheel turned a little faster, the wave rose a little higher, and the traffic silenced my protest, and the joke remained unshared, and the art unattempted, and nothing happened. Only my entitled expectations sink lower with each awareness. I breathe out cigarette smoke. I press the cigarette tighter between my lips to keep myself from laughing through the pain.
And loneliness arrests me in the middle of this wry epiphany. Surely, I can’t be so alone that I have no one to tell this story to. I scramble for a list of people to share this insight with and realize that I must finish the experience, the laugh, the drive, and the journey alone.
But it’s not fun anymore.
Perhaps it never was.