having no one else present; on one’s own.
I have found myself in a place I honestly never thought I’d be. Alone. I actually thought I had been alone before many times. I spent 19 years in a relationship with the same woman, and never had a child, I felt alone much of the time. I worked 16 hour days, 4 days a week for almost 6 years. That was very lonely. I have attended weddings, family gatherings, holiday meals, and a plethora of other events solo. These were lonesome. I have sat at coffee shops, bars, and restaurants, nary a soul at my table. All of these things left me feeling forlorn. I was watching the local nightly news one night at about age 36, and turned off the TV, and went to try to sleep, and realized that all the crap I just watched was weighing on my mind so heavily that I couldn’t sleep. I arose from bed the next day after tossing and turning all night, unplugged the idiot box, and put it in the basement. This is one of my most proud moments, but strangely enough it left me feeling secluded too, because I realize now how much people actually share with each other about what mind numbing, brain melting, reality TV show they watched the night before.
At age 41, hopelessly and helplessly in love for the first time in my life, bounding on the greatest years of my life, I have found the true meaning of alone. 1. having no one else present; on one’s own. When I wake up in the morning, there is no one there to wish a happy day to, or to roll over and cuddle up with, or kiss good morning. I eat breakfast with only my dogs to share the morsels with. They, however, rarely like to have any meaningful conversation about the coming days events, or the funny meme’s they may have seen on Facebook the previous evening. They are good company at times, but they are surely not ‘someone’. When I run to the local coffee shop for my morning coffee, the dj on the radio sometimes makes me laugh, but when I look to my right to see the empty seat, and no one to share that laugh with, well that’s not very accompanying. When I return home to work on my garden and the dog looks at me as if to say ‘dude no one looks at these but you, and I am going to pee on them as soon as you walk away’ well that really just irks me to no end. Then as I go in to take a bath I get myself all set up for my half hour of relaxing time before work, that I actually do enjoy alone. I light a cigarette, put my drink on the edge of the tub behind me so I can do the traditional reach behind the head, upside down grab, twirl to the lips, that I now have down to a science. Next, I put my phone near me in case the one or two friends I have actually text or call me with great news about something that they saw on TV that I can’t relate to because I don’t own one. The first time i actually felt alone was when I finished that bath, and realized I had no towel to dry off. To make it worse all the towels were in the basement nice and warm and freshly laundered in the dryer. Story of my life.
To finish that part of the story, i know you must be wondering what i did… Thankfully I had taken off my underwear and socks and laid them on the bathroom floor. I shook myself as dry as I could like a dog, while mine looked at me with their heads cocked sideways in wonderment, stepped out onto the dirty laundry, shimmied to the linen closet, and grabbed a few hand towels, and dried off with those. Ah the joys of solitude.
Being only 41, you may think, well at least you have your parents if you ever really need someone to talk to. I was the youngest child of six which means my parents were just about my age when they had me. This assured me that I would get much less time to spend with them than my siblings. This short time was made even shorter when my angel of a mother was diagnosed with lung cancer 2 years after quitting smoking, when I was 23, and she just 62, and then died 3 months later. My father, a man that was closer to me than any other human probably ever will be, Like an Oak tree, strong well put together, intelligent, strongly rooted, a solid patriarch, and head of my family died from Alzheimer’s disease when I was 39. I am, after 2 years, nowhere near done grieving him. I was thankfully left with 5 magnificent siblings to lean on. While being a great source of comfort and my best friends, I keep a very odd schedule in order to pay the bills, and it makes it hard to spend time with them.
I have friends in places I have been, lonely relationships, divorced, (after 19 years it felt like a divorce), I even have single male friends that choose to be ‘alone’. The difference in all of these cases is that there is someone there. Either they have children, family members living with them, even roommates. As annoying as they can be roommates are definitely ‘someone’. I have a friend who spent a few years in Alaska in the military, and he said that was lonely. I believe whole heartedly that that must have been lonely, when even the sun leaves for months at a time. I also have a friend who spent time in New Mexico in a small village who lived in a hut while her husband worked 16 hour days. She spoke of the vastness of the landscape, and the llamas outside her window that became her friends. This genuinely sounds very lonesome, and I get it, I really do. Although, at the end of the day there was ‘someone’ there. Someone to chat with about the long boring day, someone to share a meal with, someone to hold and fall asleep with, a distraction from the thoughts that wander endlessly through a lonely mind. I know there are an abundance of lonely people on this earth, and that it is not nearly only I who feels this. I am just very new to this feeling, and it really gets to me at times. I mentioned I keep a strange schedule. I work 12 hour days on the weekends, and have Monday through Thursday off while everyone else makes their living, and feeds their families. I find myself at times going four days while only uttering the words ‘Do you wanna go outside?’ or ‘Want a treat?’ or ‘Go for a walk?’. Sometimes I open my mouth after hours of silence and solitude and realize the words just won’t come out because my throat is dry from just breathing.
I am however, learning the joys of solitude and ways to deal with the loneliness. Sometimes I will just play some music really loud, and sing with it just to make some words. I have also found joy in people watching. I will take my camera somewhere, and walk along looking for something to capture, and many times will just watch others interact, and enjoy each other. It sometimes makes me feel less lonely, sometimes more.
On a recent trip to the shores of Lake Erie for a view of the sun being doused by her waters for the day. I arrived almost too late, the sun was half gone already. I watched as it disappeared below the horizon. I watched as the sky and clouds played off of the disappearing lights of the sun. This is the most amazing part of the sunset, as the sky changes from orange to grey any million different combinations of color can be seen. On a clear day like today, the entire sky becomes an amazing sheet of color fades, as our shadows disappear til morning.
As I sat there awed by the beauty of the sky, a car pulled up along side me. A Chinese man about my age, got out of the driver side of the car singing what sounded like a love song, in his native tongue. He came around the car, and opened the passenger door for his wife. He grabbed his camera, and they walked toward the edge of the lake directly in front of my car, he sang all the while. He began snapping pictures of his wife against the fading sky, and he sang. This moment moved me to tears. I thought wow, does that really happen? A moment that perfect? I then realized that maybe that’s why I was there to witness that moment, for the simple fact that moments like that do happen. At this point in my life alone isn’t so horrible, however, a moment like this every once in a while wouldn’t be so bad either.