Monday, June 18, 2012

Like A Cactus Tree

I was remembering a time, years ago, when I was sitting on a restaurant patio with a few friends. One of them was a woman who had what seemed to be the ability to channel other beings from another realm but may have just been a personality that she used to say things in a way that lent them credibility. I mean her eyes would change and she'd get the same crooked smile and her hands would move in a very particular manner when she was channeling. And who knows? At the time I believed everything.
Anyway. She turned to me and gave a me look that was close enough to the channeling face and said, "I just realized how alone you feel. And it makes me wonder if you feel that alone when you're with me what does it mean about me?" You never really knew who was talking, which is why almost everything she said took on the quality of extra true.
However, I was relieved to have someone see that part of me because, in a weird way, it made me feel less alone. I also loved that she took responsibility for the part about her own feelings, which gave me the space to be aware of how my loneliness caused pain for others. In other words she wasn't trying to make me feel less alone for my own well being or hers. She was just marking the moment.
I am the only child of a single mother. I spent a lot of time alone, or with adults. Plus I was fat and ostracized. There are a lot of moving parts that create the loneliness.
I think I romanticize alone-ness. I remember hearing Barbara Streisand sing: never never will I marry. Wide my world. Narrow my bed. and Joni, of course, in so many songs. I'd stare out of the window of trains and planes, journal in hand, writing my alienation. Something about being alone in the world, particularly for a woman, seemed exotic.Of course as a child I longed for a best friend and eventually that longing turned into wanting a lover. 
There were three men I thought I would marry. Many more I wanted for an hour, or a day, or a week but three that I wanted to live with and have children with and grow old with and ... just ... you know. Not be alone. 
The first was Gary. We were thirteen. He was the center on the football team and the basketball team and he wrestled. I learned to like sports. On school day afternoons I sat a picnic table between my apartment and the row of houses in which he lived and pretended to do my homework. He went by on his daily run.We smiled shyly and muttered hello. Just before we moved to Maryland there was a school dance at which he showed some interest. I often wonder what would have happened if we hadn't moved. I imagine us married and with lots of kids.Of course there's no way to know if that would have happened and there are many reasons why moving was probably the best thing that could have happened.  Still. I wonder. 
And I wonder if I would have still felt alone. 
It's not all about a lack of romance. Some of my loneliness was habituated by things I didn't chose. Some of it became an identity I fostered. It's not always a sad thing. Sometimes it enables deep internal sense of being. For years I saw it as a pathology and a wound. And there are days when it feels like a punishment. But not always. 
And her heart is full and hollow


lynnie said...

The older I get, the more I feel we live in a completely fucked up culture that leaves a whole lot of people alone and/or feeling alone. I feel like some of that is changing, but that might be wishful thinking on my part.

I am reading Blood, Bones and Butter. I had to stop because I think she might be about to describe slaughtering a chicken and I might just have to skip that part. I am a wimp.

Tish said...

Yeah the chicken scene isn't terribly gruesome but it is sad. I hope you like the book.

lynnie said...

I like it a lot! I'm just very wimpy when it comes to violence.