As the first day of the new year, 2013, nears its end, I keep looking for things that are different than they were in 2012. Some are obvious, like the fact that I have a new job which I am enjoying. Others are not as obvious, like the fact that I am feeling physically better than usual and seem to be slowly, but surely, losing some of the weight I have been meaning to shed for four years.
But not everything is different. The largest cause of stress in my life last year was how dissatisfied I was with my job, and now that I am no longer contending with that, it has opened the way for another concern to take center stage, and it is nothing new to me. I am, and have been for some time, very lonely. I have a best friend, who means the world to me, and she always has my back. I have other friends, who enrich my life constantly. One of them recently said to me “I think you have more friends than even you realize.” He may well be correct, and I value my friends. But that is not the kind of lonely that we’re talking about.
I want to be in love, but I can’t seem to find it. Some might say “you find love when you aren’t looking for it,” or “you’ll fall in love when you least expect it.”
Seriously, does that ever not come off sounding like the hollowest bullshit ever spoken?
Love does not just fall on your doorstep for you to stumble over as you leave the house one day. It takes work, and awareness, and desire. It is much easier to avoid love when you don’t want it than to find it when you are wishing for it. But no matter how lonely I get, no matter how cold I feel at night with no one beside me, no matter how much I miss feeling a hand in mine…love isn’t just appearing out of nowhere. I have to look for it.
I’m not sobbing in my sad-bastard loserness. I’m not declaring my life over because I’m not sharing it with someone. I’m just saying…I’m a lonely guy. That is why I made a wish last night, when the ball dropped and the midnight fireworks began illuminating the sky. As I looked out at the exploding colors, standing amidst a roomful of happy, cheering, boisterous friends and strangers, no trace of a smile came to my face. Because even though I was surrounded by people, I felt more alone than I had felt in a long time. All I heard was too-loud shouting. All I felt was crowded. All I saw was the fireworks display, and the faces of people happier than me reflected in the window glass. So I wished that next time, when 2014 is being opened for business, I could leave behind the loud parties and celebration, and celebrate a quiet New Year’s Eve, alone with someone I love, who loves me in return.
To me, that would be everything…yet it does not seem like too much to ask.
I was barely a young man when I met my first real love. She was a wounded romantic, and I was young and on fire. We walked through an empty playground and I told her I loved her, because I did. I reached inside and withdrew my fiery heart, the brightest and most trusting of all my hearts. I gave it to her because I knew she would always care for it. In time, her scars spoke lies to her, and she believed them. She poured water upon my fiery heart, and the charred remains dried up and blew away.
My burns were still swathed in bandages when I met my second real love. She was confident beyond the clouds, and I was stone-like with wariness. We kissed beneath winter icicles and I told her I loved her, because I did. I reached inside and withdrew my stone heart, the stoutest and most cautious of all my hearts. I gave it to her because I knew she would always care for it. In time, she deemed married life a vexation, and divorce a rite of passage to true Womanhood. She squeezed blood from my stone heart, and the dust left behind scattered and blew away.
The cracks had just healed when I met my third real love. She was purposely distant, and I was redesigning myself. We stood under a shower of autumn leaves and I told her I loved her, because I did. I reached inside and withdrew my paper heart, the intricately folded and most expressive of all my hearts. I gave it to her because I knew she would always care for it. In time, she found the expressiveness tiresome, called it abrasive. She tossed my paper heart upon the fire, and the embers floated up and blew away.
My eyes were newly dry when I met my fourth real love. She was manically pixie-like, and I was hopeful yet fragile. We each crossed the skies to be briefly near each other, and I told her I loved her, because I did. I reached inside and withdrew my glass heart, the wide-eyed and most delicate of all my hearts. I gave it to her because I knew she would always care for it. In time, she came to fear the hopeful closeness, and pushed my glass heart away. It shattered to sand upon the floor, and the sand caught the wind of my sighs and blew away.
I cannot know what, or who, I will be when I meet my true, real love. She will be everything I have sought, and I will be frightened, yet willing. We will fill the spaces of each others’ souls, and I will tell her I love her, because I will. I will reach inside…and find that all my hearts are gone, save the one true heart that makes me myself. She will reach inside and withdraw half of her heart, and say “I will share my one true heart with you, because I know you will always care for it.” I will reach inside and withdraw half of my heart. I will give it to her because I know she will always care for it. In time, my heart will be one with hers, and hers with mine. That is when I will know that I have found…
…my true, real love.
He sees all his friends, old acquaintances, even his family, navigating life like masterful downhill skiers. Slicing between flags at blinding speeds, looking as calm as they would were they walking the grocery aisle. But then he looks to himself and sees a one-armed man trying to juggle for the first time. With axes. Blindfolded. And upside-down. Nothing comes easily except gaining weight and procrastinating. He doesn’t know why he can’t right himself on this river of existence. But at the same time, he does. Admitting to himself that he is lazy and unmotivated is not the hard part. It is sadly easy. What is difficult for him is fighting that truth. It is easier to stagnate and be mad at the universe than it is to stand up and cut your way through the jungle between yourself and your ideal. But there is always something missing.
If he had a better job he would be happy enough to make changes.
If his job had a better schedule he could be more creatively productive.
If he had a girlfriend he would be confident enough to take the steps needed to grow.
If he had more money he could work less and use that time to work out.
If he had higher self-esteem he could maintain a relationship.
If he wasn’t this, he could be that.
If he was here, he could go there.
If one, then the other.
If up, then down.
If future, then present.
If he had motivation, he could write. So he stood up, took a step, and he wrote this.
I was born here.
The door creaks and moans its protest as I enter. The floorboards cough dust upon my bare feet with every step. I lay my hands on the old furniture, still covered in the yellowing bed sheets, looking like so many corpses, and wonder why I bothered protecting sofas and chairs that I thought never again would receive guests.
I was born here.
I pull the curtains back from the dirt-coated windows and turn to see the now illuminated living room and, for a fleeting moment, it looks as it did once upon a time. The cat stretches on the new carpet, the Christmas tree blinks and shines in the corner, my family gathers around the television, my nephew thumps across the floor in search of new adventure. When I bat my eyes the years reassert themselves, and the cold clenches down upon the house once again. It takes me several seconds to realize that my mouth was open and my breath was drawn, ready to speak to these old ghosts. A loneliness the world has never known settles into my chest.
I was born here.
I light the candles. I remove the sheets. I clean the windows and the floor. I make everything come to life again. I sit down in the old recliner, preparing the stories I will tell. The door creaks and moans its protest as you enter. Come in. Sit down.
I have so much to tell you.