I’d like to say it was inspired by a kind conversation, one that made me feel all warm and gushy about myself. It wasn’t. The truth is, it actual comes from a terribly defensive place. Have I become so single note that the most, nay, the only noteworthy thing to be mentioned about me is my excitement? My enthusiasm? I mean, I even addressed it here, in a not-surprisingly self-deprecating way. But it certainly is a trait I have. Perhaps my loudest.
Still, I was feeling defensive, mocked even. I’m not sure what part of my personality comes in conflict with the very real situation wherein I don’t have a very tough skin, I’m terribly sensitive, and I generally keep waiting for the other shoe to drop in all of my relationships. Gentle ribbing is often read, through these eyes, as “Wow, what an annoying piece of shit I am. No wonder they’re making fun of that aspect of me.” See, e.g., Doctor Who, Dragonlance, Homebrewing, Kir, Gayngs, Grizzly Bear.
See generally ENTHUSIASM.
I don’t even know where to start. You know why I love the Doctor? Loneliest man in the universe – never any problem finding people to care about, to be with him, but can never make anyone stay.
No, that’s trite affectation.
Do I start with the Headphones Nights? Those moments of sadness where I drink too much, by myself, and put on my headphones, and listen only to sad songs, loudly, and dance and chain smoke, and generally refuse to sleep until its 5 am and my entire body aches?
No, that’s a touch exaggerative.
Let’s start with being alone.
I wasn’t alone. We had each other, and it was good. But then, in the long and silent darkness, we didn’t. She was alone, and I was alone. We were alone together. I think that’s the biggest part of it all – how can you feel so helpless, so alone and so lonely when you have someone right there. Someone to reach out to, to touch, to grab and scream in their face that, hey, I’m here! Why don’t you see me?
You wouldn’t believe how lonely it is to be bereft of that thing, the only thing you built your life around.
And it was a long time of being alone in this state. I know she would say the same – the ending wasn’t the ending wasn’t the ending.
I’m getting too esoteric about it. Let me try this:
We moved to Baltimore. We had my family, and we had some friends, but on the whole, we had each other. We didn’t really take to the new people we met in her art program. We didn’t really take to the people I met in law school. We didn’t really take to my emotionally bullying family. We had each other, and a cat, and a dog.
It’s times like these when, as an adult, you start to realize that perhaps you’ve made your last new friend. No one wants to be friends with the fat-and-fatter guy whose only interests are video games and netflix. No one is going to come join you in Baltimore when they have better things with more interesting people in another town, impossibly far away.
I can’t, and I wouldn’t, begin to tell you where it all goes. But for many years, it was just us. And everything else didn’t matter, because it was just us.
But then one day, suddenly, the forced realization: it was just me.
I lost a lot of things, but you need to understand what it all amounted to: I was hugely in debt in a career with no real prospects, I was divorcing, and losing my home, and losing my dog, and for the foreseeable future my cat, and I was losing my things, and I was ashamed, and I was afraid, and I was done. Life was done with me.
And just so we’re clear, you can’t imagine how alone. I thought that being with someone but unable to reach them was the worst feeling possible. Then I was cast off, or perhaps I cast myself away. But that is where I ended up – afloat, hopeless, and desperately, terribly alone.
It didn’t all happen overnight. I passed the bar and was sworn in. I kept my head semi-low, though not too low for a drink or two. And then things started to roll.
Josh gave me a call about a job opportunity way above my estimated value. He even said, when I submitted the application, “Look, I don’t want you to get your hopes up here. The other applicants are way way more qualified… but at least you can get some good interview experience if nothing else.” But I got the job.
And Kenji called me, and said “I know you don’t have a start date yet, but the apartment next door to me is opening up, and its really cheap, and… you know, next door to me!” And I found a place to live.
Chazzie sold me a record player, and Justin took me out to a restaurant or two, and Kir moved in, and I started my job, and to my surprise I loved it, and I loved my coworkers, and I loved the city, and I loved the direction my life was going.
And suddenly, I started having hope again.
I had written it all off. I had written off the prospects for my life. I had written off the possibilities. I had stopped caring about myself, and had stopped even considering a proactive approach to making my own life better.
And suddenly, like a melodramatic writer making a comparison to a cancer survivor, I had a second chance at life.
This is what you may not understand: I’m lucky. And I got to crawl out of a terrible, dark, self-sabotaging place. I was alone, and I moped, and I hated life. I let so many things slip out of my grasp, so many possibilities pass me by.
So that’s what it is: I’m not doing that any more. And I don’t care if you find it endearing, or charming, or funny, or annoying, or affected. Every single day that I wake up, from now on, I am living a life that I don’t deserve, on a second chance that no one else got. So every cup of coffee is going to be exquisite. Every meal I make an amazing opportunity. And every friend I make – you were not supposed to be in my life. And you like me. And maybe you should, but maybe you shouldn’t, but you do, and for someone who didn’t think he’d make another new friend in his life ever again … you are absolutely a gift. And all of the old friends I never thought I’d be close to again … the ones who were there for me, who pushed me forward and held me safe … I never thought I’d feel less lonely. But out of the darkest place, helping me find a better way … how can I not be excited about life? How can I not be excited about being loved?
I’m still lonely. Its still dark sometimes. There are still hard and awful truths out there. There is the realization that sometimes people will see the true you, and they will not want to stick around. There’s the truth that people may only love a version of you. There’s the simple truth that your fears of being alone and unloved, unable to connect with anyone romantically, of people being cruel and judgmental, of not living up to expectations, of being less attractive than you wish, of being mocked, of being human as well as you try to hide it … that shit’s not going away. And I will continue, at all times, to be this lonely, scared, insecure and, surprisingly quiet young man who just wishes someone would pay him a compliment, or take the time to ask, or simply get to know him without the trappings. Who wishes he was interesting. Who wishes someone would stay.
But, as I know I am going to hear from several of you how you’re disappointed in a “sad” post [which I always chalk up to missing the bigger picture point of such posts, because I think there’s an affirming point to this post], let me say this:
Yes, I’ll continue to be that sad, scared, lonely person. But I’ll also continue to be someone who is really grateful for those moments in life, whatever they may be, that make me stop to think about where I am, and who I am with, and how I got here, and most importantly (see TITLE OF THIS BLOG), the moments that make me examine why I am smiling so broadly, and laughing, and so singularly in love with my life.
And I’ll continue to be excited about it all.