07:32 PM, Lower Plateau, Montreal It’s Christmas Eve. Right now, here, most people are in the company of loved ones, eating, drinking, preparing to exchange gifts, celebrating Christmas from the night of the 24th to the 25th. I am alone. I am not planning on going anywhere. This is due to: 1) I don’t really talk to my parents/relatives anymore. By now, they could all have had babies and their babies could be having babies and I am not even sure I would have any way to know. 2) I am single. My roommates are gone. Celebrating Christmas with the families they’re growing distant from. 3) I am emotionally damaged. It’s hard to tell if I have emotions anymore, they feel more like high-pitched screams of various intensities coming from inside my body. Because of this, I only seem half-fazed by the shit evening ahead of me.
7:34 PM I am staring at my computer screen. I think, “Shit.” I think, “What am I supposed to do for the next twelve hours.” I think, “My life is stupid.” Then I think, “No, wait, you chose this, this was your decision, you made your life stupid on purpose.” I could probably have asked around and found some sort of makeshift family to spend Christmas with, but then didn’t even bother trying. What annoys me about spending Christmas alone isn’t the boring evening so much as this insuppressible yearning I seem to have re: “appearing to be normal” and “belonging,” something I both want and don’t want.
7:41 PM I wanted to spend Christmas quietly working on my book, but then finished writing it maybe a week and a half ago, and now I am fucked, nothing to work on. I am staring at my computer screen and can see my own reflection staring back at me, a kind of infinite abyss of my bored face. I think about Christmas last year. I got pretty sick on December 24th, which gave me a psychological out for doing nothing. “That was good,” I think.
7:53 PM What am I supposed to be listening to? Rap music? Local bands? A recording of Tibetan monks praying in a forest? Even violent music seems weird to listen to right now, like I am trying too hard or something.
7:55 PM I put on party music, as if trying to convince myself that this is a party. “This is a party,” I think. “I am a party,” I think. A lonely party.
8:02 PM I should probably get drunk, but I am pretty broke these days. I also rarely drink alone. I think, “What would a Tibetan monk do right now?” Spin a prayer wheel, do some sort of meditative backflip, perform a ritual dance as a mean of self-purification and overcoming the need for others. “I can’t do a backflip,” I think. “The entire point of spending Christmas with other people was to have an excuse to drink, and you fucked that up,” I think.
8:11 PM My “Christmas meal” is a homemade Christmas salad, which is just a normal giant salad with vegetables and tofu in it and things. Other than being red and green, it’s not very Chrismas-y, but I generally don’t care about food and haven’t bothered making one in a while, so it feels special, sort of.
8:20 PM Refreshing my email inbox. I usually receive an email from my mom that says, “Merry Christmas” and other pre-formatted sentences. I haven’t received an email for her this year. I kind of want that email now that I don’t have it.
8:24 PM I keep thinking, “This fucking holiday is the worst” non-stop, like it’s some sort of ritual prayer or incantation. It’s soothing.
8:36 PM I agreed to cat-sit Rachel’s cat for the holidays. At first, the cat was being defensive about it, but then it started sleeping in an empty box above the fridge and the box apparently had magical anxiety-relieving properties. Then two days ago, it got in heat for some reason and began making erotic, distressed cat noises non-stop and rubbing itself violently against things. I didn’t want to have to do this, but the only solution I found to get her to stop was to relieve her using a q-tip, which is something I think someone had told me you can do, but had never actually tried. The cat was surprisingly cooperative, like the whole thing was some sort of sex game we were both part of. Now it sits in the empty box above the fridge and looks at me as if it wants more.
8:40 PM Feels like Christmas would be a lot better if we decorated people instead of trees, like if I could decorate my mom with a giant plastic star and candy canes, she would look cute I think. Might make me want to patch things up.
8:49 PM Christmas alone feels like good practice for dying alone.
8:52 PM Just noticed that I seem to have neighbors who are also home. There’s a man with a ponytail and a woman with blonde hair, probably in their thirties, likely a couple. They’re wearing simple, casual clothes and are pacing around the kitchen a lot, but don’t appear to be cooking anything. Not sure if they’re going somewhere later. Kind of hoping they’re not and that this is our thing and that I can find solace and meaning in the man’s ponytail gently swaying left and right as he paces around the kitchen.
8:56 PM Seriously considering logging into online backgammon or something, for the sole purpose of talking to someone, anyone for whom it’s not Christmas Eve, it’s just a fucking Monday. A Tibetan monk maybe.
9:02 PM Death-staring whoever’s online on Facebook chat right now.
9:11 PM Suddenly feeling tired, as if I can hear my body whispering, “Just give up, just give up.”
9:19 PM I think, “Okay, fuck this.” I decide to go walk around, just to see what Montreal looks like. Bringing my phone with me, hoping to Instagram depressing stuff.
9:21 PM Typing the word, “Instagram” reminded me to check Instagram. Turns out tonight it’s a discouraging wasteland of wrapped gifts guarded by trees and alcohol brands of unknown origins and festive sweaters. Someone posted a normal picture of a cat for some reason. On Instagram, often seems like one photo out of maybe four is a picture of a cat, but tonight the obligatory cat picture just feels like some sort of oasis of sanity.
09:35 PM Walking down St-Laurent. A lot less people, traffic than usual, but there’s some activity. Seems like there are three categories of people: 1) Walking with someone else and enjoying the other person’s company 2) Obviously going somewhere 3) Hobo-looking.
9:37 PM This off-brand restaurant appears to be open. I don’t remember ever seeing anyone in there, but right now they seem to have about 10-12 actual customers sitting in pairs at different tables and drinking coffee from styrofoam cups. The harsh lighting gives the room a hospital-like kind of feel. All the major coffee shops in the area are closed, guessing this is what explains the clientele surge.
9:42 PM This convenience store is open but completely empty. The clerk appears to be feeling particularly dejected, just staring at the wall, looking glum and doing nothing. I keep wondering if he’s doing performance art or something, “confused man searches for greater meaning amidst having needlessly kept his store open on Christmas Eve.”
9:50 PM Small woman anxiously waiting alone on the side of the road for what I am guessing will be her ride, appears to be holding presents, seems overly suspicious of anyone walking by. As we exchanged glances, I felt either the weight of her judgment or the weight of my self-judgment. Definitely some kind of weight.
10:03 PM Bearded man standing alone in front of a store that’s closed. On the other side of the street is a pizza thing, which is open. I enter the pizza thing to warm up and order nothing and observe the bearded man observing the closed store for a few minutes. He’s just standing there.
10:10 PM Now on Sainte-Catherine. I walk past a hobo-looking person and then another. They exude a different vibe than usual, as if enjoying the lack of crowds, not feeling like they’re being judged, like being alone in your apartment and free to act however horribly it is you would act if it weren’t for other people.
10:18 PM It hits me now that all the Subways I’ve walked passed by so far are open, can’t think of a coherent reason why. Clerk at this one seems to be inexperienced and confused and running around a lot, I keep feeling like he’s about to get yelled at by the unhappy British guy from Hell’s Kitchen or something.
10:22 PM Thought this sex shop had a sign that said, “Open,” turns out the sign says, “Sex shop.”
10:30 PM There’s a man drinking alone in a bar that looks closed. I double-check. Bar is very much closed.
10:45 PM Went inside a McDonalds to warm up. About 15 people in there, including this couple. Girl didn’t want to talk on the phone to her boyfriend’s mom, guy made a face like that’s a big deal.
11:11 PM This woman seems mesmerized by whatever is playing on the monitor in front of her, barely moving or noticing that her store has no customer in it, as if practicing some sort of advanced philosophy centered around a combination of reduction and denial of the outside world, to concentrate on a single point over which she has control. By far the best coping strategy I’ve seen tonight, tempted to ask her for life advice.
11:23 PM Back home. Rachel’s cat is crying erotically again and appears to be yearning for a boy cat to make cat love to her. I try to imagine what kind of boy cat would brave the cold and snow on Christmas Eve to come to her. Some sort of snow tiger maybe? I tell the cat, “You’re not being realistic,” but she doesn’t seem to care.
11:32 PM Not sure what else to do to make this day go away.
11:33 PM Still not over.
11:46 PM Checked on my neighbors who were home before. All lights are off, which means they’re either somewhere else celebrating Christmas or having sex. Either way, I seem to be feeling betrayed. Christmas alone together was our thing, now it’s not.
12:00 PM Ugh.
12:03 PM The cat wants to be petted. At least there’s that.