How To Be Alone


Remember the question your history professor asked you that morning you spent crying in his office. “Can you love someone from afar?” Remember that it seemed impossible.

Get back together.

Break up.

Get back together.

Break up.

Take long drives. Frequent bookstores. Drink coffee and listen to classical music in your car when it rains. Only when it rains. Buy a bunch of indie folk albums and forever associate them with this time in your life. Listen to them when your heart needs reminding. Become consumed by your sadness. Use it as fuel for your art. Hate your art.

Fall for a strange, quiet boy. Let him photograph your hands while you play piano in a consignment shop. Come on way too strong. Realize he has walls you will never be able to tear down. Try anyway. Fail. Lend him your favorite book. Ask for it back when he says he hasn’t started it. Look up obscure bands to try to relate to him. Give up for now.

Remember someone you met a few years ago. Walk around your empty town at night with him and listen to him talk about B movies you’ve never heard of. Make a mental note to watch them. Kiss him on a park bench because he’s charming. Move too fast. Meet him a week later at a grocery store and buy a box of overpriced tea. Go home with him. Notice he has a theatre poster in his bedroom. And lots of books. Put these in the column that tells you this is a good idea. Remain slightly unconvinced. See yourself out afterwards. Feel used. Come back for more. Lend him your favorite book. Get tired of the sick feeling in your stomach. Tell him you can’t anymore. Wait a month before getting your book back. He didn’t read it either.

Visit the boy you liked when you were fifteen to watch a movie. Cuddle on the floor while you watch. Forget the movie. Realize later that it meant nothing. Do it again.

Get back together.

Spend a summer getting to know each other again. Don’t completely fall apart when September rolls around. Wait for December.

Break up.

Don’t get back together.

Visit the boy you liked when you were fifteen when you’re feeling especially lonely.

Visit the strange, quiet boy late at night. Go to his bedroom and notice the uncharacteristic string of Christmas lights strung along the walls. Kiss him and notice he tastes of pumpkin pie and whiskey. Listen to Depeche Mode while in his bed. Think that life is a movie. Ask him to skip the love song because you know better. This isn’t about love. Do this a couple more times. Realize it doesn’t mean anything. Tell yourself you knew it all along. Make a painting of the kindest words he said: “I do nothing for you.” Consider leaving it at his door. Decide, instead, to keep it as a reminder. Forget.

Walk around the city with a boy just because you thought he was funny. Walk awkwardly with his arm around you. Sit on a bench and strain your neck while he kisses you. Tell him you’re tired. Text him “Sure!” when he says that you should do it again sometime. Avoid him. Remember from time to time that he still owes you thirteen dollars.

Drink a bottle of red wine in your room in an hour. Walk across campus to see your friend. Have her take you home as soon as you get there. Think maybe this is what love is.

Meet a guy online. Agree to let him come to your room in the middle of the night. Never hear from him again. Feel a strange sense of accomplishment from a one night stand. Try not to feel used.

Find love unexpectedly. Spend the first few weeks of your relationship drinking beer and cuddling. Be the girl his family loves. Bake him bread. Fall hard.

Study abroad in Spain for three weeks. Spend your nights at the pub around the corner. Talk to your love as much as possible. Sit in the pub watching futbol with a guy from your group. Drink ron y colas and decipher Spanish poetry. Enjoy the silent company. This is the good kind of alone.

Return home to your love and share the summer.

Picture your life together.

Go to different schools when August comes.

Spend every weekend in his bed. Go to brunch. Watch a lot of television.

Notice he doesn’t tell you good morning anymore.

Drink too much and start stupid fights. Don’t shower together anymore. Feel him pull you closer to him in his sleep. Know it’s just a habit.

Lose him.

Spend a few days in bed.

Go to his apartment to pick up your things. Cry in his arms. Notice that he’s been cleaning. Wonder why. Purposefully leave something so you have an excuse to see him again.

Wake up on Saturday morning and see that he is “in a relationship.” Drive straight for seventy miles. Turn around.

Visit him the next day to hang out. Notice he washed his sheets. Try to accept that your body no longer lingers in his bed. Wonder if any of you still lingers in his heart. Look at him a bit too fondly. Make him uncomfortable and get asked to leave.

Spend time with a boy who walked you home one night. Go to lunch with a friend. Stay up late watching spoken word poetry. Have a beer with the boy who broke your heart.  Try not to be upset when he talks about her.

Call this coping.

Love him from afar. TC Mark

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