When I’m lonely, I’m rarely alone. Those many sleepless nights I’ve had in New York when you’re almost positive that the entire city that never sleeps took an Ambien except for you? I happen to like those quiet moments. I don’t feel detached. On the contrary, I feel more in tune to to the rhythm of things when there’s nothing but silence.
I feel most alone at 2pm on a Saturday when you’re surrounded by nothing but couples or groups of friends and you don’t fit into either category. You’re just kind of floating by languidly while everyone else seems to be busy connecting with other people.
I feel most alone on a bad date, when you’re sitting across from someone who clearly doesn’t get you and never will. You wonder how someone that looked so good on paper could get lost in translation. You wonder just how hard it is to find someone who looks at things the same way you do. Are you really such a rarity? Is the way you look at life really so odd? That’s loneliness to me: feeling like you’re not being heard or recognized and sitting across from a person who was supposed to be part of your tribe but isn’t. Not even close.
A few months ago, I went to brunch at a friend’s house and I didn’t really know anyone there. When I entered the apartment, it was like a scene out of The Big Chill. There were ten or fifteen people cooking food together dancing in the kitchen and, like, listening to Motown. Everyone seemed close, like a big giant family, and I immediately felt lonely because even though I have a great group of friends, they’re all sort of scattered. And I don’t think many of them would cook pancakes and sing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” with me. It’s always so strange and alienating when you get a peek into someone else’s world and see how they do things differently than you, isn’t it?
Basically I feel the most lonely when I’m supposed to be feeling a connection but can’t or won’t or don’t. You bank on feeling one way and you end up feeling another. That’s the worst. That’s far more isolating than eating brunch alone or going to the movies alone or being awake at 5am. Because those are choices. You are doing a solitary activity. You expect it. You don’t expect, however, to feel completely alone at a bar or a party. You left your apartment to socialize and you ended up feeling more disconnected than when you started. That was not supposed to happen! That’s why, for me, life has the ability to wound me more when I’m outside and doing social activities than it does when I’m alone in my bedroom. Nothing can hurt me when I’m alone, besides myself. It’s the other people that I worry about, it’s the other people that can really make me feel truly lonely.