When you feel lonely.
When you feel lonely, it comes with a certainty, a sentence that ends, not one that drifts off, a hard stop.
You are alone.
Loneliness is unconcerned with truth and facts. It can’t be lured away with the proof of front door arrivals, calls, or touch.
It’s got a resilient, rhythmic march. It’s loud in the way loud things are, but terribly soft in the way it creeps low, like smoke. Rises up. Has you putting your hands around your throat as if to motion, I cant breathe.
Signaling, to know one in particular, because there is no one in particular, loneliness does not allow for spectators, or even participants. It is a solo sport.
It is airport terminals,
Going home to an empty house,
Saying no and aching to say yes,
It is being new, always,
But feeling old, and tired,
And, here we are again.
It is asking someone to leave, when you wish they’d stay,
It is the place on the ground you take then,
Will I always be here alone.
It’s being in the car with someone you are no longer in love with, staring the opposite way, wondering how, and when, and who will say,
We don’t love each other anymore.
Who will say into the space, the thing that could save both of our lives, but might take us to the ground, first.
And might take us away from each other, for good.
And loneliness will have you fighting for something that is no longer there, because an idea, and times that were better, and downright magnificent even, will have you remembering when…and your life will become a series of times you remembered when, but from this point forward, life will become a place you don’t care much to remember.
Loneliness can indeed be in the company of others, and that’s the trickiest kind of lonely, of them all.
But lord knows, we will remember when, all day long, and exist on that, as though that were enough, as though it were our food and water, instead of call loneliness in to the front door, sometimes, we’d rather be lonely, together.
Look at us, we’re together.
Look at us, we’re in the car, going to that place, with all of those people…together.
Look at us, we couldn’t possibly be lonely. Together.
We have each other.
And it’s the inability to see, it’s your own hands, around your own throat, and its your own air, that you cant breathe.
Loneliness, has it’s own beautiful purpose.
But the biggest lie loneliness arrives with, is the one that says,
It will be like this forever.
No one could ever understand how this feels.
And you gotta look at that lie, like the mother fucker that it is, and say, no thanks, there’s no room for liars in my house. You can stay, for a while even, but you cant move-in.
I am aware lately, that I have been feeling lonely.
And when I feel this way, I go back through my choices, page after page, circle, in red pen, where I may have ‘gone wrong’.
My thoughts around these choices fill the margins, and have deep underlines, loops, and requests for rewrites.
I do this act, with zero compassion.
The paper I am grading lately is the one titled:
I am old and alone.
It’s an extremely inspiring title; I know.
The particular chapter I formed in my head this past week is the chapter titled:
You should have married Gary.
Why didn’t you marry anyone in your 20’s?
All your ex’s are married now.
Some people your age have been married, divorced, and remarried again, by now. WTF.
You only ovulate 2-3 days per month. Hurry up.
Your 401K needs work.
Your Christmas cards and wedding invites come addressed to (Lyndsey Fryer & Moose) this is both hilarious and awful.
Metabolism in your 30’s is a real thing.
You should have gone to medical school.
Everyone else is at the finish line, and you’re tying your shoe at mile 3.
But back to the Gary chapter,
The Gary who my best friends lovingly called ‘platonic Gary’ cause I could never admit how much I loved him over the course of he and I over 2-years.
The Gary who picked my friend and I up from a night of bowling/happy hour (mostly happy hour) during a winter storm advisory in his blue Honda Civic. And laughed and laughed and laughed as though I was the funniest person in the world, as I sang as loudly as possible into my snowbrush microphone, as he maneuvered the 7 snowy miles home.
The Gary who fell down instantly, with me every time I’d bomb down the hill on my snowboard, and who’d playfully press snow up to my face, and say, don’t worry, soon this snow will be nachos, your favorite.
The Gary who built me a beautiful desk with his hands, when I started a new job.
The Gary who said here, they’re yours now too, in reference to his mom, dad, and sisters and brothers.
The Gary who’s blue eyes were always twinkly, cause he was always up to something, who’s hands were almost always dirty, cause he was always building something, and who was always always always telling me how loved I was, how much he loved me, I think truly understanding that I didn’t believe him, and both of us hoping, the time he said it, this time. I finally would.
The Gary who looked me in the eye, when I confessed, in tears and shame, that I had dated a woman, just before him, and cared about her very much, and how confusing that had been. Who held me by the shoulders, and looked me right in the center, and said ‘Lyndsey you love who you love, and that’s what makes you beautiful.’
The Gary who spent hours and hours in an old parking lot, teaching me how to drive a stick shift, not cringing at all when whatever the heck I was doing was clearly putting his car at-risk. He’d say ‘you’re getting it! you’re super close! keep trying.’
The Gary who left out of my front door, and never came back in, the day he said to me, standing in my living room, with his hands by his sides, and his eyes pleading, but his knowing certain:
You wont let me love you.
And I wondered how many times he wanted to say that, and how brave he was to finally say, what was the truth. How lonely he must have been with me, courageously trying again and again to love a girl, who then, was so very far away from loving herself.
I was so very far away from loving myself.
You can tell when someone is not coming back in the door.
And I know he didn’t say the easy thing, but he said the one thing he needed to, so he could start breathing again.
I was startled when he left, cause I knew then, that I was alone. And that is a startling feeling. And I missed sitting next to him on the couch, and I missed the way he reached for my left shoulder and pulled me into the left side of him to kiss the top of my head, and I carefully folded and put away the scarf and gloves that his mom knit me, embarrassed, that I could not love back, this beautiful man. This kind man. This man who I spent far too long trying to figure out why he would love someone like me, someone who had come where I had come from…instead of just trying to love him back.
That was more than a handful of years ago…7…8…year ago.
And for a long time, he is who I measured everyone against.
But when we were together, what I couldn’t be then, was his moon, or even his stars. He looked at me, as though I was a constellation, as though he were peering at me from a telescope, with the wide hopeful eyes of a boy falling in love with a girl, pointing to the sky. Where all he can see is her.
Where all he could see, was me.
I couldn’t be then, someone’s everything. Or even something. And to be frank, the way he loved me, the perfect way he saw me, only terrified me deeper that he would eventually figure out what a fraud I was, how broken. And he would leave. That kind of love did not feel free, that kind of love felt like I would screw it up.
He was a bit of a loner in a way, he had friends of course. But I judged him on a deep level for this one, I’d say to my girlfriends, I mean, I don’t want to be with someone where I’m all they got.
And I still don’t.
But I was so harsh about it. I get it now, as my circle draws smaller, and deeper, what a beautiful thing to be someone’s constellation.
I saw a book dedication the other day, and whew did it get me.
The author, he dedicates this book to his wife.
And it reads.
(book: Rules of Civility x Amor Towels)
What I do believe was missing for Gary and I, and may have always been missing, is that I never ever did anything wrong in his eyes, I never disappointed him, I was only ever the best…and I did, and I do need a level of challenge. In lovers and in everyone in my orbit, who is not afraid to tell me to cut the shit, that I am being far far from my best. Who has me in their world, but also their own world…a fear I still have deeply.
I don’t want to be anyone’s, everything.
I didn’t then, and I still don’t.
I want to be simply, the one who makes your world grow brighter. Everywhere.
His intention was to love me, of course, but that kind of love didn’t feel free for me, I am a comet, there will be times where I am so far, so deep in a project, in a conversation, in something where I am all in, that you cannot see me, even in a telescope. But you will always know, that I will always come home.
And on Sundays, especially we’ll breathe in equal measure, and you will brush my hair off of my forehead, and I will rest my hand on your heart, and it will be our extraordinary life, set in these most ordinary moments.
It was Gary, who, weeks after he walked out of my front door, met her, the girl who adored him, the girl who, from what I could tell, not only loved, but thrived being his world. And as I slowly watched their life, mirror the one we had, the Christmas tree on the roof of the car, the table he made them, that followed the blue print of the desk he made me…slowly slowly, I compared her abilty to love him back, as proof, that I could never love like that. And after a few weeks of this, I deleted him from Facebook, cause I couldn’t bear to see how inadequate I was anymore.
That’s how it felt then anyway. A direct and drastic contrast, at her ability to love him back, and really, in anyone’s ability to love anyone. I think that’s the infuriating thing about social media, it ‘seems’ like proof, everyone else figured it out, but you.
He married that girl, a few months ago.
I went into what-if land. But that what-if story told, in anyway, is not one worth telling.
But good god, if it doesn’t stop us from a total time travel, down a sliding-door vortex, and all the things we were not, to have that ending.
The good news is, since then, I have learned to love myself. Like for real.
I have learned, that I am indeed a comet. And that this, this is not wrong. This, is in my bones.
I have learned that I am not only able, but beautiful, in the art of loving someone back, and to mountain-top shout it, and to be all-in-tumble-down in love.
Since Gary, I have fallen in love, and I have had my heart broken, and I have broken hearts, and I have offered my heart, and I have offered my Sundays, and I have asked for help, and despite all this, people have walked out of my front door, in that same way I know, I wont see them again. Because this will be that story…until it’s not.
And it’s still worth telling, all these love stories, are still worth telling.
When the loneliness comes, it comes quickly.
And it comes with the sense of everything I should have done by now.
Everything I should be by now.
Have by now.
Know by now.
It comes as I stand with my hands by my sides, as I watch myself walk out the door,
You wont let me love you.
Those words still scare the shit out of me sometimes.
But unlike then, they’re just not true anymore.
As for these chapters, they come in direct comparison as I look at how others are written. They seem so happy.
And these same people. They look at mine.
This wild life, that’s taken me around the world, and to no one place for any measure of years in a row, always somewhere new. Always finding the view.
And they say. Oh that would make me so happy.
I do love my life, but when I am honest, I am so afraid of being alone for good. Because how much more beautiful could this life be…if me and you, came together in the end.
It’s been 3-years living in California now, and this is the best truth I’ve ever told.
I have healed here.
Again and again.
Last Saturday, I went on an amazing first date to the coast.
And in the space of 8-miles or so, and the pit-stop of a beer, or so, and the comfort of the way home, after we had been walking in the soft rain that would come and go, he pulled me in to kiss me.
He put his hand on my low back, and drew me in, which always always draws the breath right out of me: that pull towards, that pause.
I mean, if you want an epic first kiss, then you move to the west coast.
There’s no doubt in my mind I was meant to live here, with these views.
And in matters of the heart, I have simply never been tethered, but I know for sure now, the ocean is my anchor.
And he, he is tethered to this one particular spot on the map, for now and for a while, his ocean is a 4-year old, with a beautiful, mischevious smile, a knack for negotiating bed-times, bacon and eggs for dinner, and snuggles. And he loves her insistently, and clearly. And so do I continue to be pulled in by the man, with the kind eyes, knowing that I am not satisfied yet to know, this is where I’ll live.
I don’t think the art or the practice of loving is any less vulnerable, in any age group, but it feels like in my 30’s a pressure in a way, to make sure I mean it. There’s fear of lost time, etc. in all things…in love, in career, in all things….the way there wasn’t 7-8 years ago, when it still felt like I was right on time.
I know that next up the Pacific North West. I don’t know how, or when, but I know…the way I knew for years I’d move to California, with zero answers on how or when. And you may wonder, what I wonder…what then? And where to next. And I cant tell you the answer…and while I do hope for an address…I hope for many addresses…I love the view.
What I do actively want to do differently though, is not wait to fall in love, to give it my all in anything, to find any reason not to…excusing that all because I know, this isn’t it. Gary told me again and again he’d move to California for me if that’s what I wanted, but I didn’t want that…what would have changed it all is if he said and believed, I’ll move to California with you. For and with, so very different.
After all, I am a comet, I don’t know if it’ll ever be ‘it’ which would mean I would stay open enough, and pay attention enough and believe enough, that someone else wants this too.
And what I’m doing now, and will continue to do, so that the loneliness does not get me down for an unbearable amount of time, is call out these moments from the dark, the ones I know we all have, in our own versions of lonely, and not enough, to say.
I love you.