If you’re going to be lonely it’s best to do it in a city where you know no one. To be lonely in a city where you know many, and many know you, is the worst kind of loneliness. There is no excuse for it. It is more pathetic than regular loneliness, the right kind.
She had no shortage of ways to spend the day. Inevitably, though, the end of each day would bring her face to face with her basic solitude. Heading home, she fought the urge to stop in her tracks and sit on the nearest available surface – park bench, subway waiting seat, anything – and just not move. Simply to stop moving became the most desirable thing. Not only to stop moving herself, but to stop the forward movement of the days and years of her life that continued in spite of her.
But she continues to put one foot in front of the other, and reaches home’s emptiness. She repeats the motions of the night before, getting ready for bed. Some days it takes longer, some days it doesn’t. It might be a particularly busy night, or it might be mundane. Whatever the case, she can’t help feeling herself harden to life as she pulls the covers over her and turns off the light. Or, as she forces herself to read until she can no longer make sense of the words and must turn off the light. There is no escaping that pitch of doom that sounds in the center of her torso every night that she gets herself into position for the oblivion of sleep.
It was mentioned that her loneliness had a pathetic quality to it because she lived in a city where she knew many, and many knew her. Through her disability to carry interpersonal relationships beyond a certain point of depth, however, all her connections rang hollow. She found ways of terminating without notice those who lasted the longest. Still, by the grace of God, she had a few, less than a handful, connections who still hung tight. It was hard on them, she could tell, but somehow they loved her. Them too, she managed to push away even as she let them get closer than she knew herself capable. Even them, she had to stop herself from cutting off completely, for the stupidest reasons.
Everyone came home to someone, that was the thing. Forget those long forgotten acquaintances. Of those that remained, of those whom she still cared to stay connected to, every one of them came home to someone. A loved one, a family member. Someone they fought and loved against in equal measure. The point is, they didn’t come home to the luxurious emptiness that was her home. Someone else shared the space. Someone else’s things were about. Traces of another soul hovered even when its owner was not in. Another life breathed. It was a busy place with an air continually disturbed.
The stillness of the air in her home was sometimes stifling. It did not move, unless the window was open, or the air conditioning was turned on by her. Having known the feeling of sharing the space with someone, a temporary loved one, made its current stillness and quietude even more unbearable.
Everyone feels lonely sometimes, of course. But it is hard being the only one in a circle of friends whose loneliness comes from coming home to no one, after a day spent outside in a city that gave the feeling of community. Only a community of ghosts.
For this reason, she decided to leave. Leave to a city where her loneliness inside could perfectly match her loneliness outside. A city where she knew no one, and no one knew her, and maybe where she and others could come to know the meaning of herself. She decided to face loneliness, experience it, in the purest possible form that she could imagine.
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