the incurable loneliness when not alone our human ailment
“If I were a fish,” she said, “I think I’d still have feelings.”
“Why the fuck would you even want to be a fish?” He laughed, taking quick bites of his burger.
“Why not? Spending the day swimming around, it’d be like permanent scuba diving.” She pushed her plate aside and sat back, sipping from the iced tea in her hand. The day was bright, with a slight breeze keeping them cool as they sat out in the patio of the restaurant.
“You’d be a fucking fish. Why not a shark, or a whale? You’d just get eaten. Who cares if you have feelings.”
He rolled his eyes and picked up his phone, his focus on the screen between bites. She watched him quietly for a few moments until she finally shrugged.
“Yeah, I guess so. You’re not a seashell, anyway.”
With a sideways kiss and everything’s different. I can’t tell if that’s somehow left me still sideways. Maybe upside down. We stood in silence at the setting sun even though there seemed to be no reds or oranges despite, only pinks and blues. The sounds of nature fluttered like wet eyelashes, blinking. I may have swallowed a bug. But mostly he feels perfect against me, even if it’s just a casual brushing of legs, arms, hands, hearts.
I couldn’t sleep for what felt like forever, resting my head against him for a time, sometimes just my fingers slightly touching— just barely. I imagined all the things I could say but I left them to silence except his breath heavy in sleep. Kissed his cheek and held it there, my lips frozen against skin.
“Let’s have breakfast,” I wanted to say. It repeated in my head for what felt an eternity that morning of in and out that it never found it’s escape from my thoughts. Instead I drove away and the thoughts still stayed so muddled I couldn’t even sing along to a song.
I still feel that fluttering, blinking, trying to quell it to something resembling normalcy. I’m not what I once was, still the same. Maybe.
talk to me
answer the questions
that I’ve asked
call to me
take me into
your loving grasp
cry with me
help me take
the pain away
sing to me
tell me everything
will be okay
I wrote this 20 years ago when I was 20 years old.
There’s something about the moments in life when you’re sharing something important to you, maybe something difficult to speak about, that you might even try to nonchalantly mention in a half hearted or offhanded way. Like when you want to show someone your writing or your art or or music or just something very personal and important to the very core of you and you almost stop breathing for a moment, even though you tell yourself that what they think is unimportant and that what you do and think is for you, your soul, blah blah blah… but in that baited breath and sometimes they’ll look you right in the eye, and sometimes there will be a wonder there, or it will excite them and you’ll inspire each other, or sometimes it’s nothing more than an understanding and an almost kinship that they totally get. And it’s beautiful and magical and that moment wraps you up in that warmth of connection.
And then there are moments when instead you’re met with silence or an offhanded remark, maybe even eyes that are intent on something else completely, and it takes the breath out of you and you feel unseen, invisible, a half dead leaf blowing along the sidewalk, lost to the wind.
How is it that I allowed myself to be lost to the wind for over two years?
thoughts whispers touch. and scent, even still. a glass of wine to remind me a little, as we were. sitting quietly conversation shy glances. and smiles. it feels almost forever, but not. and the gorgeous sky reminds me, so blue and crisp. it’s as if we owned the stars even, as if we owned the trees and the wind and the rustling whirling close. dreams and truths. as if they existed for us alone, tempting wishing for us to steal away.
to steal away, yes. for a little while.
petals wither away,
sweet fragrance drifts past,
blown away, the chilling breeze,
of pale, brittle pink.
touches my cheek at last,
a wave goodbye.
It’s as if I’m standing on the top of a high mountain, looking down at the gorgeous view that stretches out in all directions around me, inhaling the chill air, and I’ve suddenly realized I’m terrified of heights.
Sometimes I leave pages in notebooks blank. One, two, three or eight. I think they must need to be that way. To not have words written on them. As if it were somehow just the way it should be.
And then, sometimes, in need of scratch paper to write down the date and time of a hair appointment, or to scribble a phone number, or maybe a grocery shopping list; I find these pages, tear them out.
I wonder, though, what happens to those empty spaces in the notebook that were meant to be there. Those pauses, those separations. I wonder if the words that were once apart by a single blank page then meet. If they say hello.
The annoying beep… beep of her phone alarm seeps into her dreams. Even there she curses it, resisting the awakening of her body in the form of grunts and groans. 8am. Earlier than she would ever choose to wake up.
Groggily down the stairs, the kids are up and quietly watching iCarly on TV. Her ever blinking eyes search the counter and then into the shelves of the fridge– but nope, no iced latte. The magical latte fairy has yet returned with her medicine. Though she knows it’d be best for everyone if she simply crawled back up the stairs and in to bed, instead:
“Good morning, sweethearts. Sleep well?”
Mmmhmms and yesses and total silence are the response, but she pushes the disappointment aside and begins working on brushing hair through squirts of hair detangler and mumbles of hold-stills. Satisfied that the kids look vaguely well taken care of, she sends the middle child off to find a matching skirt, ignoring her protests that flowers and polka dots match just fine.
The latte fairy emerges from the garage in slacks and buttoned up shirt, and she vaguely notices he even trimmed his beard today, latte in his hand. Her eyes focus on the drizzles of caramel visible alongside the inside of the plastic transparent cup as he kisses her forehead and heads off to work, his purpose now done.
Signing homework papers and double checking the calendar on the fridge, she reminds the kids to get their jackets on– again– and sends them off with kisses and waves. After watching them disappear around a sidewalk corner, she closes the heavy front door deliberately.
Considering her options, with a return to the comforts of her bed high on the priority list, she instead slides the kitchen drawer open to a box tucked away and pulls out a cigarette and lighter. Latte in hand she makes her way to the backyard and, through exhales of smoke wonders– not for the first time– why a patch of grass has turned brown among the greens.
Stubbing the cigarette out on the concrete, she heads back inside and up the stairs into her bathroom. After a few splashes of cold water on her face, she pauses at her reflection in the mirror, noticing again the additional lines between her brows that didn’t used to be there, and the red splotches that have lately been marring her face.
Slipping on a pair of yoga pants and tank top, she makes her way out to the garage and into her red minivan. She leaves the track homes and women jogging with their dogs behind, settling on a narrow road.
Her car skids slightly as she brakes and puts it into park. Stepping out into the sunshine, a coolness still in the air, she takes a deep breath. The air tastes of fresh salt water, mingled with the latte still on her breath, as she looks over the ocean below. From up here the barking of dogs, the sounds of children shouting and laughing at a nearby school, of garbage trucks making the rounds– it all disappears, left only with the breaking of waves on the rocks below.
She climbs down the sides of the cliffs a few feet to a narrow ridge. Picking up a rock she holds it in her hand for a moment before letting it simply go, watching it disappear into the rocks and surf below. She closes her eyes and takes a step.
Her eyes fly open by the startling sound of her cell phone ringing in her back pocket. She steps back, pulls it out and looks at the screen. The elementary school phone number is displayed. After a moment, she answers.
“Hi, Mrs. Victor, this is Katie from the front office. Claire just puked here at school during recess. Can you come and get her?”
“Of course. I’ll be right there.”