I have spent my entire life lonely, alone.
The most familiar feeling to me is that of silence and time slowly ticking away, as the sun rises to the centre of the sky, reaches it peak and then slowly drops to the opposite horizon into darkness. The afternoons and early evenings are the hardest times to be alone. The light fading into darkness somehow magnifies the fact you are alone, without company or distraction from your metal thoughts.
I sit and stare at the four walls, pondering what makes me so lonely, so alone in the world where there is an over abundance of people and of things to do. Why do I seek time alone, yet when I find myself with only myself and cats as company, I spend the time wondering why no-one is with me, why I do not actively seek others.
To be alone is to be aware of ones environment and self-reliance of entertaining ones self.
I do not turn the television on, nor do I have the radio on in the background. I find these too distracting and calamitous. I prefer to read in silence, to ponder the world and hear it from the safety of my cosy living room, hear the cars going by, speeding up, and slowing down. Listen to the neighbours opening the doors to their apartments, talking, interacting with each other, sometimes slamming doors three, four, five times and I wonder – what could possibly be creating the need to slam doors in such a fashion?
Yet I feel no need to investigate, or to involve myself in others activities. I am content, for the most part, to wake up in the morning with a plan for the day. Take today for instance.
I woke up gradually, feeling Shadow asleep at my shoulder, body curved against my arm and head resting on my shoulder, his lithe body under the warm doona and head poked out for air. Cat imitating owner. Once I stir, he stretches his long paw out luxuriously, stretching, and opens his eyes, looking into mine as if to say “Good Morning. Time to get up?”. He then stands up, screeches his Siamese greeting at the same time as yawning and stretching, hops of the bed and goes searching for his sister.
I on the other hand lay there for a while, contemplating my dreams, my plans for the day and luxuriating in the knowledge that the day is mine, no one else’s and I can do whatever I please. I take the time to marvel at the fact that I am awake on a Sunday morning without the too familiar stench of alcohol on my breath, stomach rumbling from too much drinking of the night before and that horrible, dreading feeling of what did I do the night before in my drunken state. I am proud that I am able to now wake up on the weekends without a hangover, and can fully appreciate the weekends as a healthy and happy person. Oh how many years I have wasted drinking and partying during the night, revelling and living for the moment, ignoring the fact that I would have to pay for it tomorrow! The waste and the youthful attitude of cashing in now, pay later – I much prefer my new self, the appreciation of healthy body and mind and the ability to get out of bed on the weekends! Anyway, enough of this now – I will cover that another time!
So. As I stretch, I start to plan my day and allow myself to feel excitement and contentment at my simple plans and relaxing, fulfilling day.
I get up, and immediately get dressed. No shower today!!! On no!! Its Sunday!!! Put a comb in my newly dyed brown hair, happy with the change, my hair feeling healthier and natural, as opposed to completely blonde with brown roots.
No make up either. I don’t even bother to – gasp – wash my face or brush my teeth. Its Sunday. Its my day! I don’t have to please anyone or go to great lengths, I can accept myself as I am. Bliss. I choose a pair of jeans and a warm black velvet tracksuit top with runners, at least ensuring I don’t look too sloppy although my new flannelette pj’s are calling out to me… no, I will get dressed – coz, I HAVE THINGS TO DO!
Lets ignore the small voice in the back of my mind reminding me that R and D might come home, and do I really want their first impression of me as brunette to be of me without makeup and it slightly greasy? I courageously swipe it aside and confidently set the mantra of “I do not need makeup. I am pretty.” Lets also ignore the fact that I even think that I need to wear makeup to make a statement or that I feel the need to prove my attractiveness to others … again that is for another essay.
So. Supermarket time. I write a list of the things I need to buy as I believe the article that says its best to a) not shop when you are hungry, and b) always make a list to avoid impulse buys or over buying. I am trying to save money, or positively speaking; wanting to spend wisely and frugally, thus the list. I gather my purse, keys and mobile and, list in hand, I leave for the supermarket. I do not feel the need to turn the radio on in the car. This is my day and I do not need distractions or noise in the background, I value silence and the ability to hear my own thoughts.
The supermarket trip is relatively uneventful, I could go into the car washing incident, but I will not bore with the details, nor do I feel like mentioning my, perhaps, less than friendly attitude and refusal to stay at the carwash due to a trivial misunderstanding or direction, correction from the other person involved in this.
This essay is about loneliness, and being alone. Not about my pettiness and perhaps inability to suffer fools…. Or, perhaps dear reader or editor, perhaps this incident could be revealing of the reason why I enjoy the odd day to myself – the ability to be as churlish as possible? Hmmm … interesting. Just not for now!
Back home I go, humming. I unpack the shopping and start organising my paperwork. It is days like today, when I have the house to myself for hours on end, that I feel the compulsion to have everything in its place, neat, tidy and relatively clean. Thus, I spend a good hour, tidying things away, cleaning up my makeup drawers, putting nail stuff into a special basket, hair stuff into another basket, paperwork into the filing folder I bought this morning. As I do this I am aware that it could seem obsessive-compulsive. I know that I cannot sit still, reading or eating the toasted sandwich I have made, if things are untidy or not in its place, thus I tidy up and organise chaos.
The kitchen, bathroom and study relatively organised and my things placed where I will easily find them, I settle down to read “Writing Life Stories” by Bill Roorbach. It does not escape me, the irony of reading how to write, during the time that I want to, ideally, spend writing. However I am also aware that I do not know where to start, how to start, I only know that I want to finish a manuscript, book, memoir or something and get it published.
When it comes to writing, my mind is teeming with ideas for articles, books and stories I want to tell, however I find myself overwhelmed and unsure where to start. So I start something, but don’t finish it, thus I turn to Bill for advice.
Bill suggests free writing (forgive me Bill, I am taking liberty on your words as I do not want to stop to check the exact term for what I am doing). So I am free writing using the title he suggested halfway through his book … use the term “On …” something. Again, I digress, (Bill I am sorry, I did not do the exercises as you requested, I have jumped in at the middle and to do something that appealed to me.)
And. I find something interesting. I intended to write something on the loneliness I started feeling before I sat down to write, and, lo and behold, the subject has changed into a description of my day, not on the loneliness I felt as the darkness of the evening descended. Perhaps it is not loneliness that I so often feel, but a realisation that I am not being creative or releasing the thoughts within, allowing the writer within to appear.
Is this the answer to how to cope with the hours of solitude that I have been searching for years? Writing will fulfil me, as no bottle of red wine in the afternoon will do? Has the answer been so obvious, did I drink myself into oblivion for no good reason when the answer was to sit and write? Well yes, there is never a good reason to drink yourself into oblivion on any occasion – particularly on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon when you are on your own. That reeks of….. Alcoholism!
Oh my. The answer has been there all along. Do not drink. Write. Connect with your inner thoughts, put pen to paper or fingers to keys, and let your imagination run wild and free. Write with abandon and without editing or census, do not worry about the outcome or being published. Get the words on paper, then edit if you wish.