Disclaimer: S-word‘s about to get real personal and confessional, folks. Turn back now, while you still can.
(“S-word” is my favorite way to swear at work. Office culture is totally kosher with saying things like “s-word”, even the occasional, well-placed actual s-word is tolerated.)
My high school english teacher gave us this exercise for writing poetry (It’s a tool that i’ve used to get unstuck with writers block, too.) where you take an inanimate thing like an emotion and then flesh it out through the five senses. Goes a little something like this:
For loneliness, say:
sounds like…a song you can’t quite remember.
looks like…the sock that’s left behind after laundry day.
smells like…someone you used to know, in a magazine cologne sample.
feels like…listening to jeff buckley on your car stereo while you drive in the rain. empirically.
tastes like…(for the life of me, I can’t think what loneliness tastes like. Maybe that’s ’cause food is my friend, so I can’t feel lonely while I eat. ha.)
So you can guess what’s on my mind tonight, readers.
I had the idea over the weekend that one huge perk of marriage must be that there’s always somebody there to listen to your stories and care about your shit. (s-word.)
(A perk of being single, no doubt, is having good stories to tell…)
Brace yourselves. I’m going to say the thing that I’m not supposed to say; that our mothers fought so hard in the 70s so we wouldn’t say it, etc.: sometimes it’s really hard work to be alone.
Some nights it just sucks, y’all. You sit in your house and cry while you watch The Daily Show and your cat looks on, concerned. Hypothetically.
And some nights it’s not so bad, true. If I weren’t single I wouldn’t have finished The Handmaid’s Tale in 4 days. (You guys! I finished The Handmaid’s Tale in 4 days!) And I wouldn’t have all this free time to train for my race and write and do all the other good stuff with my time (e.g. watch hulu).
I really, really liked Handmaid’s Tale. (Book Club discush coming Dec 2.) I read this little bit on Saturday morning at Einstein’s Bagels:
You don’t tell a story only to yourself. There’s always someone else.
Even if there’s no one.
My mind perked up a bit, bc I’d just had that thought about marriage and stories on my way in. (I like little moments when life connects like that. It’s what we writers live for, sort of.)
And then five minutes later, kid you not, in walked some ex-couple-friends with their adorable kids. (You know, we hung out when I was in a couple. They were his friends. Now we aren’t a couple. So we’re ex-couple-friends.) And I honest to god wanted to hide. I plotted escape. Is there anything more lonely than seeing ex-couple-friends when you’re out alone?
Out alone on a Saturday morning, reading a book?
I don’t think it gets more tragic.
But I was nice and said hi. We chatted.
Then I went back to my book. And they went back to their kids.
And I felt grateful, sort of, that at least I didn’t have to tell anyone to sit on their bottom, please.
And no one was telling me where to sit and when. So there’s another perk.
Welp. Sorry you had to be the victims of my loneliness, readers. At least maybe I’ll keep writing more. Writing is good company.
(This post brought to you by Edy’s Slow Churned Mint Chocolate Chip and too many repeat viewings of You’ve Got Mail.)