Mr. Lonely

4/21/18 9:08PM

who are you, really

i searched, traced                                                                 the lines of your face                                                         those tired green eyes                                                         only revealing what                                                                 i already know

darling, you are the                                                           loneliest person                                                                       i have ever met   

— RC

A Recorded Conversation

Me: "Here's my problem: I find it difficult to be in a relationship. And I worry. I do."

LC: "You told me before that you can't see yourself in a long-term relationship right now."

"Yes, I did say that. My parents have been married for twenty-six years. Sometimes, during dinner, I find myself staring at them, listening to their conversation, and watching how in sync they are."

"How does that make you feel?"

"Nothing. It makes me feel absolutely nothing. Though it makes me wonder about my future—alone or with somebody. And all of a sudden, I get seasick with rage and frustration."

 "You do feel something."

"Yes, but not towards my parents. I just want to say that I do respect and honor their marriage."

"Towards what then?"

"One of my favorite artists, Marlene Dumas, once said, "At the moment, my art is situated between the pornographic tendency to reveal everything and the erotic inclination to hide what it's all about." That's precisely how I feel."

"..."

"You know about my passed rendezvous." 

"Rendezvous. Interesting choice of word." 

"Well, what do you suggest I call them? They certainly were not relationships."

"Go on."

"When I'm with somebody, I have this notion of wanting to tell him about myself, my life, my secrets, and the unutterable things I've done—it's that pornographic tendency to reveal everything. Then, when I find myself in that situation, I immediately take fifty steps back and build an imaginary wall—it's that erotic inclination to hide what it's all about...what I'm all about."

"Normally when people do that it's because there's something they don't want to let go of. It is not tangible, it's more of an emotion. What happened to these rendezvous or, rather, the guys?"

"They went on with their lives, much like I did. There was no closure and that's what I loved about it. " 

"Your choice or theirs?" 

"I'm not quite sure how to answer that." 

"That's fine." 

 "What is it about not having closure that you love?"

"For me to need and want closure, IT would have to mean something." 

 "Don't you find that ironic? For it to mean something it would have to be more than a quote, unquote rendezvous."

"I disagree. Have you read my piece Three Days?"

"The one about the French-Filipino guy you met on an island in the Philippines?"

"Yes. Three days. Seventy-two hours. And I wrote bout him and our time together, which simply means IT meant something. Do you see my point?"

"It's not about how long you're with somebody. It's about the moments." 

"Exactly."

"Do you ever get lonely?" 

"I wouldn't say lonely. You know, that makes me realize how fortunate I am to be fully acquainted with solitude."

"Solitude. Let's talk about that. Do you think you've let solitude consume you?"

"I don't know. Is that possible?"

"An emotion has that power. Sure." 

"Ah, but solitude is not an emotion, right? It's not like being happy or terrified or angry. It's not something we can make up nor switch on and off."

"What is solitude to you?"

"An invisible companion. It goes where I go. It wanders beside me no matter who I'm with." 

"I read one of your pieces about solitude. It was thought-provoking."

"Thank you. I've thought about this: to be single in a generation where everyone wants to be conjoined, you sort of become like a rare vintage Tiffany lamp preserved within its glass vitrine. Have you seen one of those at the New-York Historical Society?"

"Yes, I have." 

"They're exquisite, aren't they?" 

"They are. Could it be that the thought of being in a relationship terrifies you because you're fearful of abandoning your invisible companion?"

"I've never thought of it that way." 

"Think about that and we'll discuss it when we meet again next week." 

"I will. You go ahead; I'll finish my tea."

Here and There

I went to the Philippines—where I was born and spent seven years of my childhood. I abandoned my life in New York. It was like leaving a lover behind and not knowing whether we’d meet again. Torn between two places. Philippines. You’re my escape. My safe zone—one I know I'd always come back to. You'd welcome me with a suffocating embrace. New York. You challenge me. You frighten me. You excite me. You’re home. Who would I be if I lived elsewhere? No matter where I am, nostalgia consumes me because of you two. To fall asleep above Central Park, enamored by the twinkling lights. To wake up on the white sand, beneath the coconut palm trees. If only I could be here and there simultaneously. Imagine that magic, that catastrophe. What is it about the unattainable that I (or, I suppose, we) find immensely alluring? In places and people. Especially people. I longed for one in New York, but what a traveler he was—chasing after every tender peaks he sees. F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." My day-to-day since I arrived back in New York. But, oh! I'm desperate for newness: touch, taste, hear, see and feel. And soon I'll be acquainted with another. London. What will you be to me?

Note: The Fitzgerald line is from The Great Gatsby. It has become one of the most haunting closing lines in literature. That said, check out some of the best classic literature lines below.

"History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake." — Ulysses, James Joyce. 1992.

"It is a great misfortune to be alone, my friends; and it must be believed that solitude can quickly destroy reason." — The Mysterious Island, Joyce Verne. 1874.

"And meanwhile time goes about its immemorial work of making everyone look and feel like shit." — London Fields, Martin Amis. 1989.

"She stared at her reflection in the glossed shop windows as if to make sure, moment by moment, that she continued to exist." — The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath. 1963. 

"Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change." — Frankenstein, Mary Shelley. 1818.

"Clocks slay time... time is dead as long as it is being clicked off by little wheels; only when the clock stops does time come to life." — The Sound And The Fury, William Faulkner. 1929.