All that energy scibbered away.
It sprung me: toss it in or let it out?
Maybe I could have spent it better
making something to hold onto…a nice pot.
When I long to “run away”, it’s not just fear of that special vulnerability –trying to create art and knowing it just might be shit. No, it’s fear of loneliness, pointlessness, a life unwitnessed and unconnected.
Guitar man? There are lots of them. Subtext? “I never grew up? I have no money? I’m an independent spirit–code-name: groovy misogynist?” The guitar is at least a woman-shaped object in his arms.
In unconnected hours face-to-face, drenched in the ice-water of failed intimacy, I met loneliness–a very different thing from alone-ness. That loneliness withered my strong right-side under worm-eaten embraces, preoccupied hearts, and habitual sex.
Adults have different problems with multiplication. For example, divorce times backstabbing times sick child, times crazy boss, times stopped-up toilet equals chest-pounding tremors. Nobody prepares you for this kind of multiplication. When you lose the numbers you lose all kinds of certainty.
This was notable for being a large mixed age and gender Khmer crowd with just a very few foreigners and a very unselfconscious mingle. I was surprised to be dragged back out onto the dance area by mature women who probably have no English but enjoyed the sharing. Everyone laughed, danced, stole each other’s partners (always ambiguous in circle dancing) and smeared powder. No language necessary. We wanted to leave? “No, one more, one more.” These are the moments that vindicate solo traveling and are worth the risks of a little loneliness.
We never looked directly at the people who sat down next to us. I thought all these girls must have that same core of loneliness I did, buried under the layers of wool and nylon. I could see it in the smudges of black liner gathered in on that little bulge beneath the outer corner of each eye on the ride home.
That is certainly not something I expected when I wondered what the future would bring on the boat coming to New York. And it’s not what I imagined when Carole asked me if I wanted to move to Texas.
[T]he pavement ices with brittle opposites. I need structure; I admire spontaneity. I hate man-made boxes, yet I notice that I’m putting finishing touches on a few just now. Anything goes? Nothing endures. I’m no longer young enough to try everything, but I’m old enough to try anything.
And you, Mom? You knew that loneliness at such an early age. But you’ve never complained about it, not when Grandma was sick, not when you were nursing Dad, or after he died, or when your friends started to move away to go live with their children. Even now you won’t let the word take hold in the room.