You're wondering if I'm lonely

We’re all lonely for something we don’t know we’re lonely for. How else to explain the curious feeling that goes around feeling like missing somebody we’ve never even met?" 

             David Foster Wallace

I've spent my life swinging between alone and lonely.

Alone, as in solitude, as in quietude. Alone is where my real life happens.

Lonely is sad, wanting, an aching yearn, an enforced aloneness. Lonely hurts.

And yet lonely carries a certain sort of necessity. To truly feel fullness, you must know emptiness.


You're wondering if I'm lonely:
OK then, yes, I'm lonely
as a plane rides lonely and level
on its radio beam, aiming
across the Rockies
for the blue-strung aisles
of an airfield on the ocean.

You want to ask, am I lonely?
Well, of course, lonely
as a woman driving across country
day after day, leaving behind
mile after mile
little towns she might have stopped
and lived and died in, lonely

If I'm lonely
it must be the loneliness
of waking first, of breathing
dawns' first cold breath on the city
of being the one awake
in a house wrapped in sleep

If I'm lonely
it's with the rowboat ice-fast on the shore
in the last red light of the year
that knows what it is, that knows it's neither
ice nor mud nor winter light
but wood, with a gift for burning

— Adrienne Rich

I'm trying not to wear my loneliness, and yet it fits. It's become convincing and comfortable. Initially, the fit is snug, but with time there is loosening, acceptance. It's not flattering, but loneliness makes the body invisible, the mind numb. I turn inside myself.

I'm trying to believe that loneliness is not a character defect, not a resignation, but I'm wondering, now, if it is a default setting and I haven't the energy, or trust, to turn the channel. Decades since it's aired, and I'm still watching reruns of M.A.S.H. I'm mixing my metaphors. Loneliness makes you blurry. You lose definition. You mistake edge for action, feeling for thought. Loneliness is so far from alone that though you're lost, you no longer ask for directions home.

It’s not that 

I’m lonely but that
I went to bed too
late and alone
and miss the promise
of you.

It’s not that I’m sleepy
but in the morning
I wake slow and
wide, do not stir,
do not want
this quiet time
in solitude.

It’s not that I
don’t like solitude
but that my
mind travels
and confuses
not here with
gone, slow with
sad, alone with

It’s not that I
am alone but
that my body
is a planet
in the
its star.

— Drew Myron

Are you still with me?

Loneliness is both penetrating and true, mean and cruel. Who are you now? and now? and now? When loneliness pushes for answers, you want aloneness to rise, to take charge, answering: I am here. Full, feeling, alive.