I write about my life and life itself seen through my eyes for who can write through the experiences of others if not their own?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Lost In A Crowd

It was many years ago. Our kids were still very little when we went to a family restaurant for Valentine’s Day. Behind us sat a woman, alone. I could hear the waiter ask if she was going to be joined. “No, just one person”. She ordered a fancy drink, too fancy for a family restaurant. When we were almost done or when I toddlers decided we were done, my husband said hello to her. The man can remember everyone he has ever seen! She was a former client.

When we got up to leave the table she looked at us with a shy smile, almost embarrassed to be seen alone on this date. I remember feeling bad we had not seen her earlier. She probably could have used company.

Many of us could.

There are days I was raised to treasure as days that should always be spent with someone and spending them alone means that…you are alone. Ironically, Valentine’s is not one of them.

Most of us enjoy being alone. It can be pleasurable and a refreshing space with ourselves. It is a choice or a circumstantial state that often is enjoyable and temporary and also beneficial to give ourselves time to be alone and enjoy the intimacy of spending time with ourselves. But feeling lonely is feeling disconnected from everyone, empty, apart.

I don’t enjoy loneliness; I don’t know any who does.
I have had days when I feel I am the only person alone in the whole world even if surrounded by a crowd. I have had those days and Holidays when I look at the phone or outside my window wanting someone to be with me on that day. Days when the news, the stores, the restaurants, the friends and their plans are all a plethora of reminders that there is no one who will spend that day with us. No one we’d want.

How can we help it, how can we cure it, how do we come out of it when being surrounded by a crowd only exacerbates the feeling? Coming to grips with our longing, working on our self esteem, those are nice theories and tools that help but while the loneliness is felt, it is a deserted island in our soul, a latent burning laceration deep within us.

I hope that woman in the restaurant on that Valentine’s Day was alone, not lonely. I hope that Holidays don’t remind us that even when surrounded by a multitude we stand alone and lonely.

“We’re all lonely for something we don’t know we are lonely for” – David Foster Wallace