I was really frustrated by Becca Wilhite's essay "One Thing I Do Well" because it seemed to be so honest and raw, but then she just accepted guilt as reality, passed it on to her children. That's that guys, this is how it feels and now everyone can have some! Oh gee, thanks . . . is how I felt. So I decided to try and imitate her format, but I was going to try and tweek the outcome to not only reflect who I am, but to show something greater than lackadaisical acceptance.
It fills every silent corner and rolls across each room like the booming ticks of a small mantle clock. Frightening, pervasive, indelible, and ever-stalking the peace of solitude. How is it possible that nobody else notices it? It must be just me. If I'd taken more time when I had time, I wouldn't feel it either.
It highlights the pictures of family members I haven't seen in months. I feeds off of white noise making me state more obvious. It dredges up memories that I wish weren't so distant. It paints brilliant hypotheticals that I can only imagine I'm missing.
It's loneliness, and I am really good at it.
Where does it come from? I'll tell you where it comes from. Everywhere. From the fact that I just got off a phone call with words that couldn't be spoken in person. From empty evenings pregnant with homework instead of siblings orchestra concerts, soccer games, first words, and story time—I tell myself that it's okay, I'll make up lost time, I'll won't be so busy and isolated for much longer. It comes from having responsibilities that I can't ignore till I'm abandoned by any company because I first abandoned them. It comes from sitting silently wishing someone would knock on the door, going to sleep along, waking alone, walking alone, thinking alone.
It comes when I realize that my siblings are growing up and I'm not there. When "Hey it's Natalie!" becomes a frequent reference to a calling device instead of my face. When me coming home is an occasion and not the everyday. It comes when I remember that my five-year-old brother cried in a corner outside the temple because he though my wedding meant he'd never see me again. I held him and whispered promises; I prayed because I felt the gaps of time chasing me down. It comes when another brother tries not to cry when I leave, or a sister clutching me saying, "call me, we'll figure out what to talk about." When I say I'll teach her to crochet someday, or I'll read him Harry Potter, that I'll teach her French, we'll analyze Lord of the Rings, talk about boys, play frisbee, go on walks, go shopping, go to a movie, go on a double date, practice yoga, learn to draw, stargaze from the roof, roast s'mores, or sit and do nothing.
Oh wait, I don't have time to do nothing, no matter how important, I'm too busy being laboriously lonely.
Sometimes I am a well of loneliness. I can dig into my soul like deep earth and etch out the regrets of all that I'm missing. But, though I'm good at loneliness, the impression in my being, while a void to me, houses love for others. I fill up my cavity with water to share. Each voice mail, each letter, each picture might fill me with loneliness but I drink it as love. Some younger siblings may tell you that they were always alone or that their older siblings didn't care. Not my siblings. Phone calls and letters. Skype and short visits. And how do you think I feel about that?
Give you one guess.