Sunday, April 15, 2007

We Don't Wanna Be Alone

I am not the popular one. When I was a teenager, I was not the one the boys gathered around in a crowded room. I had a tendency to be on my own all the time, preferred the company of animals to people, preferred curling up with my favorite book to running around in the mud with the other kids. Now that I’m grown up, alone is what I am all the time still, even with other people. I have always been the one who doesn’t quite fit, who is the third person of a pair, the oldest one of a young crowd, the only girl in a room full of guys. I should be terrified of being alone; my divorced parents have shown me how lonely it can get, especially after a certain age—but I am alone so much even when I am with other people that it’s nothing I can’t handle. In fact, I am quite accustomed to it. I have always preferred the company of music, books or movies to people. After all, in the world of literature, Jane Eyre will always have Mr. Rochester in the end, Elizabeth Bennet her Mr. Darcy. “Baba O’Riley” will always end on a note of triumph, Louis and Rick will always walk off into the Casablanca dawn arm in arm. Music, books, films, those things don’t let you down because they are works of art; etched in history, they are unalterable. It’s people who let you down; they have their own agendas, their own interests to look after, and when something bad happens, they will always look after themselves first. Nothing to be done; it’s human nature. So we are born alone and we die alone regardless of what everyone tells us, and we’d better get used to it. But there’s nothing horrible about being alone if you are happy with who you are; it’s only society that tells you have to be with someone all the time for the rest of your life to be happy.

Despite blissful solitude, however, despite the writings of Thoreau, there are yet still times when you want to hold someone, to have them look into your eyes with complete love and understanding, to reach out in the dark and feel them breathing softly next to you. But such companionship is elusive, and searching too desperately for it, you may grasp it only to have it slip through your fingers. So live your life, do what makes you happy, and when you find a person who can stand to be with you for more than a few minutes, who actually pays attention to you, listens with both ears and whole heart, looks at you when you talk and really sees you, grab on for dear life. Because it is all fleeting, and we are always alone in the end.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

-William Shakespeare, sonnet 116

I thought that love would last forever. I was wrong.
--W. H. Auden

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