This is about loneliness. Not the noun, but the feeling. That kind of captive nothing you find in every corner of the soul.
For instance: there’s a man at the dollar store over in a relatively shitty part of town. It’s five minutes to closing time. He’s been there for a few hours, and he’s damned if they’ll throw him out even one second before the clock runs out. He’s been entertaining the checker with tales about the crazies in his life, absurd plots lifted wholesale from a sitcom that he watches at three a.m. every night. The checkout girls nods politely instead of shooting him dirty looks, because he reminds her vaguely of a demented uncle and she knows he means no harm. She feels no disgust for him, only a generalized pity that will wear thin eventually and then he will move on to another checker. He’s been doing this for years.
Or across town. There’s a girl waiting for a ride. She thinks she’s a polyamorist. Last year she thought she was a pagan. In a year or two she will consider the mantle of druggie, before settling for the slightly more wholesome occupation of fag hag. She is continually waiting for rides, to places, people, events she has only heard about but never experienced firsthand. Her few friends are annual, and turnover rate is high. She is struggling with the concept that no matter how many people she surrounds herself with, no matter how close she pulls someone, there will still be a sliver of space just there. For now, she waits for the ride.
Late into the night, in a mortuary of no particular high standing, a man is spending the wee hours of his shift down in the basement doing…something. I won’t say exactly what, but I pray that you never get quite that lonely, my friend.
Ahhh, but worse than him is the store clerk at the local warehouse store. She’s the one who sits in the middle of the empty floor, proffering samples with a smile on her face. She is somewhere else. She’s thinking of her children. She loves them, and that gets her through the day. However, the feeling is not mutual. She has alternately smothered and ignored them, preventing them from dealing with any consequences of their behavior since her husband left some fifteen years ago. They are now mildly frustrated, out-of-place adults who feel disgruntled at a lack of something in their lives, but can’t put a name to it. They make up for it by withdrawing from their mother’s sargassum embrace. She works the night shift with a dreamy smile on her face while her youngest, the only child still at home, contemplates moving in with a friend of a friend of an acquaintance, who is a complete meth head but has an apartment across town from his mother’s house. His mother is blissfully unaware of this, which makes her the loneliest of all. She’ll never know just how bad it is. Pity her.
And then there’s the worst case. You have it in your hands. I wrote it for you. Not you, personally- I don’t even know you, who you are, what you look like, any of that. I wrote this for anyone to pick up, on the slim margin of chance it gets printed in some publication, a book or a pamphlet or a zine, that you might pick up and carry around with you and then by chance I might walk by and see that you’re reading it and know that you may be, just maybe, reading this.
I might be looking over your shoulder right now, in fact. And I’m not looking for anyone in particular, I’m just looking for anyone who will stop long enough that I might get a good look at what page you’re on, and maybe get a warm feeling down in my stomach and maybe not. And I know that, even if you turn around right now, I won’t be there, I’ll probably never even see your face, you won’t tell me if you loved or hated it, any of that. But just the off-chance that you might helped me get through this.