Tonight is the 8th anniversary of my marriage, but I am alone. This is not news to some, maybe to others, and maybe it's irrelevant to many. but to me it seems significant.
Thinking back on our time together, eleven years, it seems that the turning point came early on: a Fourth of July, very soon after our first year together, after declarations of love - which I personally do not give easily, had been made.
I was moving into my first home, a newly independent mother and college graduate. I was a bilingual education teacher enamored with the new cultures where I found myself daily and with this new relationship, one that actually felt real and adult, capable of blossoming along with me.
Simultaneously, he was divorced, moving out of his childhood home which he had purchased and struggling to survive as a single man, a part-time dad. I can understand this now, but certainly not then, and while I'm sure his perspective is different, he had not tread these waters before either.
I often wonder if examining these early years will reveal the answers of what was to come, an overshadowing of my own history? Maybe this is simply hindsight, or, what I often succumb to when writing: literary appeal? But surely there were lines being drawn at this time: powershifts and independence, loneliness, selfishness and fear ribboning around each of us, pulling us tight where we could not breathe, where we'd trip and bleed because we tied the ribbons together too tightly. There was blame and anger and pulling and stretching those ribbons into the skin like wires until flow was cut off to other parts. Yet when one bled, the other held the cool cloth, despite our own ribboned appendages, ribcages, teeth, and hearts. It became a weary kind of dance we did, to untangle the ribbons, each independently without twists or chinks, retying some tighter, letting some flow loose, but never ever letting go of the end of our strand.
So we worked through that next year with ribbons and scissors, trying to cut out and create a fit for us and for a while the future looked good, that maybe we 'd tied our hearts together just right, pehaps even with ribbon to spare; just enough silken spiral with which to spin ourselves a little bit free, just enough to lash the ribbon too tightly together heart-to-heart, breast-to-mouth, just enough to hang ourselves.
We tied and untied those ribbons for years, not paying attention when the ends began to unravel, and maybe we even stopped caring about our own ends of ribbon,at least i did mine, breaking the ties in anger and frustration only to lash the ends back together over and over. Can you imagine the mess? Not to mention tied up in this was one, then two homes, two, then three children, dogs, cars, bills, and then maybe nothing but a goddamn mess of string.
This story is about me though. I'm writing my way out of that web, the only way I know how, with words.
I collect lonely people, and like spoons, knives, and forks, all clanking together in the same drawer, we all belong, without fitting together. I know lonely like the rise and fall of my labored breath, like I know exactly when the cough will end, when my lungs will finally give in and spit out their ransom. I know lonely people. Broken birds. They are all around me, strung along throughout my life in sentence. Each though, a small constellation bringning me some light in the dark. I like the dark, something many don't understand, but if you do, you do, and if you do, then I'll bet somewhere along the way, our stars have crossed.
When I think about it, some maybe were not as lonely as I thought or as they presented themselves to be. I've been called mysterious more than once, but it's a falsehood. It's simply shy and alone. Alone isn't bad though, and that is the fact I have the most problem bringing to paper. The romance of lonely is hard to relsease to words. I know more than one pseudo-lonely soul made their way past my door for a night or two before I wisened up to their lack of real lonesome appeal. Too much bravado, too many words spoken and not enough whispers, a lack of something tangible in the dark. And the older I got, after I was married, when random nights spent unalone became a thousand and one nights alone with other people, I started to crane my ear to the chime of the computer, where the other lonelies, the truly alone, sat in some other place in some other world, our interactions a silent radioactive arc in which the only ways we lay entwined were with the words we spun.
I've now lost many of these friends. I know it is a direct result of the people I choose to interact with, though by no fault of anything other than faulty genes. I might be losing my husband in an entire different manner. I worry I am losing my almost-teenaged son. These losses have created a lethargy in me that somedays feels to heavy to overcome, and while I often felt a self pity that my suffering has gone unnoticed, I know that I turned away from any peering eyes into my despair. Because that is what lonely people do. We are alone. It's not a fault or a chemical problem, it just is. and along the way, I lost first one friend, then another, then my world, strung together by wirds was turned upside down by words untrue and I felt like concrete was being poured on my already drowning body and I could not, did not, care to breathe.
Caring for another lonely person, a bird I cannot fix, gives me purpose. It's a secret I've long kept concealed and which I know now to be futile, but I don't care. I cannot fix anyone, but the intent to try, a co-dependent tsumani, gives me some reason to listen, again. And here I leave a millions words unwritten, unsure who might read and what might be inferred, when I know all I have done is put thought to "paper." How easy it might be to slide down and allow my own words to become untrue, tied together only to buoy my lonely heart?