The skies in my world have been pretty overcast as of late. Now I know this is often used as a metaphor for sadness. Granted, there’s been plenty of that to go around. But for me, sadness comes and goes like a storm. Much more pervasive and persistent are the clouds of loneliness and yearning.
Loneliness. I’ve plumbed the depths of this emotion more than I would have ever cared to. I’d consider myself an extrovert. I grew up a twin, never more than a few feet from my freckle-faced “brubber”. Then it was off to college, where I always had a roommate. Lots of friends and lots of good times. Seemed like there was no end to the opportunities for an extrovert like me. I suppose I did a stint on my own after college, before I figured out that I didn’t want the moments that Alicia and I were spending together to stop. Then we were newlyweds trying to figure out what marriage was, and what it certainly wasn’t. Lots of bending and stretching, tearing and mending until you finally fit each other like a pair of those fancy shmancy Isotoner gloves. And while I had time to get broken in to this process of becoming a husband and companion to someone full-time, the same was not true of my exit from the blessed institution of marriage. Bam! You’re single now bro, get the hell used to it. The only way I can describe it is to picture yourself getting slammed into a concrete box for solitary confinement when you’ve walked freely in the sunshine for the last 16 years. That incredible human being, the one reliable safe place in whose presence you could be anything, is now gone. And yet the desire for that connection remains. So I write her, a lot. Only I get no responses. You start to suspect that the warden on this unit is stashing her replies in his top drawer, that mean bastard.
And now for the yearning. My God, the yearning. What do I even say? When you’ve put in the hard work and are tight with your partner, you get the keys to a cabinet full of perks. I’m talking the kisses goodbye and the kisses hello, the check-ins throughout the day, the pet names, the ribbing, the debates and the challenges, the lovemaking, the blissed out spooning after lovemaking, the just simply sitting around and doing nothing but you’re cool with it because you’re with your best friend. And again, you’re not given time to adapt to this new reality when she’s gone. No slow weaning from the intimacy you’ve shared on a daily basis. That cabinet was slammed shut on your fingers. All you’re left with is the marrow-deep throbbing and, of course, the yearning that keeps fucking with your mind. On my worst days, I just want to take to the streets like a beggar, wandering and pleading for alms of affection, for anything. It sure as hell feels vulnerable and pathetic, but it is what it is. About the only thing that dulls the ache is to strap on my Pearl Izumis and head out the door. Not to beg, but to run my ass off until I’m too spent to dwell on anything else but the taking of that next step and the in-out-in-out of my breath.
And now for those bittersweet silver linings – memories. In my case, these initial encounters were difficult to handle. The pain was so fresh that any recollection plunged me into despair. But slowly, quietly, the sweetness of them all started to bubble up from somewhere deep below. I suspect they were always there, they just never had need to arise. And it’s not just cognitive memories I’m referring to. No, these are memories of touch, of scent, of hearing, of her very presence. I knew Alicia was wired into my senses early on in our relationship. From the very beginning, she always loved it when I “played with her hair”, as she called it. Shortly before I moved abroad, I was sharing a bed with that very same freckle-faced twin only to wake to myself, yes, playing with his hair. (So sorry brubber Jeffy!) Fast forward a couple of months, and my flatmate in Spain is having a sit down with me, asking me if I’m gay. What? Turns out I’m playing with Gerardo’s hair too, and giving him tender little kisses on the head to boot. (Lo siento muchísimo Gerardo!) But back to my point. I really don’t know where these sensory experiences come from, and I really don’t care. Though they will never be a substitute for the real thing, they are still so precious and healing.
I know I’ve referenced the movie Castaway in a previous blog, and I’ve got to do it again. Hmm, there must be something I really like about that flick. All too often I don’t have the answer when I’m despairing from loneliness, from yearning, from sadness, from anger, or from whatever else that comes with this process. But I find wisdom in these words:
“And now I know what I have to do, gotta keep breathing. Because tomorrow the sun will rise. Who knows what the tide could bring?” (emphasis added)
Here’s to breathing and keeping a weather eye on the tide.