there is a loneliness in being human, a sense of isolation that can happen in between the spaces of shared laughter and conversation. and it is okay, this loneliness because it is the space where we can separate out all the noise and find the familiar voice that has guided us through literally everything to this point, right here, right now.
it is harder to be lonely these days, truly lonely and i am starting to wonder if that is actually a problem for me. it is too easy to pick up a phone and text out words, to read the words of others, too easy to connect in both shallow and deep waters. and i look up and see the trees, long branches surrounded by more long branches and for a time they are lonely, without the brush of leaves covering them or perhaps they are truly lonely when the leaves are hiding their long limbs from view and birds are nesting and squirrels are scampering. i don't really know. because lonely can happen in a room full of laughter and conversation. and lonely can happen in the quiet night of darkness and lonely can happen in a forest of whispering and squalling activity.
maybe i am not even talking about loneliness.
maybe i am talking about connection. the quiet contemplative connection of self. the coming to the quiet realization that is your own voice and that is the one voice that brings you to your knees. every. single. time.
but i like the word lonely.
i used to work the night shift at this motel on the edge of the small northern town where i was born and raised and lived for 21 years. it was a different me than the me that i am now, a girl who lived to party and laugh and cry and rage and walk the extremes. a girl who had dropped out of high school and whose options seemed both vast and limited. the motel housed mostly young men who were in some way or another tied to the oil industry. i worked from 8 pm to 8 am or maybe it was 7 pm to 7 am, it was a long time ago and i forget those specifics but i do know that i worked 12 hour shifts and that i negotiated weekends off because i lived for the anticipation of the party and the way those weekends made me feel that anything was possible because when you are young that is really what the going out to the party is all about.
chips hung from the wall and keys were under a case and the cash register was an old clunky affair and credit card machine was a manual device that you rolled over the credit card to get an imprint over top a carbon papered receipt. because this was the late 80s and interac and bank machines were yet to be introduced. i would check people in, check people out and read everything from dante to stephen king novels to thick paperback romance bodice rippers to animal farm to the plays of shakespeare.
it was mostly quiet and at midnight, i would choose one of the porn vhs videos and pop it into the video player that would stream lonely dreams to those lonely men. i would call the police when fights broke out, a window of glass pushed out into the dark parking lot. i would find offerings of plastic flowers and carefully rolled joints in cheesy but cute cards stuck under my window wipers on my old ford fiesta. i would eat dill pickle chips until my lips puckered and follow that up with a cold can of coke.
it wasn't a great job and it was mostly lonely, the dark night rolling fog outside the window and the quiet hum of the heater and the ice machine, the lives rolling by on the highway barely a stone throw away. it was the kind of lonely that forced my hand to write in those cheap journals i would buy at the drug store, thin papered lined like loose leaf and blotted with pens that always seemed to explode across the page due to my penchant for gnawing on the ends, a beaver creating a home out of nothing but inked words.
in the early part of the evening, friends would visit and boys would flirt, oh those clean cut city boys of summer working at the tourist centre, oh those roughneck oil boys with their tied back hair and rough laughter bawdy jokes, oh that boyfriend whose history is spotted with breakups and fights and that boy that won my heart and that one who was too sweet for my lonely ways, the one who felt too good for me as i held on tight on the back of his motorbike, trees rushing by as wind pulled my smile backwards.
but mostly i remember the time in between the visits and the check ins and the morning wake up calls, i remember the alone-ness of tracing the scars on that wood desk like tracing the voices in my head when my eyes were too tired and grainy to read. i remember the questions and the tentative answers and the dreams and the ideas and the quiet hum of the beginnings of a future that was some where out past the highway and the dense forest of trees, past the boys and the porn and the carefully rolled joints that promised of something else.
it was the place where i learned that lonely was a beautiful place to be, lonely was more than an escape or a prison, lonely was the one place where i truly existed. lonely was where i found myself. again and again. lonely was in fact the only place where i truly existed, the real me uncovered and raw, beautiful and whole. free.