Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Being Alone

My daughter and I spent a wonderful Sukkot with dear friends from Texas who now live in Chicago.

Yes, the bridge of song from each of the 150 sukkot in the neighborhood (my friend’s children counted them). Yes, the identical crayoned pictures adorning the walls of each sukkah detailing where we came from.

Despite it all, today, back in DC, I feel utterly alone.

I know everyone feels alone sometimes. In her new home in Chicago, my friend is gracious and her life is full of love. But she says sometimes she feels the weight of constant caring for her three energetic, imaginative, delightful children. Husband putting in long hours. Close friends, family in Texas.

Mostly she must miss herself. The self she can’t attend to right now because she’s caring for everyone else. I imagine it waiting patiently for her in an unseen corner of the house.

The man I used to love feels lonely. It was bad timing for romance, but he’s too wonderful to lose by giving up a friendship. He’s between countries; he’s got a job in Chicago he couldn’t turn down, but he longs for home, for Israel.

He builds symbolic bridges: He bought property in Tel Aviv, which I would guess, helps alleviate the greatest measure of existential angst. And his work, much in demand, gives him intellectual connections he craves. He’ll find his love when he returns home, he says. When he’s settled again.

So there are different levels and types of being alone. Naturally, to me, mine feels the purest and most intense form. True, I have a daughter. But I don’t have a partner. I don’t own a home. There isn’t a “when I’m settled” or “soon.”

The future is now for me. Maybe that’s the loneliest feeling there is. One misses the future, just as one sometimes misses the past.

Without a daughter one can feel like the purest observer. Touching the world without leaving a trace of oneself in it. So that loneliness becomes a virtue, a gesture.

Which is great for photographers and poets.

Not so good for mothers, what with all the ways we're supposed to ensure continuous presence. We're responsible for the perpetuation of the species, the tribe, the demand for theraputic psychologists, just to name a few.

I'm trying to make a home in now while remaining open to what is in store. Even if what is in store is just more of right now.

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