I had A Moment yesterday. Tear-stricken, I sent frenzied texts, as usual, to Eldest Sis.
“I woke up this morning,” I wrote to her, “and suddenly remembered that one day, a year ago, when I went to meet Housemate #1 in San Francisco to pick up my books. It was her last day there and my D-1 at Stanford. We spent the rest of the day walking around the city, just the two of us walking aimlessly and talking endlessly. But then I-“ I paused, “I can’t remember more details beyond that. All afternoon I tried, but I’d confuse memories of that day with all the other times we’d walked together- in Philly, New York, everywhere we went together.”
I paused again, steadying myself. “I panicked. The fact that I couldn’t remember, no matter how hard I tried, stressed me out so much that I had to force myself to stop altogether. I don’t know… where I’m getting at and why this memory triggered such a strong reaction. But I think… maybe… from a distance here, when I think of this summer and the friends I’d laughed and cried with- it’s like suddenly everything’s expired. In the end the easiest and most committed way to keep in touch is really being physically present, in the same time and space. Lately, I can’t reach anyone. Everyone is understandably busy. So, so busy. Always so busy and when they’re not, I am. Our time zones just don’t seem to work.”
For the past five years, I live between two time zones; neither quite here nor there.
“We’re constantly missing each other. I get long days of no replies and feel my desperation starts to claw at the empty spaces between my too-long texts and their no-responses. When they at last do, it’s too late. It’s always too late that it’s too awkward to pick anything up again because just waiting on a reply for “how are you?” rarely comes.”
For the past couple of weeks, I’ve clung on to Third Sis’ old words with a desperation that scares me. Words, it’s always words that anchor and keep me on solid ground. Even on days I try to resist, I’d just end up back in her space anyway, reading and rereading her words with an unsettled heart. I clutch to her words and emotions because they echo mine, but I cling on with an engulfing sadness that stems from realizing I will always be two years too late to that figment she once was.
I am always two years too late.
This thought emphasizes the loneliness that’s been eating me up so horribly. Yet it’s funny, I’m funny- I’ve been bugging her through text and random photos more frequent than usual, but I can’t seem to put to words my red alarm; anything but what I feel. Anything but this. I send out dozens of tweets too and share cryptic poetry phrases, but I can’t say aloud the words: I think I’m desperately lonely to the point of near-madness.
We’re not supposed to talk about the loneliness; we’re all alone together.
Even now, my heart feels so unsettled. This desperation to overcome – ugh this word, always this word – this loneliness that’s eating me up scares me. Sometimes I go so deep into myself, I can’t find my way out. It’s scarier knowing that in truth I’m not sure if I even want to escape that darkness; maybe I’m better off in here. I’ve come across too many people who emphasize this loneliness rather than take it away.
And then, too, I had learned early to assume something dark and lethal hidden at the heart of anything I loved. When I couldn’t find it, I responded, bewildered and wary, in the only way I knew how: by planting it there myself.– Tana French, In the Woods