Loneliness. She’s a strange thing.
A silent slunker. A quiet house guest who slurps her tea too loudly.
Slurpppp. Slurpppp. Just to remind you that she’s there.
Around. Using moments when the house gets still & life stops moving at night to wear you down and water your bones with the thought that just might be it: Alone.
A word we’ve too long cluttered with the thoughts of Unwanted & Apart & Isolated. All the words we convinced ourselves were never quite acceptable for the ones with the world in their hands.
You’ll push her off. Turn your cheek. Turn over the pillow. Turn up the volume. Turn on the phone to slide through a News Feed that will convince you: You’ve got people. They love you. They care. This feeling is temporary. Oh, so temporary. As you let the tears ripple in.
And so you tuck.
Tuck yourself into bed and the Loneliness slithers.
She’ll crawl beneath your sheets. She’ll clutch you in the dark.
She’ll roll & wad herself within the Sunday Times and wedge herself into cracks in the wall.
She’ll start crowing your name, desperate in her approach, when the dinner party ceases and you’re taking the keys and driving back to an empty home. And her. Her again.
She’ll greet you at the door. Tap dance on the tile floors. Rummage through your closets to wear a floppy hat for your arrival.
“So where ya been?” she’ll whisper, before you even shut the door. Her voice the collection of every mystical Harry Potter creature to ever roam the library shelves. She’ll tap her knees together anxiously. She wring her hands for an answer.
Greet her, child. Greet her.
When you find her standing, slunking, at the door. Greet her. A thing you never thought you’d do.
Ask her to sit.
You in one rocking chair. She in the other.
Turn on the kettle. Let her slurp her chamomile tea.
Engage her in a way that would make the busiest of people crawl straight from their skin.
Turn off the phone. Get quiet beside her. Get real quiet.
Submit to her and the stories she’ll tell. Leave her flabbergasted by the fact that she is speaking. Really speaking.
Talking… really talking.
Find yourself within her eyes as she unfurls her shoulders and unfolds her arms to be a thing that was never worth the fear you gave her.
“Oh, Miss, I…I never tried to hurt you. Never meant to… to scare you. Only wanted… f-f-f-friends. Conversationsss…sss. Or what’s that word? Ack… ack… acknowledgement.”
Folks, like me, we… we… we just want to know we’re alive. That someone sees us. I’ve.. I… I…. have never even found a thing that would give me a… I think you call it “a name”… something to call myself. Can you help me, Miss? Can you give me one of those? A name?”
And in that very moment that you’ve got Loneliness sitting in the rocking chair beside you… breathless for a statement… mouth watered for a chance to call something her own… name her.
Name her, child.
Name her for the sake of all the others who never had the Courage or the Time to call her what she is.
Delicate & Strange. Graceful & Clumsy, all at the same time.
Name her for the sake of all the slow moving truth that comes when we learn to call a thing by name: A chance to start over with less unknown in tow. A moment to accept the feelings that corner us in empty rooms and call them what they truly are: O.K. Just fine. Only staying for a little while.
Like a lullaby.
Like the relief that floods your ankles when you know a thing… really know a thing enough to give it less mystery…
Like an old name, harbored & held, brought up again at a high school reunion. Ten years past.
Let her trace the sounds with her own two lips. To sound it out. & try it on.
At last, at last. Her name, her name.