Returning to Solitude, Age 24

by onelabrat

via Flickr user Fernando Ariotti

Alone.

I realized that I have forgotten what it means to be alone.  And strangely enough, I have forgotten how to make a conversation with someone, without wanting to reach in and squeeze their intestines just to make sure they’re real.  This makes me feel creepy, which has led me to avoid people for the time being.

It has made parties and meeting new people extremely challenging. And it makes me feel extremely alone.

One time I was at a party and this woman was telling me about her non-profit something or other and she was very sweet and serious and said that she wanted to try something new but that you know, she needed a job and it was nice. I told her, “do you have any idea how replaceable you are?”  She didn’t seem to understand. “What do you mean, replaceable?”

I am like the gourmet eater who has turned to counting calories. I cannot seem to enjoy a single meal of conversation without analyzing its content, motivation, goals and after-effects. It is driving me crazy!  Do we all go through some phase like this, or am I just being ridiculously cynical and mental?

Of course I am mental. I can’t help it. Someone told me I over analyze things. I can’t help it! There is so much data right now. Let me just show you the spreadsheets of data I’m analyzing for work. Try organizing that shit into Excel. It’s not an easy job. I find myself scrolling 90% of the time.  That’s what we do in life – scroll down, scroll up, trying to find what ever it is we are looking for. Copying and pasting to suit our needs.  Thank the lord for copy and paste, without which our lives might be just a little too creative.

Back in the day I loved going to parties and meeting new people and hearing what they did and where they were from. Today, I still love it. But included in that joy of just listening is also some sort of pattern recognition that comes along with seeing a similar situation play out so many times. It’s like after you watch 5 action flicks you know exactly how the next one will play out.

When you go eat at a restaurant, you already know exactly what’s going to be on the menu. There’s no element of surprise. Go to a bar and expect burgers. Go to a Chinese place and expect very saucy salty chicken-like things. (Which, btw, is NOT real Chinese food.) You even know what you’re expected to pay. Life is… predictable. Like restaurants, I feel that people are just as predictable.  Jane likes to read Sherlock Holmes and Jack likes to go biking.

Do you want to try contact dance? No thanks, I’m not into dancing. How the heck would you know you’re not into dancing? Is it because one time in high school you danced in gym and nobody wanted to be your partner so as a result you’ve developed fear and anxiety to associate with dancing? Do you even have a single clue regarding how many different types of dance there are and how large a role it played in developing different cultures and styles? Come on, people, open your eyes!

The best (sarcasm) part is meeting people who say they *love* to travel and experience new cultures. But they haven’t even walked around their own block because they’re so busy driving to work and meeting up for brunch. Oh- and when they took a 2-week trip to India, they didn’t eat any of the local food because they heard it was *dangerous” and stayed in the tourist district the whole time and hung out with other travelers.

I want to take them by the feet, hang them upside down and shake them until they drop their balls.

I feel like I have to constantly pull teeth to work at making conversation go somewhere it hasn’t been, and making people pull down their barriers. Gosh, we have so many barriers. Layers and layers of barriers that we put up with our acts.  We are tremendous actors at hiding our feelings, who we are, what we are really thinking, what we really want. We are great at telling partial stories – giving the icing and some sprinkles, and leaving out the actual sponge of the cake, the part that is soaked with emotion and density.

We want to stick to our diet of oatmeal, yogurt, salads and burgers. We don’t want to try new things. We don’t want to take a risk and talk about our feelings and our emotions. We’d rather – wait, don’t tell me – we’d rather not know. We love being on the level of how-are-you I’m-great-thank-you-how-are-you?

It’s as if, after college, our spiritual chase is done for and we’re now all in the game. Getting married, posting pictures on Facebook, going to bars occasionally. Having BBQs talking about our jobs and our *oh, that’s interesting*, safe lives. Playing Scrabble occasionally. Watching television.  It’s as if after college, it’s no longer okay to get together with 30 people and play a large game of manhunt. No, sorry, have to wake up early tomorrow morning, have to drop my kids off, have to hang out with my parents, have to do my laundry, have to clean my car, have to go on a date, have to avoid the rain there might be acid in it, have to — when has any of that stuff stopped you before?

Perhaps that’s what best friends are for. Perhaps that’s why we tend to involve ourselves in relationships – because we want to feel some sort of connection PLEASE some sort of real human contact and unfaked thoughts. We are so into our own little safety nets that god forbid we are *alone* in our safety nets.

And then I look at myself and I think, nice, I am so fake I’m real.  I have become just like them, I am them. And strangely… I am neither miserable nor unhappy.  I am living, I am American, I am content.  I know how my life will play out even before it happens, the script is in my head.

Life is a stage, I am an actress, and I am on strike.  (For now, at least.)

2 Comments to “Returning to Solitude, Age 24”

  1. It’s true, after college people seem to think that being “grown-up” means that they have to act like old fuddy-duddies. It’s part of the societally accepted idea of what people do when they “mature” and “grow up” and anything less than that is irresponsible, immature, and reason to be looked down upon. It’s ridiculous, I agree. I think everyone needs to step back, take a deep breath, smell the roses, and have a good time once in a while. I understand that life has to be taken care of, people DO have responsibilities, but everyone should be entitled to (at least) once a week let loose and just have some fun with their friends. It’s essential for one’s sanity, if you ask me. All too often, however, we forget that.

  2. I thought that this was a terrific post. (You made me hungry!)
    I understand the feeling of wanting to shake people out of their pseudo-experiences. Sometimes the feeling consumes me.

    Then I figure that they can continue on their trajectory … and I will on mine. I feel like my natural compassion’s become eroded, but it’s a natural consequence of this “growing up” process that I absolutely hate.

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