Sunday, November 12, 2017

The language of loneliness

"He says: what do words ever reveal
He says: in speaking one can be so false
We're so close we have a silent language
We don't need words at all."

Grief, melancholy, sadness, dejection, mourning, bereavement, loss, loneliness dispossession, angst - these are words I've allowed myself to use to describe my feelings of late, some of the time, at their worst.

Misery, sorrow, anguish, pain, heartache, heartbreak, torment, affliction, suffering, woe, desolation, despair - these words are over the top for both how I feel and for that which I grieve, and I'd feel shame and guilt to use them.

Shame and guilt are words that describe how I feel anyway. That and narcissistic. Because right or wrong, reasonable or irrational, my feelings are my feelings and the sadness is real. Psychic pain goes hand-in-hand with self-absorption. When I hurt it's hard to feel sustained concern about anything or anyone else. It takes so much energy to simply weather each bout.

This past week we had day after day of gray, gloomy weather. The sun finally came out and I finally tapped some energy to tackle more boxes. I've got most of my boxes empty, even though that just means I have things stacked and staged on bedroom and closet floors, waiting for furniture to be ready for delivery, waiting to buy more furniture.

Getting the boxes mostly emptied finally motivated me to call the contact I had for house cleaning and pet sitting. She is coming to meet us and give us a price next week. That gives us a couple more days to clean and tidy. I don't want to discourage her. I think having some help with the house will pay generous dividends in lifting my spirits.

Telling our housekeeper of many years that we were moving was one of the only times I broke down in tears, of the times I told people. Most of the time when talking about the move I felt oddly dispassionate, matter-of-fact, reluctant but resigned, distant.

A trusted housekeeper is different somehow. She works in your home, she handles your personal belongings, she has a house key and the alarm code. She is a little like a mother, even if she is years younger than you. She makes things clean, she takes care of you.

My studio is closer to being set up. I ordered the hoses I needed and connected the oxygen to the torch. I called the HVAC company to schedule someone to hook up the gas. They have to call me back next week to let me know if they can do it.

Neil put together another shelving unit for my glass. The massive overwhelming task of un-bubble-wrapping and organizing my glass looms large. I wrapped it with great care but packed it unsystematically, so I suspect I'll moving it around a lot and it will be a long time until I am as intimately familiar with what I have and where to find it as I was before the move.

I don't have to have it all unwrapped before I can start making again, and I doubt I will. But at some point I hope it will be done.

I feel the same, to a lesser degree, about the beads I have collected. I know I run the risk of what happened the last time I moved, in 2007. I'm reminded regularly, because I am handling all the bins and tubs full of the tissue-wrapped collectibles that I never unwrapped in Sugar Land.

I feel ambivalent about them still. I always thought I'd unwrap them one day, that maybe I'd have a grandchild who they'd delight and amuse. I know as a child I'd have been enchanted by the hordes of miniature animals, the frog and cat collections, the little fine china dishes, the Halcyon days boxes.

If I had to bet money right now, I would take long odds that I'll never have a flesh-and-blood granddaughter. In the bigger picture I'm OK with that now. The world is a rough place. Life remains easier for males, I think. And we're not doing our planet many favors, we're playing a reckless endgame, and I fear humankind may be due for a comeuppance sooner than later. I sincerely hope it's not in my lifetime, or my kids' or my grandkids'. After that, well at least I won't be around to witness.

Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking recently warned that the Earth may go up in flames as soon as the year 2600, thanks to population overgrowth and diminishing energy resources. I tend to think he's right, if polar ice cap melt, or a giant caldera eruption, or a massive meteor hit doesn't expedite a crisis sooner.

Hawking's proposed solution is to use laser-propelled nanocraft technology to explore habitable planets in nearby solar systems. Nearby in the sense of four light years away.

Pie in the celestial sky, say I. I'd rather see financial resources directed away from space travel and toward more practical ways to preserve our species, such as developing technology to slow down or reverse the effects of greenhouse gasses on the temperature of this planet. That doesn't mean another big one won't get us first, but if we can't keep living here on this planet that is so perfectly suited to us homo sapiens, why do we think we'd do any better anywhere else?

What gives anyone the chutzpah to believe that we should get a second chance to screw up a perfectly good planet?

But what do I know? I was an English major. I like reading fantasy, I just don't believe in it.

Neil says my pessimism about the future depresses him, but I don't see it as pessimism, I see it as realism. I don't think I can influence change - any more than I can influence gun control - so I accept it. If anything, it reminds me to carpe diem, to hug my loved ones more tightly, and to celebrate Thanksgiving every day.

All right, so I suck at that. But I do try. Even at times when I am consumed by what I don't have, I am ruefully conscious of all that I do have and I am damned grateful.

Or am I just hedging my bets? Am I practising gratitude because I am well aware that happiness is fragile at best and that I am amazingly lucky with the things that most matter in life?

I know that in my struggles with depression and anxiety in 2001 and 2002, I was desperately afraid that if I didn't get over it soon, God or the universe or some higher power would punish me by giving me something to really be sorry about. As if there was cause and effect at work, as if my selfish sorrow would somehow engender more egregious consequences.

I don't like to think that my gratitude is some sort of effort to bargain with fate. I'd much rather be stoic and stable and constant, feel nothing but praise and joy, experience nothing but beatitude and grace.

I'd rather not ricochet between tears and guilt, sadness and shame, grief and gratitude.

But enough about me. Or at least enough of the maudlin me.

I'm adjusting to my extra firm mattress. We put an even fluffier comforter under the fitted sheet, so crawling into bed is something not to fear.

We bought a folding camping chair so I have one more seating option when the asshole sofa and the hardass kitchen chairs wear out my derriere.

I found my purple hoodie, and my other missing hoodies and bathrobes, hiding in a forgotten box in the garage.

We started watching the series Prime Suspect on DVD, the second time for me, but I've been wanting to re-watch it and share it with Neil.

We're going to see Murder on the Orient Express, despite mixed reviews, because Kenneth Branagh. And Johnny Depp. And Judi Dench. And Derek Jacobi. Coincidentally, Neil and I recently watched the 2010 version with David Suchet as Poirot, the second to last episode of Agatha Christie's Poirot Season 12, which also is the second to last season of the series.

We're walking to the theater and, after the movie, we're trying the Kung Fu Noodle House. With a long season of cold-weather comfort food ahead, the more options the better.

I'm ordering a down jacket from Land's End because the warmer I dress, the happier I will be going out, and the more I get out, the happier I feel.

And Neil made a reservation at the North Harbor Club on Lake Norman for their Thanksgiving Day buffet.

So now when people ask, do you have plans for Thanksgiving, we don't have to stare blankly and say, not really.

Neil for the win-win.


I've lived in all of the houses he's built
The one in the air
The one underground
The one on the water
The one in the sand
He says: It doesn't matter how we live
He says: It doesn't matter where we live
We're so close we can dispense with houses
We don't need a home at all

It's come to be
A habit with me
To dine alone
You're never home
And the evenings end so early
He says: we can be close from afar
He says: the closest people always are
We're so close that in our separation,
There's no distance at all.

Sometimes I go out to the car
Turn on the headlights
Intending to leave
Sometimes I need to hear the words
My imagination's not as strong as you'd believe

Oh, but I've talked to you
You haven't listened at all
I've said I'm numb
I can't even cry
I'm stuck with acting out a part
He says: what do words ever reveal
He says: in speaking one can be so false
We're so close we have a silent language
We don't need words at all

There's a husky voice
That speaks to me in the dark
And on the phone from studios
And west side bars
Through tunnels of long distance
He says: we're beyond flowers
He says: We're beyond compliments
We're so close we can dispense with love
We don't need love at all.


(Carly Simon)

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