I wrote this on the third of July this year. I never posted it due to its mildly melodramatic nature. But I’ve decided to cheat on writer’s block with the past, rather than keep letting it stir on my blogging absence. So put on your best Dashboard Confessional album and enjoy.
A holiday can make you very aware of how alone you are. That is, if you are alone. Sometimes alone can be a good thing. A nice feeling. A sort of dark, twisty comfort. That’s the kind of alone that you feel on a Wednesday morning or really, really late at night. It’s the kind of alone that’s just quiet enough to help you remember that lace and planets and circuses exist. The kind when you seem to learn all over again that skin has layers and tongues have taste buds. The kind when holding a book or a cup of coffee or a cigarette makes you feel perfectly insignificant and complete.
But then there’s the kind of alone that isn’t so romantic. When you are far too aware of the distance between each wall in a room. The kind when anxieties get louder and faster and bigger and heavier. The kind when you just want to fold your limbs up into yourself like the inverse of a flower and sink into the floor.
A holiday most certainly brings out the latter.
I imagine Christmas alone would be difficult. I have been blessed with a family to spend my Christmases with and consider myself pretty lucky in that regard. So I cannot empathize with the soul who spends that day alone, sans tree, sans cookies and pictures and wrapping paper mountains in the center of the living room floor. But I can guess it wouldn’t be the best way to spend a Christmas.
Still, something tells me I could do it.
I have a hard time fully taking in things that I can’t wrap my mind around. Flying, for example, is a complete non-experience for me. I can’t comprehend the fact that I am flying through the air at a ridiculous height and speed – that a giant, winged thing is propelling me through the sky from one part of the world to another – that I’m flying. So I just don’t really experience it at all. I can’t take it all in. It just happens and I get off the plane and don’t think about it.
It’s the same feeling I had at the Lincoln Memorial this summer. I stood there, dwarfed by its enormity, overwhelmed by what it stood for, and cried. Because I knew that I was standing at the memorial of a great man who did great things that I will never really understand. So I just walked back down the 87 steps, got back on my bike, and left. It was a non-event. An un-moment.
Christmas is the same. It’s the one day a year when the world stops to remember the birth of our Lord and Savior. I don’t even begin to take that in. I get caught up in the commercialism of the day quickly. Not because it is more important to me, but because it is far, far less important. I can understand presents. I can’t understand that Jesus Christ came to the earth to be born as a man. I can’t get that. So most years, I don’t really experience that part of Christmas.
Which is why, (two somewhat unnecessary paragraphs later), I maintain that I could spend it alone.
New Years is in that camp, too. Mostly because I have a severe inability to comprehend numbers and the expanse of time in my mind. Whatever gene allows people the ability to perceive distances or guess the number of beans in a jar or estimate elapsed time, I most certainly do not possess. Which is why when the countdown starts and the ball drops and the drunk guy next to me tries to lean in, I get wholly overwhelmed by the idea that an entire year has happened and at this very moment an entirely different one is starting again. I don’t get it. I can’t wrap my mind around it. So I just drink my glass of champagne (or three) and blow that annoying little blower, horn, streamer thing and go on with my night, my year.
I think I could do that alone.
It’s the little holidays, though, the easy ones, the ones I understand that really get me.
Not that you’d find me holed up in my bed, depressed and weeping on Arbor Day. But perhaps the others – Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, Fourth of July – those are tough to do alone. People expect you to have plans. They ask, and they anticipate an answer. I’m going here. I’m doing this. I’m making these cute little red, white, and blue petit fores I saw on Pinterest. It’s all anyone at work can talk about. It’s the easy way to circumvent awkward small talk with people you don’t really want to talk to. It’s what your grandma asks when she calls. And so on.
So when you have no answer and you have no plans and you have no flag-decorated baked goods, it’s really rather unfortunate. It’s the sucky kind of alone – the inverse flower kind.
And it puts all this pressure on you to force yourself to do something.
There are plenty of people in Auburn I could go to the bars with. I could fight through crowds of drunk frat boys and American flag bathing suits to drink their beer and dodge their terrifying, whiskey-guided fireworks. Or I could do something patriotic at home. Force myself to like hot dogs for a night. Put in The Patriot and cry when Mel Gibson says goodbye to his daughter again. Maybe even wear a red bra, knowing that no one will see it, just for the hell of it.
But the problem is, I don’t want to do any of those things. I don’t want to go to the bars. I don’t want to eat a hotdog. And to be quite honest, I don’t want to wear a bra at all.
I want to enjoy my day off, go for a long run, take a hot shower, eat peanut butter for dinner, and watch a dark, twisted movie in my bed with my dark, twisty loneliness.
I’m okay with the fact that my friends have all graduated and moved away. I knew I’d be somewhat alone in grad school. And I am. And it’s fine. I’m even okay with the fact that I got dumped last week. I knew I was terrible with relationships. And I was. And it’s fine.
But what I didn’t know was how much less “fine” those things would feel on a holiday like Fourth of July. What I didn’t realize was how hard it would be to not have someone to light sparklers and make jokes with at the expense of Canadians everywhere. And that is really rather unfortunate.
It’s not a pity party I’m throwing here. It’s really not. It’s just that this would be a rather long and largely socially unacceptable answer to the “what are you doing for the Fourth?” question that keeps being asked. Not even my grandma would want to sit through all that.
It just is what it is and even if its a little less fine tomorrow than usual, that only means it will be a little more fine on Thursday and thereafter.
Theoretically, that is.
I’ll report back on Labor Day and let you know.