The summer of 2017 was a really hot one. I know this because my then girlfriend and I hauled everything we own across several streets in Clapham, up several flights of stairs in a flat before dumping it all on the floor of our empty front room. I held several boxes in my clutches, a huge backpack slung across my neck, pushing a rickety old cart along the street with the brutal sun beating us into a clammy, wheezing submission. We did this exhausting trip 4 or 5 times and must have lost our body weight in sweat, but it was worth it. We flopped onto our sofa like tired dogs at night and just sat there in silence, glancing over at each other and smiling. That first day is as good of an advert as ever for being in love, for life partnerships.
The thing they don’t tell you about moving in with someone is that when it ends, the months you spend removing the tendrils of attachment is like constant, painful surgery. It’s a full detox program. You have to completely detatch. It’s like pulling the retinas from your eyes. It’s in the brand of sugar she used that you still use. The furniture you bought together and divided up when you had to move out. Clothes you bought because she thought it looked good on you that you consider throwing away now when you wear them. She’s still logged into your apps on your phone because that’s how intertwined you had become. Leaving them means untangling the frayed ends of a relationship from everything in your life and you’ll never fully get it all in one go. One day you’ll stumble on the iCloud account with all your stupid selfies, all happy and pulling funny faces together. I still can’t bring myself to delete those. You’ll see all her playlists on Spotify that she saved to your phone. Go ahead and lift up your bed and see all the storage containers she gave to you because she thought you’d need them. The reminders are constant, omnipresent, it’s like oxygen; you barely notice it until you notice it. Settling somewhere else feels like tugging away a layer of your own skin; it won’t come off cleanly, it’ll just give way to more skin. The question is: how far can you afford to dig?
And then the absence of someone becomes loud and explosive. It’s an unavoidable yawn, a stretching morbid curio. Empty rooms devoid of talking is filled with morose music from your teen years, an echoey reverberating clang that hangs in the air like dust. Filling the time wasted with time you remember being better than this. That’s what lonliness is. It’s constant unfulfilled yearning. Constant cyclical movement becomes a necessity. Filling your days with menial tasks, trips to places you wouldn’t ever consider. Your room will never be as clean as it is now. You’ll never go to as many interesting shows and exhibitions as you do when you’re lonely. You start to want to think outside the box. To keep your wandering mind occupied because you know if you don’t you risk getting stuck in the isolation chamber of memories and regret. You’ll get tired one day – tired of faking it – and start to slum it again in the misery loves company VIP lounge. Maybe you’ll give yourself a few hours extra in bed, a few extra hours playing that video game, a few extra hours of just doing nothing and it won’t take long for the darkness to grow thick in the gaps left behind in your head. it creeps in behind your eyelids. Then you remember why you shouldn’t have stopped moving in the first place.
Theres truly no cure for this. You simply have to find someone that makes you happy and try harder than you did before when you had someone. But that’s the catch 22. Too many lonely people seek their answers in other people when the problem is them. I don’t mean that to sound cruel, rather it’s just the sad reality of modern consumer lives. We look for others to make us feel good. We look for the answers externally. It’s like we think of people as products we can spend money on, things we can complain about if they don’t work right. But that’s not how people work. We should really be asking ourselves what we can offer other people. But what could we have done? It wasn’t our fault our society is like this. Individualistic drives of narcism has subtly changed the way we look at relationships. Our drive to feed the ego has eroded trust between the sexes. Depending on who you talk to, all women are whores and all men are rapists. The problem really is that we aren’t ever trained to think in groups. We aren’t raised to care. We’re raised to expect everyone to fill up our empty tear jars like some charity case.
But, really, there’s a silver lining to all this. I’m lonely and I have bouts of depression. I struggle to stay motivated, to care about anyone or anything. But really, having no one around just means I’ve got nothing to lose. I’ve got no family to let down, no girl to live up to, no set group of friends to stick around for. It sounds depressing but I would only drag them down. I’d just use them as a crutch, an excuse to not grow. Lonliness doesn’t have to be a prison sentence, lonliness can just mean beautiful solitude. It means I can do whatever I want. I could move to Japan and become an English teacher. I could go and write in New York. I could travel, go to Europe, Africa – anywhere. And I’m not beholden to anyone or anything. Lonliness is the antithesis of progress, but solitude is a celebration of not being held down. Time to stop looking for people to fix me. If you see me, don’t say hello. Don’t give me your change, don’t fill the silence with empty platitudes. Let me do the work. I promise I’m doing just fine.