The umpteenth rewatch of Burlesque this weekend brought me back around once more to a quote by god-knows-who (it’s been milked so much):
‘I may be alone, but I’m not lonely’.
And never before has it probably felt more true than in this year of corona-maddened 2020. Because this has suddenly become a harsh reality for pretty much the entire worlds population. All the social butterflies. All the crowd-lovers, festivalgoers and party-animals are suddenly returned to the confines of their empty houses. Alone. Not necessarily lonely, but if you’re someone new to being alone – they often do tend to feel the same.
Although, arguably, some people ARE, in fact, very lonely. I myself, sometimes, am as well. The difference between being alone (aka, not being around a physical entity-other-than-yourself) and lonely (aka, (feeling like you’re) existing separately from any and all physical-or-not entities) is intense, no matter how much they may feel alike.
Yet, while one isn’t usually perceived as the end of the world…to a lot of people…the other is. I don’t really mind either, to be honest.
Being lonely in its most basic connotation is supposed to be maddening. Depressing. Enraging. Or just killing. It’s to be avoided or, when felt, to be solved. One should always venture not to be lonely – is what we’re told. It’s ok to be alone, as long as you’re not lonely.
I am of a different persuasion. Sort of. Sometimes.
I like both being alone AND (every now and then) I also like actually feeling lonely. At least – I don’t particularly mind it, if I happen to feel like it. There’s a sharp tang to real loneliness that my dramatic side sort of loves. The strength I pull from that thought of being alone in the world in all ways that matter reminds me that I CAN (and probably should) aspire more for myself. As someone who is notoriously bad at keeping in touch with people – this is an important feeling to get every so often. It’s what sparks me renewing my connections so as to avoid continual loneliness and turning into the hermit I was probably born to be.
But the key to all of my preferred alone AND loneliness is that I NEED for it to be a choice. My choice.
I’ve spent a decade trying to find ways to get out of social obligations like birthdays and parties and most importantly: things like Christmas and Easter dinners and all that religious holiday-y crap that is forced down our throats as a must-do activity. And now that Corona has conveniently thrown a cancellation on any-and-all-of-these accounts: I despise the thought of being lonely because I’m no longer at the wheel of that decision.
I’ve always hated dragging my lazy carcass the 90 minute drive to the grandparents (although I love those golden oldies in all other regards – just the distance is killing) or to the parties of old highschool-friends-who-never-moved (the people are awesome, the drive-and-not-drinking-at-a-party isn’t). I’ve hated dressing up and sitting pretty with fancier food than just ‘hutspot’ and the formal character of a day-at-grannies. And each year I’d hoped to end up single at Christmas so I wouldn’t have to bother with expectations from an inlaw side as well.
When I HAVE to be social – I want to be alone.
And now that I CAN’T be social – all I suddenly find myself wanting is all of these silly traditions that I never felt I could care for.
I think secretly that just makes me a cat. Right? When I’m outside, I want to go back in. And when I’m inside I’m going to meow at the door until you let me out. (At least, that sounds better than: insane).