Maybe it’s what you tell yourself when you spend so much of your day alone
. Well, weekend days, mostly. To me they are small comfort
, since I’m not the kind of person who can necessarily sit and do nothing for hours on end all the time. I watched Easy Rider
, ate one of the Cornish game hen
s I got from work’s Christmas party, then my friend Rhonda
called from Amherst, Massachusetts to tell me that this weekend was hard for her too. I left the house around noon to see if City Park actually did
have an ice skating rink. If they did, I couldn’t find it. I wandered around in my car listening to the soundtrack for Requiem for a Dream
, feeling sunlight on my face for a change. The Christmas displays were still up. For a fee, you can drive through the park at night and see all the pretty lights, but in the garish daylight, everything’s just a wire skeleton.
I knew I still wanted to be outside while the sun was out, since we get so little of it these days. I rode my bike into the Quarter to see so many people still milling about, shopping. I was glad to have borrowed Mike’s hex wrenches, because the handlebar extensions I bought were still too high. I cruised into The Magic Bus, a used CD store just down the street from Tower, but I couldn’t find anything I wanted. I had to go to Tower and sit behind a woman in line who had no idea what her teenage son listened to while I already had my purchase, Henry Rollins’ Live at McCabe’s. I tried not to be impatient with her. It’s not easy when you don’t know what you want for someone else.
I came home and decided to drive to Audubon Park and listen to old Hank on the way. I put on my roller blades for the first time in over a month when it used to be a daily thing for me before it got too dark when I got home from work. Families were still out walking around. Three people ahead of me, one man with olive green corduroys with a woman and an older man between them. Likely a father coming into town to see his grown kids. Must have been a lot of that going around. Every person I zoomed past I wanted to wish something nice, like happy holidays or merry Christmas, but I could never bring myself to do it. I was imagining how nice it would be to be sitting somewhere, have a guy come up to me and say, “I was wondering if I could come over here and talk to you.” Something simple like that.
I ran over to Whole Foods to get some Ben and Jerry's. People at that store are very nice, almost too nice. I wanted to be back home for Prairie Home Companion at 5, but I got home early enough to catch the program just before it about Johnny Cash and I Walk The Line. The song, according to the program, was written to proclaim Johnny’s fidelity to his first wife while he was on tour. Cash talked about how he started taking amphetamines, and that after a while the pills start taking you.
I laid on my bed and listened to Garrison talk about a family at Lake Wobegon whose daughter left for New York City to make it big as an actress. He said that the meaning of Christmas changes as you get older, that it becomes as simple as sitting with your children, sharing a meal, talking with them, and sharing just a small part of their lives now that they’re grown up. He was right, but when you don’t even get that, Christmas can be pretty pointless.
I guess at that point, I wanted to not think anymore. I opened a bottle of red wine and put in a movie I rented, Slackers. I learned that when you want to escape, conceptual and experimental films highly approved by the Cannes Film Festival aren’t always the best ones to watch. I ended up talking to this person or that on IRC’s #e until about 11 that night, other people who were often as lonely and isolated as I am. I watched dwyn’s comment that he was on the edge of the world (being in Romania, I think it was, to see his family for the holidays) roll up on the screen in black on white. I replied that if there is such an edge, IRC is where we all come to meet and chat. And for some reason, that was a comfort to me.
But it shouldn’t be. I didn’t talk to one person in person today, and that’s most days than not. I have friends, but they’re all away for the weekend. They all live here too, but their families are away too. I don’t think people should live alone so easily. Even when people live with other people they can’t stand, that doesn’t seem fair either. But me, I’m hanging in there. I’m going to the park today and feed the ducks this big bag of cheese popcorn I got from work that I don’t want. At the very least, I need to feel the sun.
I’ve a pack and a half of cigarettes left before I quit, less than two days before I go back to work, and the last movie I rented out of five this weekend, Down By Law, is playing to my left. It was filmed in New Orleans and stars a quite dashing younger Tom Waits as an escaped prisoner in black and white. I am not really depressed, though. Being alone is a default mode, it’s one notch below where I want to be and one notch above where I can no longer cope. My toenails are painted black and my fingernails a sapphire blue. I’m thinking of a handful of people today. Where are you?