It's 11:43 pm and I can't taste life.
I remember it like an old friend. I remember the fire of youth, the heat of purpose. I remember friends. I remember white hot searing passion, the frenzy of a good book well read, the liquid fluid touch of poetry swilling under my fingers.
I wanted to be someone. I wanted to be something. But now I don't know where my life is going, and who I'm going with. If I had life enough to hate it, I would. But all I feel is lead inside.
I started a new job two weeks ago, fresh out of school. I am making more than all my fellow post-college friends. The chairs are plush. I cycle to work every day to a job where I get to do what I love. A gorgeous girlfriend pines for me in New Jersey, killing time before she goes to MIT in the fall for grad school. I am surrounded by lake water and ducks, I drown in fresh breeze and the promise of eternal sunshine tinged with the aftertaste of rain I have always just missed.
Life is perfect - pristine, perhaps. And I would happily trade it all away for the chance to get drunk and go wild with people I have known intimately and trusted all my life.
Because, for all that my life has finally fallen into the well-grooved rhythm of slow success, I have no friends. I don't think I've ever had friends. Somewhere I forgot how, in going from acquaintances to comrades, to make that bold leap, or maybe I just never learned. If I have a friend, it is the love of my life - and she's too far away to be near now.
I find myself perusing r/dirtypenpals, wondering how strangers find the strength to make intimate connections online. I watch Netflix's Stranger Things, and I know jealousy when I see teenagers wrestling with identity, friendship, the first pangs of infatuation, the sweet sin of sex with someone new in empty raucous houses. I haven't left my house in over a weekend. I can't find a good bookstore anywhere. Listening to Rene Aubry play the music of the gods stirs wistful memories.
I don't click well with colleagues. I don't click well with normal people. I try, too. In conversation I'm jovial, ready with a joke, always eager to enquire deeper into the lives of people I've just met. I've never made an Uber trip where I didn't get to know the driver better. Family I've met once or twice I never leave without complimenting their food, taking care of their kids, asking about their work.
I don't think I've made a friend yet. I don't think I've even made acquaintances. Maybe I really have forgotten. Maybe I just never learnt how.
Hell isn't not knowing where to belong. Hell is not knowing how.