Beautiful poem, it reminds me of that Baz Luhrman song, “(Everybody’s Free) To Wear Sunscreen”. When I was much younger, aloneness and loneliness were two VERY different things. I hated being lonely, but I thrived in being alone. Aloneness was a good friend of mine, so well in fact, that when I am away from alone, meaning when I was around people, I felt unsafe. I could sit in my room all day, reading comicbooks, looking out the window daydreaming, going to different lands, worlds, dimensions, without getting up from my narrow bed. I had so many “friends”, all imaginary, with whom I can retreat into a private world, complete in its independence and sovereignty. We would talk and laugh and explore and get scared together. There was Grover, the dog I wasn’t allowed to have (my sister had asthma); Rhinus and Jason, my two best friends, twins, who were with me wherever I went; Doggy (not a dog) who was a pillow that protected my neck at night from marauding vampires, and LoveMe, a bone-shaped red pillow who hated the group but went with us anyway (we didn’t like him because he stank). I could sit in a cramped crowded car from Manila to Baguio, without uttering a single sound, blissfully unaware of the tedious trip, my mind safely tucked away somewhere far, far from where I sat. I loved traveling alone, walking the busy streets of some faraway land, sometimes getting within a blade’s length of peril, but forging on recklessly to find new adventures. I long wanted love, but it wasn’t imperative to my happiness. It was more out of curiosity, like a virgin playing with the idea of sex in his inexperienced mind. Love and companionship were chocolate sprinkles on top of the ice cream. It wasn’t life; the ice cream was life. It sweetens the package, but it wasn’t essential to it. I loved watching movies by myself, alone in my thoughts, I didn’t merely watch the films, I went in them. I reveled in my moments in outer space, or underwater, or in Siberia being chased by snowsleds, or crying tears after my lover died. The experience was complete. No need for company, they were excess baggage that would only slow me down in my search for adventure. I loved eating alone; I didn’t have to ask anyone what they wanted, I just ate what I wanted to eat. I can stop when I’m full, and I can choose to go home if I wanted to poop or sleep, or poop THEN sleep. I laughed alone, I wept alone, I loved alone (I even had some sexy times alone, LOL!). But not ONCE did I feel like I was a pathetic loner loser.
Then everything around me told me that what I did, what I enjoyed, made me a pathetic loner loser. Apparently, I wasn’t supposed to enjoy being alone. Apparently, people who were alone were inferior to people who need people, because they’re the luckiest people in the world. Apparently, in order to be happy, I needed to be taught to be unhappy with what made me perfectly happy to begin with. I was barraged by love stories and you’s and me’s against worlds, and professions of loves of all shapes and sizes. Love made you special, therefore the lack of it made you goatshit. Then aloneness became loneliness, they were no longer two separate states, they became synonyms. I began to dread leaving the house alone. I’d hide my face whenever I had to eat in a restaurant alone, I looked down at my shuffling feet as I briskly walked away, afraid to see the accusing stares, filled with disdain and pity for this lonesome loser, who is so worthless that he can’t even have anyone with him in a mall. I hated parties, always making sure I arrived early , so that I didn’t have to deal with the shame of making a grand entrance, calling everyone’s attention to the fact that I arrived alone. I hated reunions, family or school, because everyone will ask the question, the answer to which they already know, given that my answers in previous encounters never really changed through the passing years. I hated staying at home, because every bang of the second hand of my clock sounded like a judge’s gavel pounding again and again, lounder each time than the previous one, sentencing me to a life of solitary existence until the day of deliverance, the day I find freedom from this imprisonment, the day I die alone. Death will be my only company, the only one who’d care to visit my rotting soul.
Then I find true love. Suddenly I wasn’t a loser anymore; by “their” rules, I am now a winner. But I beg to disagree. I want to go back to the state where being alone is not inferior to being with someone. One is not better than the other, just different. Does it mean that if I find myself alone again, I go back to losersville? I hate that the thought scares me. I want to be just as okay with alone as I am with being with somebody. I hate that now I feel incomplete on my own, like a two-legged stool. I need to find that 3-in-1 complete Chico, who was fine on his own, kinamay lang, ayos na (LOL!)! Don’t get me wrong, I love being a couple, I wouldn’t exchange it for anything in the world, I just don’t like dreading the state of aloneness. There’s NOTHING wrong with being alone, and I hate that everything around us tells us otherwise. That’s why movies where the leads don’t end up together are considered “sad” or tragic movies, while movies where the leads end up with each other are considered “happy endings” (different from the massage parlor variant) types of movies.
So this poem struck a raw nerve. It’s okay to be alone. I don’t want to be alone, but I need to be okay with being alone. Nakanampucha…group hug!