People Like Us

From the night sky I pull down the last wisps of thin gray cloud and tuck them under my pillow so I can watch the stars clear and bright before drifting off to sleep. You can have all the love in the world and still feel alone and although some may read that statement as a sad one, to me it feels like it is a kind of mysterious gift. There were times, of course, when loneliness cut me so deep I couldn’t breathe. It is no small thing, that kind of weighted grieving over a thing untouchable. But to be alone is a thing which morphs. It is a shape-shifting kind of space in which you can be free of the expectations of others, even the expectations of all the ancient unwritten rules which held you down and forced your face into the dirt time and time again. You can crave it even as that kind of unbridled freedom scares you to bits.

He was a writer and a deeply introspective, intelligent one at that, if perhaps a little intense. When he would send me his stories I was always taken by their depth of connection to the physical body even as he wrote about fantasy. I always wanted to be able to reach a reader in such a way that they could feel the very feelings I felt, which seemed to me like it would be the closest I ever came to creating magic. To immerse another soul into my own, like I was a wishing well or a wide open ocean, deep with dark canyons and secret creatures of gigantic shadow and eerie though magnificent light.

In dreams I see the stories of my life play out in reverse. I see myself as a child of only six or seven, running in the grass to capture fireflies into my small little hands. Back when a moment was a moment and they all seemed to string together endlessly. Like every evening for the rest of my life would be as soft and sweet as summer, taste like strawberry chapstick, smell like honeysuckle and the coming of a night spent snuggled in blankets next to an open window above the back yard which was just a small square but to me held all the adventures my tiny heart could ever imagine.

It’s funny how we tell stories in order to entertain and yet we need them for so much more than amusement. We aren’t just bored we’re hungry and terrified and so much more intuitive than the world gives us credit for being. If you are too afraid to sit alone and let the words come, you are too afraid to know yourself as you really are. And that’s fine if you want to buy everything they try to sell you. It’s no matter if the ramblings of the pompous guy in the corner office are enough to keep you working your fingers to the bone.

But for some of us, even the faintest prospect of no story is the greatest sorrow, the deepest grief we could possibly fathom. For some of us we’d go absolutely mad if we couldn’t be alone. I don’t always know what I’m going to write until I sit down to do it. But after having done it for so long now, I know the surprises are enough to keep my faith alive. To keep believing that there is something out there in the void that keeps me reaching for the other side.

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