Alone. Alone. I spent most of Christmas alone. Milla went to her dad’s and Isabel went with her dad and I didn’t have either of them for about 5 hours. Last week when I was stressed I looked forward to the break, but I’ve had some time to relax a little and I was bored without them. I went to a movie and went for a walk with the dog. What was different in my aloneness this time is that I wasn’t achingly lonely, desperate for my life to be different. This is a huge shift from a few years ago, before my last relationship, when I would stand in my shower with my head on the tiles of the wall and sob.
As I walked along I thought about the fact that I’m spending no time at all with my parents, not even trying to maintain the charade we’ve kept up for the last 2 decades, and I was glad of it. It was so much simpler not pretending that I gave a shit. I was glad to be free of the resentment that every year my little family is given short shrift. A couple of years ago my mom stopped even pretending to try and see us on Christmas. My sister has been so relentless about everything being on her terms, even to the point that for years she would find out when I wanted my mom to visit me and then make sure that this was the time she asked my mom to visit her. I started keeping it a secret just so she wouldn’t know, but then that left my mom wondering and unable to schedule, and of course anytime I would allude to what I thought was going on, the denials would take over. So many years of me and my girls being the bottom of the priority list. If anything good has come of this backing out of any semblance of a relationship, it is the end of losing the argument over who gets my mother. My sister won. And it isn’t even me being sour grapes about it; I honestly don’t care. I have nothing in common with my mother, nothing to talk about of any substance, so there isn’t anything to miss or be sour grapes about. Our conversations are empty. There are long silences. I can’t talk about my life because she just doesn’t get it. My mom won’t talk about politics, or world events, or constitutional issues, or the kinds of movies I see, or the kinds of books I read, or any of it. And honestly, I don’t really like the kinds of movies she sees or the books or magazines she reads either. It isn’t all one way. I am just as disinterested in her interests as she is in mine. My mother is desperate to pretend the world is a perfect place. She sees movies that are so sappy and cloying, they make me want to vomit. She reads the Bible and books about how to be a good Christian, and I’m an atheist. I like The New Yorker. She likes Guideposts. She wishes I wouldn’t discuss the problems our world is facing or rail against greedy bankers, even if she agrees with the sentiment, and that everyone would just get along.
Me too, Mom, me too, but life is not a Rockwell painting. If she knew me at all she would know how deeply I lament the complexity of the mess this world is in. If she knew me at all she would know so much more about me than she does. I suppose it is probably a good thing, but she doesn’t even know I write this blog, and I’ve done so for years. I believe she doesn’t want to know me. She has avoided who she thinks I am for years, and the only reason I can come up with is that I scare the shit out of her, and that’s too bad. She doesn’t even know the simple things. Grey has been one of my favorite colors to wear for several years now. Last year she was going to give me some gift of an item of clothing, but said she did not because it was grey, and “Lara doesn’t wear grey.” Um, yeah, I do, I told her, marveling at how little she knows even the simple things.
With every failed relationship except the last one, she blamed me for the breakup, even when she had no idea what happened. She thought I should have been less independent and more devoted to the man, and that if I had taken better care of all of them, they wouldn’t have left, as if it was always so simple, always my fault alone, and always that they left. She doesn’t consider leaving a miserable relationship, so she can’t conceive that I would do just that. Funny how you can love someone and not really like them that much.
You know, the thing I’ve noticed about spending so much time alone, never having any conversations of depth with anyone, is that I find when I am with people, I have very little to say. It’s as if in failing to find relationships of the depth I crave, I’ve lost the capacity to have them. I don’t think that’s true, but it sure seems that way sometimes.
I am too much alone. I can be surrounded by people in my job or through the computer, but I am still alone. Blah blah blah all day at work, but nothing is really a meaningful conversation, the kind that nourishes my soul. I speak with people, but our words have no depth, and I am still alone. Of late, I can’t find anyone with whom to have these kinds of conversations. I think though, that this situation has more to do with not knowing how to meet people who have these sorts of conversations.
I saw an amazing movie called The Artist. It was a silent film about a silent film actor and what becomes of him when talkies take over. It was utterly brilliant. I could have discussed that film with someone for hours, but there is no one to talk to. I saw another great movie called Hugo with Milla. The two of us had a lot to say, and I loved discussing it with her, but I could have had even deeper conversations about that film as well, but there is no one to talk to.
I read The New Yorker. I devour The New Yorker. It is filled with amazing articles, but I have no one to discuss them with. I have one friend who reads The New Yorker, but he’s married with a small child and he doesn’t have time to discuss things like that with me. None of my other friends have those kinds of conversations, even if they do read the same things I do or see the same kinds of movies. If they do have those kinds of conversations, they certainly aren’t having them with me.
I read a eulogy by Ian McKellan about Christopher Hitchens. It described their last days together, how they dissected films and books, and I felt my insides move with desire for those kinds of conversations, friendships with that kind of depth. But I have no clue how to get them. None. I have thought and thought about it, but I don’t know how. I don’t do the right job. I don’t move in the right circles. I don’t have friends who have those kinds of conversations. I’m starving.
This was supposed to be a writing about being glad I’m not pretending Christmas needs to be with my parents, but it’s gone to a darker place. I feel too sloth-like, too fat, too alone. The intellectual part of my head says This too will pass, but another part, a darker part, thinks This is how it is for you. No one except Milla and Isabel would even notice if you were gone.
Reading back through this, it drifted inperceptibly into self-pity, as if I’m really desperately lonely, but it’s not true. On some level I think I was supposed to feel lonely because it was Christmas, but actually, except for our rushed festivities with one another in the morning, it was just like any other day (we had to rush because Milla had to be at the airport by 11). The only real difference between this day and others was that Milla left and that always causes some melancholy to float through me. Those days always end slightly empty, whether they are Christmas or not. In any case, I’m fine. No self-pity here. I’m going to snuggle my baby and get some rest and tomorrow will be another day.