First off, there are poems – actually a poem – over at The Blue Hour about boys and basketballs and my June who thinks she’s one tough kitty.
So many thanks to them. Small presses rock.
That covers the poetry part – now to the philosophy part.
I was riding the subway the other day, thinking about a book I want to/sort of am writing. It’s about when I was in high school and I fell off a waterfall cracking my noggin open. But really it’s about the people who I spent my time with then, people who meant the world to me – that even today, still do. And I was stuck with a particular thought:
I’m so incredibly thankful I grew up when I did because now I know how to be alone and still.
Hear me out:
During twilight, in the winter or summer, I used to go on walks with my best friend Dan who lived around the corner. We would walk and talk or sometimes we would walk and not talk. We would go down to the basketball courts in my old neighborhood and lay there, staring up at the stars. We would just be together. But also, alone.
Do you know what I mean? The way you can be with someone but also be by yourself?
So that got me thinking about that time, about being in high school during a time of mix tapes and duct tape that held your bumper on and stealing beers from the garage.
And what it made me think about the most was the quiet. Because we had no cell phones. We had no internet. There was no technology that kept us all together. Now clearly we all know the danger of cyber bullying and the heartbreaking stories like that of Amanda Todd – something that extreme is not even what I’m getting into here. It’s something smaller. Something that might be eating us up slowly.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I feel really lucky to have been in that horribly amazing time before all this “connection.” Because it let me be ALONE.
And there’s a lot to be said about being alone.
About knowing what the crunch of gravel sounds like under your feet in the summer evening.
About laying in your room, alone, making a mix tape for the boy you secretly like.
About just being still.
About knowing that after school – after that horrible fight I had with my friend, after all the horrible things I said and she said – that it’s over. It’s not going to continue in this other world where other people can watch. It’s just me now, and my feelings, alone in my room where I can sort them out and remember that I love her. And she loves me. And now that we can calm down I can see that again.
I just feel really lucky. And not to sound too old or anything but I worry about the kids who are texting and skypeing and tweeting their way through high school. I worry they don’t know how to be alone. That they might not even understand the CONCEPT of alone, truly alone, truly unconnected.
That singular moment when you can feel the blood cells race through your veins.
The realization that you are here, in your room, in this house, on this street, in this town, in this country, on this planet, floating out there in all that dark empty space.
That the chance that you would EVEN exist is minuscule and yet, here you are – alive and still and alone.
Alone is a good thing. And it’s not the same as loneliness. Because I wasn’t lonely. I had friends I would jump off waterfalls for. And I wasn’t afraid of the quiet. Of being with me and only me.
It is its own form of peace. One that we should be careful not to lose.
….And the smoke came out our mouths On all those hooded sweatshirt walks We were a stroke of luck We were a goldmine and they gutted us…
– Conor Obrest