Whether or not it’s a blessing or a curse, there have only been two distinct times in my life I have felt what I’d consider to be complete loneliness. The first, being what was somehow nearly two years ago, and the second, where I’m at currently. Up until these two things in my life, I don’t know if I ever knew what it was like to truly experience the bizarre feeling of being surrounded by a crowded population without a single thing to do. Of course, I have my car, I have my phone, I have my money and I have what I enjoyed sitting in my head, but it’s since morphed into what I dreaded: nothing but a thought.
I’m still haunted by the day my friends said their goodbyes to me at my apartment, and headed back to Texas no more than two hours after arriving here. Their feet slowly stopped echoing throughout the staircase, their silence only become more and more deafening by the second. This place I had to call home was not my home – it was nothing but a portrait of my thoughts. I raced to the window to see them walking back out to their car, yet I almost felt ashamed for it because I hid behind a few blinds too embarrassed to have any of my new neighbors think I’m a weirdo.
But still, my friends pulled a U-turn, and before I could even think to cry, they were already out of sight. Nothing was in my new apartment except myself and the damning summer humidity flogging any ability to actually become worthwhile for the day.
Tears flowed, emotions poured. Worries escalated beyond what I can even describe and suddenly this white-walled, squared off section of a mess was suddenly my responsibility to uphold — and it’s one that I failed. There is nothing more depressing, I think, than the fear of knowing that no matter what you do, or what you say, or what you try to uphold will ultimately cave in the end. It’s like some sort of impending cluster of clouds that carry only the most mysterious, most baffling particles.
Yet, despite climbing through to the top of what I assumed was of gaining a ‘regular life’ for the first time since moving, it all came back down acting as a controlled implosion. The top floor falls into the third floor, and the third floor falls into the basement in only a matter of seconds. Windows are blown out, glass is sprayed, splinters speed through the air.
This sky, too, is folding under you, and it’s all over now Baby Blue. (Bob Dylan, 1965.)
I’ve certainly been in plenty of abandoned buildings, but never before had I been apart of the demolition. There wasn’t a joy of tearing it down to clear room for something bigger or better. Instead, it was, and is, me watching the cloud of debris fill the air waiting for a clear sky to form again. Common sense slaps me in the face and says, “Joel, you’re going to see the other side of that cloud soon enough.” But ultimately, I know what rests behind it and unfortunately, I don’t want to take that peak to see the work I’ve assisted with.
It’s in that moment where the rest of planet earth, which spun and carried on by habit, was functioning amidst my crisis. All this silent noise burst into a cataclysm of emptiness, without any real defining characteristic besides disorientation. When I’m reminded that my lazy posture and slumped over stare are meaningless, I correct it and go back on my way like everyone around me does and has.
Ironically, the thing that momentarily pulled me out of this loop of self-sorrow was one question my mom asked me over the phone earlier tonight. The conversation fell quiet and my voice, as raspy and unwilling as it was, didn’t want to speak. She very solemnly asked,
Well, do you have any apartments you’re looking at right now?
I don’t know if it was the change in tone, or the desperation of my heart to say something else to only bring me back down, but my world just fell quiet. All the silent noise shifted into a tour of Chernobyl, with my lack of happiness or joy jumping out the window. It was right then, and only then, I realized how lonely I had once more become..
Sure, I hardly do anything on my off-days as-is, but tonight? Nothing. There’s not a page on the internet that did a decent job of distracting me, nor was there a single second that passed while driving throughout that didn’t push my idiocy out of the way for just a brief moment. I hate it – so much – because I feel like I just walked back into high school as big of a dork as I was when I left it.
Without a moment’s notice, my life became as interesting as an empty plot of land, once again.