This fiction is a response to Daily Post’s weekly writing challenge.
Loneliness is an interesting feeling. It’s like drug. Well, I know it would be quite inappropriate to compare loneliness to drug, but just think about it, drug and loneliness are surprisingly alike in the way they affect us: we have heard bad things about it (movies and music helps a lot in raising awareness!), we try to stay away from it by blending ourselves into crowds and trying to fit in, then boom, in the very moment of weakness, it attacks us. It hurts at first, but then gradually we are consuming it as much as it is consuming us, and we find ourselves addicted to the sting of loneliness. When it is gone, we thank God that we have survived the hard time, yet we secretly wish to “taste” it again. Welcome to the world of loneliness recovering addicts!
This is the story of how I discovered the above truth about loneliness. Before then, I’d had a weird liking towards being alone all the time. OK, not all the time, but even when I’m with friends, I would love to drop some topic onto the table, and sit there watching them talk, enjoying the pleasure of being the queen of manipulation. Then, one day I woke up; the first thing I did was reaching for my phone to check Facebook, Gmail, WordPress, Twitter, LinkedIn, you name it. Suddenly I did not see the point of doing all these stuffs. How in the world could I tell I feel connected, when at the moment I was alone in the room, hearing no human voice, yet I felt so nervous about something that might have come up if I did not check my social networks? That was ridiculous. Nothing would really happen even if I stopped using Facebook. That was just the over-communication sickness we are suffering from in this digital era. So that morning, I decided to take a test: I would seek for loneliness, stay there, and see if the world would fall apart without me on Facebook. Or better, (well, the world clearly doesn’t need me that much) if I would fall apart without the string that connected me to the other side of my room’s wall.
I turned off my phone and unplugged my Internet modem. I cleaned up my room, then arranged everything possible until my room looked exactly the same as before I rearranged it, all just for the purpose of clearing my mind from the thought “What is happening to people?”. Then I took out my camera, walked to the park and started taking photos of old couples holding hands. They leered at me with the words “Go away” written on their face, as I was smiling (sincerely and creepily maybe) at them. What a peaceful day!
I came home overwhelmed with joy. Interacting with real people and staying away from all the noises, like, friends’ updates about their new job, new clothes, or even new meals, was awesome. Now it was time to get back in the saddle. I turned my phone on again. There was no missed call. No message. No Facebook notification or new tweet. See, the world is totally OK. Without me. That’s good news.
But I felt like a heel.
Same things happened in three days. No phone call. Nothing. No one really cared that I had been disappearing for more than three days (online). No one thought of me during the day to pick up the phone, or send a message. First, it was just a game, and I decided for myself to be alone. Now I’m really alone. And worse, I’m lonely.
Only then did I feel the loneliness penetrating through my skin and swallowing my mood. I felt deserted. I felt like I could cry. And I did, for no reason. I just let tears streaming down my face, imagining I was in a movie, which led my thinking spreading from books I read to music I listen to, from my childhood days to pains of growing up. I was playing Radiohead in the room, and as Last Flowers was on, I sang along Thom Yorke:
“I can’t face the evening straight
You can’t offer me escape”
Then I started writing. I wrote down the silly random thoughts I was having on my mind. I grabbed my guitar covered in dust and played a random rhythm. Then I wrote the lyrics to it. There, a silly song was born in the moment of loneliness. Oh so heartbreaking.
I kept that routine on until the end of that week. For four days straight, my phone was off and my social pages were left unvisited, but I did not even care anymore. Somehow I learned to take advantage of loneliness: music saved me, and thinking saved me. After all, “time you enjoy wasting is not wasted”. I was just dating myself for a whole week.
On the eighth day, I woke up, turning on my phone. I curled my hair and chose my favorite dress for the day, and decided to end my one bizarre week-of-solitude with a nice lunch at Pizza Hut. One missed call from 2am. My best friend must have realized I’d kidnapped myself, finally. She was calling again.
“Hello. You called me?”
“Yeah. What’s up with you? I think you’re busy or something, but you’re not on Facebook for like a week. Something’s wrong?”
“No. I’m fine. How’s there?”
“All fine. Tell me the truth. International call is expensive, so make it count!”
“Nothing. Just spending some time thinking.”
“You quit that job? Still want that career change?”
“You’re crazy. But I love you.”
“OK. So that’s it. You got what you want to know.”
“Take care, dear.”
Loneliness is an interesting feeling. It’s terrible, yet it’s addictive. And it’s necessary, at least for me. While I constantly reach out for sense of belonging, I still keep a warm shell to retreat back into when I just feel like it. On the other hand, even when I shut the door between my inner and outer world, and drown myself deep into solitude, what I really wish is always someone to come find me and throw me out to the world. I just need that; and I think we all need that. We need space to think and be creative, but still we long for a hand to touch and hold. That’s just so true, and so human.