I have been so lonely lately. Weird, right? I have friends so numerous I can’t count them. I have family less than five hours away. I have a Bela and Nic and Oliver in-house! I talk to my neighbors. I talk to strangers! How the fuck could I be lonely?
I’m not entirely sure. I only know that I am.
Which is the reason I write. The reason I post shit I think is funny. The reason I share pictures of Oliver and Bela and trees. I try to stir up a storm of connection, so that I feel less lonely.
I text people every time I see something that makes me think of them. I so desperately want people to know: you are alive in me.
I go walking a lot to ward off wallowing. Oh? Did you feel sorry for yourself? Look at this bird working its ass off. Look at the squirrels doing their best not to go hungry. Look at ANTS, MOTHERFUCKER. Tiptoeing around, carrying 5,000 TIMES THEIR BODY WEIGHT. Everybody’s busy. Go get busy. Stop thinking about yourself. See if that works.
I have a couple routes for my walks. I know the time they take, that there are sufficient sidewalks (*not a given in this city), and pretty houses to see. I love looking at houses. The places that house our hearts.
But last weekend, I veered off my path. I turned right when I should have gone straight. I just, I don’t know, felt like it. Bela was delighted by the new scents. I enjoyed the new houses. I’d like to believe Oliver was equally pleased.
I walked for a good while and then turned in a direction I thought led to home. I knew I was turned around, a little ‘lost’, but was fairly certain my inner compass would lead me back. Suddenly, Bela yanked her little neck to the left. We’re going this way, she seemed to say. We’ve all seen Homeward Bound. Obviously, I can put my trust in her. So I turned the stroller left and headed the way she demanded.
We didn’t end up at home. My mouth fell open when we happened upon a familiar lawn. Oliver’s daycare. BELA WALKED US TO THE ONE PLACE OLIVER GOES SO SHE AND I CAN BE ALONE! (!)
I was floored. How the hell did I not know I was on the block of his daycare? How did I not recognize these houses!? How did my body not know!?
*Perception is everything, my sweet. You didn’t know you were at his daycare because you didn’t believe yourself to be. And you are lonely, love, because you are not seeing that you are loved.*
I said hello to everyone at the house (scared that they would think I was stalking them on weekends), and then turned myself around. Suck part of figuring out where I was: Knowing I had thirty minutes left to walk in the heat. Silver lining: I know exactly how to arrive home.
We were heading southbound when I saw them. An older couple that walks every day, rain or shine. Their dedication to the act astounds me. Teaches me things about discipline that I haven’t put into practice yet. Warms me. These two don’t just go walking every single day, however. They go walking — EACH. WITH. A HUGE BAGGIE OF DOG BISCUITS in their hands. Each one. They walk around the hood, showering dogs with treats. This is joy-spreading. This is love.
Obviously, I adore them. I’ve seen them since we moved into this neighborhood, though usually from a distance. Sadly, I don’t ever seem to encounter them on our walks. And I walk every day! But there they were — that day.
We approached. They opened up their bags and fished out a treat. Then they fished out a little more. Then set an additional biscuit on the top of the stroller, you, know, for later. (She winked.) We talked for a moment. I told them of our adventure. How Bela had tried to get rid of the baby. How odd I found it that I’d gotten so confused. How much hotter the day was than it had seemed before leaving the house. They wished us well, we the same to them, and we were off.
So imagine my surprise, when, yesterday, I ran into them again. I had veered — again. From my usual paths. And there they were. She crossed the street to us while he stayed still. He’d fallen a couple days ago and needed his cane. You know what he didn’t think he needed, though!? His couch! He was still walking — every day.
As she came towards me, she began shaking her head. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “The other day, I should have sent you to Cathy’s house. She could have given you water. It was too hot. And you still had a way to go. I’ve been thinking about that and I am so sorry. Cathy would have loved to have given you water.”
Had I only known. Had I only known she’d loved me long after we’d walked away, that day. She loved me all the way into this week. Me and my dog and my baby. She’d wanted water for us. We stayed on her mind. We stayed in her heart.
Like water when you think you need it most. An unfamiliar block. Loneliness, thank god, is just a mirage.