I think people really want to love one another. I think that’s all we really want to do. It’s what the good people want, anyway – the ones you want to hang out with – not the psychopaths or corrupt politicians.
It’s a great, lifelong struggle, though. It’s hard to love people. People that aren’t your family – people you haven’t lived with your entire life. It’s hard to get to know someone to such a great extent that you feel like you know them, that you can trust them. It might take months or years before you can love a person. Or, maybe you just can’t love a particular someone. That stuff happens, too. It just doesn’t work out – you don’t get along well enough, your personalities clash, you don’t think the same things are funny, your world views are too different, you like different music – whatever.
How much do you have to know about a person before you can love them? In any sort of relationship – friends, in-laws, romantic partners. Can you ever understand a person enough to love them? Won’t they always be able to surprise you, to hurt you? Do we even understand ourselves? Maybe not. Maybe you don’t understand why you didn’t laugh at the cute Starbucks barista’s joke even when you thought it was funny. Maybe you don’t know why you averted your eyes when that black-haired girl was looking at you in the hall.
Maybe you don’t really have to know a person to such a great extent in order to love them – maybe you just need some level of basic understanding, some I-get-you.
Yet, how do you come to love people – come to understand them – when they are so far away? There is such a great divide between people. It’s hard to bridge that gap. It’s hard to be brave or foolish enough to do it. And yet, it’s so easy. It’s so easy to ask someone how their day is going – it’s even easier to simply make eye contact and smile. It’s easy even to walk up to a stranger and ask them if they’d like to have coffee with you sometime.
Why is it that what we want most is to love each other – to understand, to support, to be happy together – and yet it is the hardest thing to do, and the easiest? Is it all really so complicated? Have we just made it complicated? Why?
We are all interesting, unique people, with dreams and plans, things that inspire us, things that motivate us, things that make us cry. We are all so together here on this planet, and so alone.
Did you ask her, too? Did you go up to random people on the street and ask them to save you? Did she say no? Did they shake their heads or hand you small bills, hoping either way that you’d leave them be?
I can’t picture what the view must be like from inside your head. Usually I’m good at doing that. It all just looks blurry and gray from over here. Maybe that’s what you’re seeing.
I don’t know what to think anymore. Maybe we all just need a break. All of us. If we all agree to wait a day, to skip one 24-hour section, and just sleep, or do something nice, would that fix it? Call it a cease-fire of life.
What do you think? That’s all I really want to ask you. That’s all that really matters, isn’t it? No, I don’t really think that. I don’t even agree with you. I just shake my head and wish you’d leave me be.
We’re all just floating on by, down the river. There’s a waterfall at the end, just like in all the dramatic movies you’ve ever seen with a river in them. We’re all going to fall, one day. Maybe more than once. Maybe at the end it will feel like falling.
I wish somebody would save me. I’m really not all that brave or sure of anything. I act like it, though. I’m afraid to be afraid. I won’t be. I’d rather be able to do it on my own. That’s what I’ve been trying to do ever since you left me; even before I met you. It’s a process, it’s a journey down this river.
I want to save you, I do. But I don’t even know what that means. And I don’t know you. And I don’t know if you want to be saved. Doesn’t everyone? That waterfall is coming but we’d all rather be with other people when the boat goes down. No one really wants to be alone.
So, remember that one time I wrote about how I never do things alone and that doing things on your own can seem strange, difficult – maybe even impossible? Stuff like going to the movies alone, or out to eat at a restaurant all by yourself?
Being the sort of person who always has other people with me when I go do things, the thought of being alone with myself in public, like, doing things, was a scary thought.
Then, I did it. Twice. No, three times. Well, actually – four times.
This summer, I went to four concerts by myself. Well, that’s an outright lie – once I took a friend along to help me sell “merchandise” (wow, that looks sketchy! I swear, it was T-shirts and CDs – nothing illegal!). Then – the next night – I went to the same concert in a different city (this time actually alone) and sold “merch”, again. But, here’s the reason I don’t really count this experience as being “alone” – because I had done it before, and was, technically, meeting someone there – the guy I was going to sell stuff for. I had an agenda. I wasn’t really going alone.
It all happened about a month later, in late July. Twice.
So, remember that one time I wrote about Father John Misty? Yeah, me too! Well, that musical discovery led me to the additional discovery that Father John himself was going to perform a show in Michigan. My hometown! (state. My homestate?) I had to go!
Only – none of my friends liked Father John Misty! None of my friends really knew about Father John Misty. Same went for my family. No one cared! No one wanted to go to Pontiac, Mi with me! Nooooo!
So, I decided not to care about whether someone else could go. I could go! So, I would! And, so, I did.
Going to a concert alone was basically everything I expected it to be. As I considered myself a concert pro after attending two-in-one-weekend a month earlier, I knew some moments could get awkward. Oh, and they did! Think: standing in the middle of a room surrounded by groups of friends, staring blank-faced towards the stage, waiting almost two hours for the show to start. I stood. I stared. I swayed (not to any music, just from foot-weariness). I was most definitely alone. I did, however, find a companion in the crowd who was there with her parents (so, kind of alone), and we struck up a conversation. See, this is how it’s done! Being alone! You meet people! It’s great!
Father John Misty was just fantastic. A true musician and performer. He danced! He played the tambourine! He danced while playing the tambourine.
He was beautiful, and tall, and his voice was beautiful, and the band was beautiful, and the music, too, was beautiful. I stood, and stared, and swayed (this time to the music!). The crowd was really into it. I was alone, but it didn’t matter.
After his set, the headlining band came out to play. Youth Lagoon. I had never heard of them. Neither had my new there-with-her-parents friend.
They took a long time to get set up. I thought about leaving. FJM was done, and I was alone standing with groups of friends again – should I just go home?
No, I decided. I would stay. It had already been awkward. I had already stood there alone for 4 hours. Bring it, clock. I was waiting for Youth Lagoon, gosh dang it. Whoever they were.
Thirty minutes later, a short, skinny, bushy-haired boy came out from backstage and sat down at the newly-placed piano. He looked sort of like young Bob Dylan. He sang sort of like young Bob Dylan. He was freaking good. It was freaking weird music. It was freaking fantastic. I was freaking alone and it didn’t matter.
It didn’t matter because that music made us all into a single-brained creature. It was like jamming in a garage with a guy with a guitar. He sang, and rocked out on his piano for long periods of time. He just played.
We swayed. There was head bobbing. Everything became that boy on his piano. There wasn’t a crowd. There weren’t people. There was loud, strange, flowing music. I wasn’t alone; I was no longer there.
The next night, I did it again – went to a concert alone. A different concert, this time. I went to Detroit, Mi (to the coolest concert venue ever, Saint Andrew’s) to see this kid named George “Watsky“. He’s from Youtube. He’s a poet/rapper/awesome person.
His show was so different from the Father John Misty show. First off, the crowd was totally different. At FJM and Youth Lagoon’s show, there were young, hippy sort of kids. Clean cut, pop-drinkers. At George’s show – more young kids. Younger, I think. A lot more males. A lot more baseball caps on backward. A lot more head-bopping and fist-waving. It was cool, though. If a little crowded (we were in the basement!). Also, there was a minute there when I thought I was going to die. (No biggie.) Can you say, everybody in this already-sardine-can of a room rush to the front of the stage as fast as possible? Me, I clung onto a ceiling-support beam and allowed the mass of people to surge by.
It’s really hard to feel alone when there is a human stampede happening all around you.
While these alone-adventures were scary, they were also really rewarding. I felt proud of myself for stepping outside of my comfort zone, and for proving to myself that I really didn’t need other people to go out into the world and do and see cool things.
More and more, I’m realizing that doing things you are afraid of moves you closer and closer to the person you dream of becoming.
So, who do you want to be? Are you good at being alone?
I may be going to the movies this week. Alone. (“what?!”, you say.)
My school’s having this free-movie-ticket day/party, and the one friend I usually go to these types of things with can’t go/I’m getting tired of going to these things with my one friend. (It’s sort of like in high school, when the teacher goes, “you can pick your partner to work with today!” and you turn to that one friend over and over again and just nod.)
Free movie tickets! The best things in life! I am so not passing this up. But, at the same time, I feel like it’s considered “weird” or “strange” to go to the movies alone. Who goes to movies alone? (“Hey, group of friends, look at that sad, lonely person sitting by themselves and eating popcorn with no one to share it with! What?!”)
In the same vein, it’s “weird”, maybe even weirder, to go to a restaurant alone. Why, though? Are restaurants strictly “social” places these days? Like clubs, or, um, golf courses? You just go there to eat stuff, yeah? And it’s not so weird to eat alone at, say, Taco Bell(? Where do you people eat these days?)
Another thing I’ve noticed: Cool people eat alone. I follow authors on the Twitter and they’re always going on about “oh going out to eat now for a bite of lunch where shall I sit since I am going alone?” (Not an actual Tweet.) When I read that, I don’t think it’s weird, what they’re doing. I admire them! Because it feels weird to do “alone” things that are meant to be “social” things, according to society (and that annoying group of friends that always sits behind you everywhere you go, including this website. Don’t look over your shoulder, b.t.w.).
If they can do it, so can I. Right? (So can you!) Being alone at the movies seems easier than dining alone, anyway. Once the movie starts, you become one with the staring, gaping, popcorn-popping crowd. (That feeling is awesome, b.t.w.)
Wow. So much b.t.w. is happening in this post. Should I stop typing now? Probably. But I’ll never do that!
Ok, so, I’m going to do this! (Maybe. There aren’t any good movies out, anyway, are there?) I’m pro at being alone. I need to practice being alone with lots of people around! …
(and, another one ending in the silent ellipses. You’re welcome, internet!)
P.s. Have you seen this fantastic internet video? How To Be Alone: