Friday, December 26, 2008

Lonliness Ends

Someone on a message board threatened to commit suicide because he was so alone. I wrote a response to him and got a lot of positive email about it. I really just tried to write what I wish someone had said to me back when I was 22, single and convinced I would be alone forever. As it turned out, the suicidal guy requested that the posts be removed, so the moderator deleted them. That's fine. I hope he's getting the help he needs.

In case it helps someone else, here's what I wrote:

I was alone for decades, and I learned something really important. I'm not going to tell you "you can be happy alone." I think some people can and some people can't. I feel in my bones that I'm meant to be coupled. That's just who I am. And (too bad for me) I don't couple easily. I'm not one of those people who is happy being with just about anyone. So I NEED to be coupled and I'm also INCREDIBLY PICKY about who I'm coupled with (added to which, women have never been lined up around the block).

So what have I learned? I've learned that though loneliness is agonizing, being in a good relationship IS WORTH WAITING FOR NO MATTER HOW LONG YOU HAVE TO WAIT. I'm so glad I didn't do something stupid when I was in my twenties and miserable. And I might have, even if a fortune teller had convinced me I'd be happily married in my 40s. Back then, I might have said, "Fuck that. I want to be in a relationship NOW!"

If -- God forbid -- my marriage ended and I found myself alone again. And if I didn't find anyone else to be with until I was 70, I know now it would STILL be worth it. Love at 70 is still LOVE. In other words, if that fortune teller came to me now and said, "Sorry, your marriage will end in two months and you won't find another partner for thirty years," I would wait out the 30 years. They would be worth enduring. Not that I'd just endure them. I'd thrive as best as I could. But my point is that love doesn't have to happen NOW to be worth waiting for.

So while you're alone, work on yourself. Become an interesting person. Become a kind person. You WILL find a companion. The odds are in your favor, even if you're ugly, even if you're not super-confident. The odds may not favor you finding someone tomorrow. The odds may favor you finding someone in five years, ten years, fifteen years or whenever. But it will happen. And when it does, it will be sweet.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Top Ten Insane Things I Did Most Days In 2008:

1. spent twenty minutes reading, trying to ignore the tiny scrap of paper on the floor, the crumb on the table or the blinking light on modem, until my head felt like it was going to explode, and I realized I'd read the same three words over and over. Finally I got up and picked up the paper or crumb -- or moved the modem to face the wall.

2. watched my wife throw a tissue in the toilet that she'd just used to wipe off some lipstick. Had to flush and wait for the flush to finish so that I wouldn't pee on the toilet paper.

3. double-checked that the front door was locked before going to bed; then went upstairs, got into bed and got under the covers. Couldn't sleep because I kept thinking maybe I only imagined I'd locked the door. Finally couldn't stand it and went downstairs to check the door. Went back upstairs, tried to sleep, once again worried that I hadn't ACTUALLY locked the door...

4. got bent out of shape because someone next to me on the subway was humming really quietly. I could just barely hear it. But I couldn't stop hearing it. I couldn't think about anything else except for the humming. If it's not someone humming, it's someone drumming or shaking his leg. When I was on jury duty recently, I had trouble concentrating because the lady next to me kept shaking her leg.

5. Couldn't sleep because the sheet was rumbled under me. No matter how many times I tried to straighten it, there always seemed to be another rumple. Or I couldn't figure out what to do with one of my arms. How can I now know how to arrange my arm when I'm in bed? I've been sleeping with my arms all my life. Still, I can't figure out how to lay them so they're comfortable.

6. Turned the volume down on the TV because it was too loud. Turned it up because it was too quiet. When it's too quiet, I strain to hear it and that gives me a headache. When it's too loud, it feels like a tumor in my head. But I can't get it just right. Just right seems to be in-between two volume settings that are right next to each other. The remote won't let me set it to in between. It bothers me just as much when I'm not even paying attention -- when my wife's watching. I say, "It's a little mumbly. Can you turn it up? Now it's too load. Can you turn it down?" She sighs.

7. little specks of dust on my iphone screen drive me crazy. I try to wipe them off, but every time I do, rubbing the screen scrolls the text or starts up an application.

8. I can't stop itching. I try to just let the itch itch. I say that no matter what, I won't scratch it. After about three minutes, I feel like I'm going to blow a gasket, so I scratch. Then I get another itch somewhere else. I realize that I'll keep having itches as long as I think about itches. How do I stop thinking about them?

9. I'm watching one of those commercials where there's an extreme close up of someone talking to me about their upset stomach. I feel like they're invading my space. I tell them to back the fuck up. I don't get why they think I care about their heartburn. I don't KNOW them. "I DON'T CARE ABOUT YOU," I scream. "BACK UP!"

10. I lay in bed at night and an image of a spoon comes into my mind. It's bent. I try to mentally straighten it out. It won't straighten. This bothers me. It's an imaginary spoon, and I'm the one imagining it. I should be able to straighten it out. But it won't straighten. So I try to put it out of my mind. But I can't stop seeing the bent spoon.