Loneliness

The following article was written from the heart during a recent class at The Intuitive Writing Project. TIWP and The Intuitive Voice want to know how young people are feeling about the epidemic of mass shootings that are occurring across the country, but most significantly, in their schools. Please share your thoughts with us by commenting below or on our contact page. We would love to hear from you.

By Madison Alvarado, Intuitive Writing Project student

He said that he was looking for “romance, soul mate, conversation, the yin to my yang, dating, penpal, friends only, relationship, miss right.” He then proceeded to write a love letter to his one and only with the blood smeared across the floor by sweaty bodies and beating hearts. Lungs became letters; corpses became commas; brains became body paragraphs; and living, breathing people became faces for another tragedy, their deaths compressed into a plea, a cry for some lost soul to find him and save him from the loneliness.

See, there’s a funny thing about the word lonely. When you spell it out, L-O-N-E-L-Y, the word “one” is trapped between the two L’s, isolating it, imprisoning it, this sad “one” that is a part of the whole but never truly connected with the rest. Lonely is sitting down at a table with your friends, getting shoved to the isolated end chair, and realizing you’re the unwanted one. It’s when you’re home alone, again, and you’ve called everyone in your family but no one’s picking up the phone and you have no idea where they went. It’s looking up at the billions of stars in the vast universe and realizing that everything out there is empty space, and you just inhabit a tiny pocket of air, never to be touched or shared by the warmth of others. It’s standing in a sea of bodies at a football game but none of the people around you care or even notice you’re there. It is all-encompassing. The only thing I can compare it to is sucking the air out of a room and then pumping it full of water because whether you suffocate or drown, it doesn’t matter: both are slow and excruciatingly painful. This is lonely.

And thinking about the man who decided to play God on that day in October because he felt so alone, I’m reminded of a day not too long when I was walking by myself through a residential road in Berkeley to get to Telegraph. As I was strolling along, a voice assaulted me in the street with the soft words: “Can I ask you a question?” Knowing that a young girl walking alone in a city makes an easy target, my stranger-danger alarms were blasting at full volume as I surveyed the unimposing, timid, twenty-something boy that stood before me. Too overstimulated to give a response other than wide eyes, my throat constricted as he rushed on to say “Do you know that you’re incredibly beautiful?” This wasn’t your everyday sleaze hitting on some random woman as she walked along the street; he sounded as though it had taken so much courage to leave his house and approach this foreign figure, voice trembling with every syllable. Here was another person crippled by the fear of rejection and plagued by loneliness. Still, detecting something slightly off about him, I kept walking after a startled “Thank you,” my casual stroll turning into a brisk stride with a glance backwards every few feet to make sure I wasn’t being followed. But returning home a few hours later and recounting the tale to my mom (who responded with “What a creep!”), I found that my feelings had shifted. Although I wouldn’t go back and change what I did, I can’t help but feel a shard of sadness slice through my chest when I think about what made that young man approach me. He, too, had been struck by the blow that is loneliness.

Sifting through more memories, I grab hold of the reminiscences of a home football game a few Fridays ago. A girl who I haven’t talked to in years stumbled up to me in the stands and asked me to go to the bathroom with her. She was obviously on something and needed someone, so I let her grab my hand and guide me down to the bathrooms when I noticed that she had a set of keys in her hand.  

“Please don’t drive home tonight.” As she explained that she was holding the keys for a friend and wasn’t planning on driving anywhere, I slowly decompressed. That is, until she announced: “Who cares anyways. It’s not like anyone here gives a shit about me.” So I tried to tell her that people do care and she was loved. But all she said was that she didn’t deserve love and all of a sudden I was hit with the sad realization that me telling her I care will never be enough, because we only look for love from certain people and we only look for a certain type of love, and if the love we receive doesn’t hit the mark then it’s worthless. And at the end of our melancholy adventure, she abruptly spit out “Thank you for saying you care. Maybe I won’t kill myself tonight.” And then she drifted away into the abyss of bodies in the stands, leaving me with my head spinning and the realization that nothing can save us from the sinister, smiling god that is loneliness.

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