Tag Archives: loneliness


She sat quietly, steeping in curiosity, counting time on her fingers. One’s dawn was the other’s twilight. Separated by more than time and distance; two ends of the spectrum never to meet, much less collide. One anxiously waiting; the other willing time to slow to an end. Stomping on concrete and rolling over sand, duty and boredom and wonder filled their days. Loved from a distance, separated from a life once known; the closest of strangers poured out their secrets into the wind. They swirled with the currents and intertwined before dissipating; the remains slowly waltzing to the ground. Their lives and dreams and delusions all lay shamelessly, basking on the sweet scented softness of the fresh-cut summer grass. As her eyes closed, his eyes opened; and they found themselves once again alone.

Building a Wall

For a moment they forgot their task. They were swept away in the possibilities of daydreams; forgetting their reality and running hand in hand toward infinite potential. Their eyes danced to a symphony played on the strings of the heart. Their laughter rose into the night and reverberated among the angels. Their fingers shook off their usual chill and warmed themselves in the grasp of each other’s hand. They took turns, leading and following, in a game of coy smiles and glances. They exchanged a kiss, just long enough to be savored but not so long as to satiate. As their heads lay softly on their pillows, a similar smile was fixed on each of their faces. And as their eyelashes rested on their cheeks, their thoughts slipped into slumber and then into dreams, allowing their flirtation to continue to play in the landscape of their imagination. But just as day always greets the night, the sun broke through from behind the curtains and these sweet fantasies were shaken off with the fluttering of awakening lashes. In the bright morning light, hope faded and realism took hold. So each rose and gathered their tools and went back to the task of building their wall.

Arms of the Ocean

I stood at the edge of the water with my bare feet slowly sinking in the soft sand beneath me. With each supple current from the rising tide, I settled deeper and deeper into the earth below. Over my shoulder hung the moon; unashamed, undeniable, whole. Her glow too dim to cast shadows, but bright enough to illuminate my fears. As the moments passed, my breathing aligned with the rhythm of the waves. It felt as if we had become one organism, oscillating in the cool night air, flowing into each other. I was lost in the waves; absent from my thoughts, floating in my memories. My balance had become shaky now that my feet were completely covered; one heel resting lower than the other. Without disturbing my base, I slowly sat down on the cold granules numbering greater than my imagination. At first they were rough on my thighs, but as my limbs began to numb in the wind, the sand became supple and comforting like a plush blanket of velvet. A gull flew overhead, crying out into the darkness, but I did not try to locate it. My vision was blurred in the deep purple before me. There was no horizon in the night. There was no end to my sister sea. She wrapped her fingers around me as the chilly air filled my lungs and released me back into the darkness with each breath I exhaled. I was deadened to my sorrow. Nothing remained; no hope, nor sadness, nor fear. All that remained was a void that was meant to be. My eyes grew heavy and I longed for rest, so I leaned back into the cradle of the shore and let the arms of the ocean cover me.

From a Distance

I watch from a distance, but I can’t go back
I offer questions, but the answers are not mine to take
You were not mine, even when you were mine
Now you belong to whomever
Just beyond my reach; close enough to tempt, yet never within my grasp
You are not teasing; you are simply being
It is my own concoction to unravel
I cannot regret as the choices were not mine to make
But I can wonder what might have been
Silly notions and conjecture
Happy endings never to be written
I torture myself voyeuristically
Quietly watching a game in which I will never be a player
Falling, drifting deeper and deeper into adulation
Submerging any chance for hope under the cold waters of despair
If only I could turn my head; if only I would close my eyes
Perhaps you would melt away and your memory would dissipate into the night

Six Years

Six years and I still hear your voice
Booming loud above the noise of the world
Six years and I still hear you humming
Never waiting for the music to start
Six years and I feel your lap beneath me
Stroking my hair and playing with my fingernails
Six years and I still feel the floor vibrate
Rattling the window as you walk down the hall
Six years and you’re still scheming
Another gadget to slip into the house
Six years and it’s time for a jigger
Maybe a finger more
Six years and there’s no one like you
No one to fill your void
Six years and I still miss you
Forever my soul mate, my friend
Six years that feel like a lifetime
Yet only the blink of an eye

Miles Away

The sounds of Johnny Cash float through the empty house, but miles away there are sounds of laughter. Absent-minded chatter and the clink of glass on glass and jokes appreciated before they are even done, all blend together to form the sound of  life. Those are the sounds of home. Whispers behind raised hands dart from mouth to ear as eyes follow targets of lust or loathing. An ice-cube slides down the shaft of an empty glass and lands at the bottom with the slightest little jingle. The tiniest of breezes stirs as she flips her hair and meets his glance. Laughter and squeals and excited revelry spike and settle and blend and jump; each individual exchange joining together to form the collective story. Tears roll down faces as a result of recounted hilarity; reminiscing pranks and folly. A knee is slapped. Another round is ordered. Time is lost. The sounds of comfort and camaraderie float through the night, but miles away her house is empty.

14 Lunches Later

In the summer of 1995, I was walking down a sidewalk in downtown New York City, New York, with some friends. As we passed an ice cream parlor, I noticed an old man sitting alone eating a strawberry ice cream cone. About a block later one of my friends noticed I was crying and asked what was wrong. I told her about the old man. It was so sad to me. I love old men. There is something so venerable about their frail bodies that are hunched over with the weight of a lifetime, their eyes full of history and their wrinkles laced with memories. I decided that night that old men should never have to eat alone. Since then, whenever I see an old man eating by himself, I ask them if I can join them. I have enjoyed the company of fourteen gentlemen since that day.

I met Sid in Union Springs, Alabama. I pumped his gas for him and then we split a pack of cheese crackers. He told me about his grandson, Darius, who was attending Auburn University. He was the first person in Sid’s family to ever go to college. He cried as he told me about him.

Farmer and I ate hot dogs in Bayou la Batre, Alabama. When I asked him how he had made his living, he told me he was a farmer. Before I could smile he said, “What else could I do with a name like Farmer?”

In Paducah, Kentucky, I ate chili cheese fries and drank a strawberry shake with Emmett. He was a retired physician. I asked him how he stayed so young looking. He told me that he always paid attention to nutrition. “I mean look at this meal. We have had all the basic food groups in one sitting!”

In the airport in St. Louis, Missouri, I met Franklin. He told me he had been in love with the same woman for fifty-seven years. “The only real problem with her” he said, “is she is married to my brother.” I told him that he was breaking my heart. “Then I guess we should order a beer,” he replied. We did.

In the airport in Newark, New Jersey, I ate cheeseburgers with Spencer. He was waiting on his grandson to arrive. He was about to meet his great granddaughter for the first time. Her name was Isabelle.

In Jasper, Alabama, I dined with Lexington. He had a twin brother who drowned when they were ten years old. He had chili and I ate a grilled cheese sandwich. It was the anniversary of his brother’s death.

George and I met at Durbin Farms in Clanton, Alabama. He and his wife Delores had been putting up peaches for over forty years. He didn’t think two less peaches would hurt, so we sat together and ate two of the most perfect peaches ever grown. While peach juice dripped from our sticky fingers, he told me about his daughter. She had become addicted to pain killers after a car accident that had taken her husband’s life. She had been addicted for years. She had tried several times to get help, but things were never the same.

Bobby and I met in Soddy-Daisy, Tennessee. His son had been killed in Vietnam. He still had the flag that the army gave him at the funeral. It was on his bed-side table. We ate ham and cheese sandwiches.

Reginald and I ate home made fried chocolate pies at a little gas station in Sand Rock, Alabama. He was a carpenter by trade. When he got married, he made his wife a bed out of cherry as her wedding gift. Two years before we met, he had built her casket.

On the river bank in Augusta, Georgia, I had a liquid lunch of cheap vodka with Sanford. We shared a game of chess and talked politics. He told me about how he learned to read sitting outside the window of the white school house. He beat me badly at chess.

Richard and I ate barbecue at the Smokehouse at the Pineapple/Greenville, Alabama exit on I65. He thought his son was gay, but was too embarrassed to bring it up to him and tell him that he loved him anyway.

Charles, “I just hate the nickname Chuck,” was finishing his meal in Fort Deposit, so I joined him for a slice of ice box lemon pie. He had been a high school football coach. The Hornets were undefeated his last season.

Robert was a “dealer of formerly cherished, fine antiquities.” He had the best junk store in Mentone, Alabama. He found early on, that if you word things just right, that people will pay more for something. “They buy the story just as much as the furniture.”

Jerry was having tomato soup in Leeds, Alabama. I just had a soda. His daughter was married to “a real jackass, but their kids are real cute.”

Fourteen lunches later, I can remember these mens faces. I can remember their stories. They are forever burned in my memory. But the face that I see more clearly than them all is the one that belongs to the story that I never knew. It is the most intriguing one of all – the cutest little man sitting quietly alone on a hot summer night in New York City slowing eating a strawberry ice cream cone. I think if I could have one “do over” in life, I would go back to that street that night, walk into the ice cream parlor and simply ask, “Mind if I join you?”