Some people say “everyone gets lonely”. There are always times when we feel stranded, completely isolated from those surrounding us: abandoned in a crowded room. But then there are times when we are actually alone. When nobody is watching or listening to us. It’s times like these that we reveal our true nature. While I value my solitude and occasionally seek retreats from the world, I prefer an hour with friends to a day by myself.
When I was littler, perhaps seven or eight years old, I followed my friend Chris Frank to the crick behind his house. We were going to a swimming hole with his older sister, Erin (one of my first major crushes, one in a long line -a subject for many other posts). She was a grown up woman, probably fourteen or fifteen, and she traversed the little stream on elegant stilts like a crane, ethereal. In my efforts to keep up with her on my own stunted pegs I paddled through the deep water and scrambled over boulders that, should I return to the spot today, would likely be embarrassingly dwarfed by my puberty.
It wasn’t long before Erin rounded a bend and vanished. I looked behind me and saw that I’d obscured my line of sight of Chris and now I was alone. I slowed to a trudge and carefully waded through the gloomy hallows of the brook. I was up to my neck, surrounded by water skitters and other unspeakable horrors of rural streams. It wasn’t long before I forfeited hope and began to cry, completely, deeply, emitting the kind of unabashed sobs only children are capable of. I felt abandoned. Looking back now I could easily have left the stream and navigated my way home by land, but at the time the banks of the crick composed my world and there was no leaving the only landscape I knew.
That was when I began to chant, pleading with imaginary gods in a creaky voice over and over, “I don’t want to be a lost boy.” This mantra accompanied me step by step as I made my way upstream, following the logic that I had no where to go but forward. After a childhood eternity I heard the rushing sound of cascading water. Almost as soon as I did the sun broke through the gloom and gilded the Frank siblings frolicking in the promised swimming hole. All at once my total loneliness was forgotten and I joined them, splashing with giddy delight bordering on insanity.