I’m not really alone.
I have a job, and I think people like me (for the most part) at my job.
I have family, not too far away, right here in Indianapolis – and I have family, further away, I can visit.
I don’t have a ton of friends in Indianapolis (since I just moved here a few months ago), but I am slowly making a few and attempting to maintain the others – despite distance in time, space, and perspective.
So, no, I am not really alone …
Not like the homeless man I see, when taking the off-ramp on my way to work, near the intersection with 82nd Street and Keystone Avenue (North Indianapolis). He is alone. Maybe he has some friends, but they are likely in the same place as him – shunned by family or afraid of the normal world. He, like the woman I sometimes see off of New York Avenue, stands each day with a sign that reads:
“Help me, I need money for food.”
Maybe he is just going to use the money to get drunk, to forget his problems for a while.
Maybe the money is really just for wine, beer, whatever alcohol he can buy for the lowest price.
Perhaps he or she or the nameless many do buy a lunch, once in a while, with the money we might or might not give – the alms we so generously provide. Everyone has to eat, and alcoholics and homeless people (both or different) still must eat something, eventually. But it is likely the meal of someone who is never asked – “are you sure that is good for you?”. They just buy what they can, when they can, and stumble a bit further down the road.
But loneliness, in one form or another, is part and parcel of their plight. And as weird as it is, from my standpoint in “normal America”, I see much that I have in common with these vagabonds of despair – these flashing lights of reality piercing the veil of denial, “America, land of opportunity”.
Yes – I am not really alone, not even close to being as alone as I would be if I were a homeless wanderer. But I feel alone most days, mainly because one of the following is true:
- I am insane.
- I am not insane.
I see the world differently than most of the people I know these days and the differences are increasing daily. Arguably, one of the reasons why my ex-wife asked for the divorce is quite literally the truth of what she told me during that first week of our separation a year ago, “we were happy once, I don’t know you, you are different”. But that was not the whole truth.
One of the first arguments we (I and my ex) had was over “how much of the world” she enjoyed talking about. It was late 2000, just before the “hanging-chad” election, and I was talking about the world, as I saw it. I never claimed to know the whole truth, I just thought a girl-friend (which she was at the time) could listen, courageously, and disagree with grace and understanding – as I attempt to do. But instead she snapped at me, asked me to change the topic, and I learned that there were “forbidden topics” and I was smart not to bring them up. So I swallowed my perspective.
Another time, that same year, I confided in her that I thought the election “schemes” were so corrupt that choosing “not to vote” was simply a valid choice – especially if you despised the 2 candidates involved. I despised Gore, I despised Bush – either would have sucked, possibly for different reasons, but in hindsight I don’t see how things would have been much different with Gore.
This angered her, so I never really talked about that “topic” much again – not until the years of 2009-2013, the last years of our relationship, when my stomach had become full and I could swallow no more of our nations’s imperial, statist, bull-shit.
She was not special – others in my life, pretty much my whole family (with only 1 exception), have preferred I not speak much. And, if I do talk, they prefer me to be “funny Dan”, “happy Dan”, the “Dan who can make us feel OK about stuff”. Yes, it is true that under the influence of whiskey/wine, there is more room with some of my siblings for “frank talk”, but it really does suck to know that family can only be real with you if drunk.
Friends have mostly been no different. To keep them, I self-edit more than they realize (and probably less than they would desire).
Colleagues, friends, neighbors, strangers – as long as they are members of that vanishing “middle class”, they would all like me to be quiet and pretend like them.
Pretend the food is not getting worse and more expensive.
Pretend that your “home” can be your “retirement”, and in more than just the morbid sense of a dog crawling underneath the house to die.
Pretend that America has not become a 2-bit tyranny, with the illusion of “choice” thrown over it – this or that, him or her, GOP or Democrat.
Pretend that “Peak Oil” is a crack-pot theory, as we boil tar in Canada, “break big rocks into smaller ones”, and drill holes in the Gulf of Mexico at 7 miles down.
As long as I pretend, I have friends to drink with.
As long as I pretend, I have colleagues and co-workers happy with me.
As long as I pretend, I have churches of worship to choose from.
As long as I lie to myself, my God, and my countrymen, I can partake in the last supper of America’s middle class.
But, as I learned from an early age, it is difficult for me to pretend.
So, I can be in a crowd.
I can be at work.
I can be tweeting and talking and having a beer.
But I am alone.
The only difference between myself, and the homeless guy I see each day on my way to work is this …
I am still 1-3 pay-checks away.
Not that far really …
And then, maybe, I won’t have to pretend.
Who knows – as things keep going the way they are going, we might not be too lonely either, eventually.