Sunday, March 1, 2009

Alone and Lonely


So I've been alone for just over twenty-four hours, after taking Chris to the ferry late yesterday morning to spend a long weekend in Vancouver (in one of my previous posts, I explain why he's gone).

I'm not good at being alone. I should be, after spending the first thirty-two years of my life essentially alone before I met Chris. My family members weren't especially close, and I didn't have a lot of friends as I grew up, so I know what alone feels like.

And I know I should look forward to when Chris and I are apart, like many other couples do, making full use of the time to myself until we're back together again.

Like Rob and Yvette. When Rob, my friend and financial advisor, took ten weeks several summers ago to kayak around all of Vancouver Island, his wife Yvette couldn't wait for him to leave. With a flip of the hand, she said in her unmistakable way, "Smell ya later," and she meant it. She was thrilled to be on her own for most of the summer, while Rob roughed it along of the vast coastline of Vancouver Island, meeting up with a few kayaker friends at various intervals along the way. Yvette loved her new single life, making bold claims that she would whoop it up while Rob was away. She was committed to make the most of every minute she had away from Rob.

I don't get that. It makes no sense to me why people who are in couples want to be apart. Are they really unhappy in their relationships and look forward those occasions when they can pretend they're not coupled so they can come and go as they damn well please? Do their relationships really stifle them that much? Perhaps they'd be better off alone then. Maybe they're not the marrying kind. Maybe some people are better able to be themselves when they're not coupled. Then why did they get into their relationships in the first place? If they're so damn unhappy, maybe they should be apart. Maybe then they'd see that being single isn't such a great life either. (I don't suggest here that my friends Rob and Yvette would be better off without each other--not in the least).
Anyway, over the past seventeen years Chris and I have been together, we've spent several times apart every year, sometimes for as long as two weeks at a time. And I hated it. Every time. I'm a different person when he's not around. I think too much. I obsess too much. I have too much time on my hands. I don't like who I am. I'm much better off when Chris is with me.

Here's another thing: I hate shopping and cooking for one person. I buy a few red nugget potatoes, a small clump of broccoli, and a tiny cut of meat. They scarcely take up any room in my shopping basket. I take them all home, prepare them, and sit down to eat. In front of me is a plate of food that looks to me like a pathetic little meal for one. It reminds me I'm by myself, and I hate the reminder.

There's no sign of life in the house (I could put on the radio or TV, but it's not the same thing). Everything feels so big and vacuous. Home doesn't feel like home anymore because the warmth and spirit of that other person, who normally helps to fill the space, isn't there. There's only me, and, at the best of times, I'm my own worst enemy (or at least my mind is).

I know I sound pathetic, like some useless tit who can't get along by himself. That may well be true. But if I had the choice to be single or coupled, I'd choose coupled without question. There is nothing like sharing your life with another human being who you love so deeply and so vastly that you can't imagine life without him.

I'm ashamed to say that, as I get older, I begin to think about what life without Chris would be like. What if, God forbid, he left me, or, worse yet, he died, and he no longer existed in the world so I could have even one more chance encounter with him somewhere on the street?Frankly, the thought of that scares the shit out of me. I suppose that's the risk we take when we fall in love with someone else.

I hope I go first. Yet, I hate to say that because, assuming Chris and I were still together at the time I died, and our relationship was really good, he'd be alone after all the years and experiences we shared. And he, who is not always in touch with his feelings, might have a harder time dealing with me going than I would with him gone. At the very least, I hope I would be able to focus on the fact that I'd had the chance to share so many years of my life with such a wonderful human being, and that I wouldn't have given that up for nothing.

All I know is this. I have right now. Right now, as far as I know, Chris is safe in Vancouver, and, God willing, he'll be back home late tomorrow. I can't wait to see him again. We've only been away from each other for one full day, but it already feels like such a long time. I'm anxious for our life together to resume. I miss him so much.

In the meantime, I've included yet another picture of him to remind me of why I love him so much (as if I need the reminder).

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