Wednesday, August 7, 2013

The Loud and Lonely Apple

In a city where one is rarely more than 100 Yards (either horizontally or vertically) away from another person, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the potential for human connection. Those connections aren't always easy to make though, and physical proximity is not an antidote for feelings of isolation. New York City is a magnet for those of us who have no interest in an insular lifestyle. We want to be a part of everything and anything. We want to be at the center of the universe. With the exception of enclaves only known by those who grew up here or went to school here or have family here, there is a certain lack of community.

I, who moved away from the state where I spent the first 24 years of my life, who recently lost the most important non-familiar relationship in my life, who has a bit of trouble relaxing around new people, and who frequently has less than $500 in my bank account, am having a hard time finding a consistent emotional center. There's nothing I can point to in New York and think This is my home and these are my people. To flatter myself enormously, I am like a comet that dips in and out of larger entities' gravitational pulls (I'm sorry if this isn't how it works I'm not a fucking scientist) but hasn't hit ground yet. Sooner or later I'm bound to smash into someone's backyard and really fuck up their gardening but for now I'm destined to spend a lot of time out in space counting my craters. It's not a bad ride but it gets tedious.

In Vermont there is nothing but space and being alone feels natural and serene. Loneliness is meditative. In NewYork loneliness feels like a failure. I resent this because the emphasis on narrowly defined "happiness" in American culture is misguided and ultimately the cause of much deeper despair.  Observant, intelligent people should feel lonely sometimes even when they are surrounded by love and support and it shouldn't be some dark secret that no one wants to talk about. But in New York it's hard not to walk outside and think "how fucked up must I be that I don't have 100 new friends by now?".

I ride the 7 train to and from work and as I see the whole Manhattan skyline scroll through the train windows I feel it pressuring me to be shinier and generally better at life than I am. Ultimately I think this is a positive thing. It is part of the reason of why I am here. But when things are going wrong and the only thing that can make them right is time, it's hard to take on the challenge with confidence and enthusiasm.

I'm hardly an expert but I function well enough as a human being that I have to assume that I am not the only one who feels this way. I am not the only one who can't figure out how to get invited to garden parties (seriously someone please invite me to a garden party already) or gallery openings. I actually have almost zero interest in gallery openings but you see the point.  Loneliness is New York City is an anxious affair. If there are others like me though, they probably stop and look around once in a while and notice that while they were busy worrying, they were quietly making it just fine.

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