About six weeks ago, at the Waterfront Target, I happened to see Lynnie, the sister of Michele, who is the best friend of my ex-fiancée, Anita (anyone for six degrees of Kevin Bacon?). During our conversation, Lynnie mentioned that Michele was working at the wine shop on the other side of the shopping area. Just yesterday, as I was coming home from an appointment with my neurologist, I realized that the bus route home ran very near that wine shop, so I went there to pay Michele a visit.
It was quite nice to see her again, after more than a few years. When I had known her years ago, Michele was the alcoholic's alcoholic, with a list of problems that would stretch from here to the Moon. The Michele with whom I spoke yesterday seemed more at peace with herself. When Lynnie had told me where Michele was working, I must have had a look of concern upon my face, because Lynnie assured me that Michele was doing much better, that she had been off the sauce for years, after it had nearly killed her.
We spoke of Anita. Before we were engaged, Anita had been twice married and twice divorced; the way I understand it, after we had split, Anita had married a third time, to her first husband. This troubled me greatly, because Hubby #1 had been horribly abusive; allegedly, when he was stationed in Germany, his nickname in his Army unit was "Wifebeater" (I won't even begin to comment upon the connotations of the glib assignment of that epithet).
This got me to thinking, and it is a fact well known that when I get to thinking, I am dangerous. I wondered what Anita was seeking; I wondered if she was looking more to alleviate loneliness than to share her life with someone. I wondered about myself; had I been trying to do the same? I was married to Sandra for eight years, I was in a committed relationship with Melody for eleven. Even though I had not been looking for a romantic relationship at the time -- or, at least, this is what I would have myself believe -- I had met Ron on a search for a friend, someone to talk to, someone to help alleviate my own loneliness. Have I also, then, been looking for an animated plush pillow?
Loneliness is not an enjoyable state, but it is possible that it is the state that awaits many of us. Perhaps it is the state that befalls all of us, for as lucky as some may be to have legions of friends, it is only we, ourselves, who are constantly with us, in the end. I need to come to terms with the fact that I will spend most of my life alone, for as much as I am a very public figure, I am a very private person. My world-view differs substantially to the world-views of almost everyone I know; this world-view defines me, this world-view also isolates me. What is most important about this world-view is that I have spent fifty-four years building it, I hold it for no other reason than my ability to justify it, and I cannot modify it for the sake of any person other than myself.
I have earlier written of Homo segregatum, "Isolated Man"; I wonder if H. segregatum is not a subspecies at all. To those who argue that the defining characteristic of Homo sapiens is his ability to think abstractly, to reason, may I offer the putative counterexample of Felis sylvestris catus, the domestic cat. I am had by three, Miranda, Winston, and DC. DC, my youngest, is quite the alpha male, and spends much of his time chasing Winston around my apartment. Many times has Winston, while being chased through the Studio, disappeared around a corner into the kitchen; and many times has DC responded by halting, reversing his direction, and heading around the other entrance to the kitchen in order to head Winston off. That may be habit now, but at some point, DC must have realized that the best way to his prey could be backtracking, a route that would surely be counterintuitive to a creature of lesser intelligence. On the other hand, I know of no social species other than Homo sapiens whose members can live for prolonged periods in emotional isolation. Perhaps, then, H. sapiens is H. segregatum; perhaps evolution has condemned all of us humans to carry the burden of loneliness. If this is the case, then all I can do is learn to deal with it.