“When is the appropriate time to disappear? Would it be now? Can I disappear now?”
I have been asking myself this rhetorical question for the greater portion of the last 168 hours when finally, upon the conclusion of another episode of Wilfred, which lately seems to be the Torah of all answers, the response came to me so evidently that I was stunned into no reaction at all.
Of course now is the appropriate time to disappear. What better time could there be? This is exactly what I have been asking for, for who knows how long. Forever it seems.
Now, on the polar opposite end of the world, where I know more or less no one, where I could easily sink into the background and be forgotten, when I have no ties to anyone or anything, no one to text or communicate with (yes, I’m serious) and besides for class and the occasional volunteer work, I have absolutely nothing to do, there really could not be a better time to disappear. Disappear and spend time with myself. It’s been a long, long time.
Yes, it’s scary. It’s horrifying for me, quite honestly. In the last, I don’t know, six years? I have hardly had any time at all being a single person. I am always in a relationship or about to embark onto a new one, but now, there are no signs that accompaniment will be in my near or immediate future. That’s not to say that I’m not interested in such an affiliation; being in a relationship with someone is one of the most special experiences I find one can have. I love being in a relationship; what can I say? I love to love and I love to be loved, like any human being with a heart and a mind and a body. But after making a semi-concerted effort on the other side of the the earth in a tongue not native to me (and I mean that figuratively, not literally) and failing (in my own eyes) rather sadly and miserably (again, this has never before happened to me in my life), I am completely and utterly alone. The only ties that I have right now are with me.
Which is not necessarily a bad thing. No, not at all. It should be free and refreshing. I can do what I want, when I want to do it. I don’t have to sit by the phone waiting to respond to someone’s incessant texting or impatiently anticipating a call from someone who frankly isn’t interested or doesn’t care to communicate with me, or about me in general. And while tears come to my eyes upon thinking of the unmitigated loneliness I feel more frequently than not recently, I do know in my heart of hearts that this is the best thing – especially for me.
My best friend keeps telling me I’m independent. I have always known this. I have always marched to the beat of my own drum, forever dancing and singing alone, and I used to love it. But I think that I forgot how to be alone, bluntly. So, questioningly and curiously as always, I asked her, “Hey, question. What makes me independent? Like you always say it and you’re right but what makes me different from the non-independents?” And she contested, “So like I know you love companionship as relationships and it’s tough for you just like anyone when there are complications. But you really enjoy time to yourself and not having to worry about someone else or them worry about you. Similar to my sister. She loves her boyfriend but she’s ok with leaving someone … to travel and do things for [her].”
My best friend sometimes knows me better than I do, and I love her for that. It’s really true that sometimes you simply need a brief reminder as to who you are and what you are doing and that it is ok and you will not be forgotten in the process. And the people who forget you are, fortunately or unfortunately, not meant to be a part of your life. And the people who have no desire to be in your life, don’t deserve to be a part of it.
For example, in previous relationships, and this may have been self-imposed, I have always been myself – but not fully. I for some inexplicable reason always feel restricted in some form as to who I really am. For the past few years now, I felt like I couldn’t sing for example – one of my favorite activities – or tweet or write about whichever thing. No one told me “no,” (explicitly, anyways) but that is just how I felt – and I’m a big believer in gut and natural instincts. But I’m also a big believer in love, and I guess I try to almost force it occasionally. I shouldn’t do that.
These are the learning points however. Now I am learning again to be myself; to be myself, alone. I have a trip planned completely solitarily thousands of miles from my current home in Santiago, Chile to Easter Island: a location so distant that could not possibly be more remote. I now feel, for the majority, like I can tweet and write about the topics I would like to without the prior restriction (self-appointed or not). This whole week, I sang. Out loud. It feels so good to stretch out my lungs. It really is like breathing again – literally it is breathing again. It has been so long.
Self-expression and knowledge is of vital importance; to the same extent is self-love. Not that I have really had any issues with that; those bridges were crossed by boats and cars and trains and planes long ago. I really do love myself and I don’t see the shame in admitting that. But sometimes when you are in constant ties with someone else, it is easy to forget about yourself. And I don’t want to forget about myself; I love me. As I recently read in Octavio Paz’s La Llama Doble: “No hay amor sin libertad femenina”; There is no love without feminine liberty. I believe that to be true. I have to be free right now, or as far as all the signs in my life right now are concerned, I should be free right now.
I am trying to relish the opportunity to be the single, independent person I have always dreamed of being. I have looked forward to living alone for so long. I have looked forward to enjoying my schoolwork and work work forever. I have dreamed of doing things for me and just me as long as I can remember. I have wanted to travel alone. I like to watch tv and movies and laugh and not feel confined in my laughter. I want to be able to browse aimlessly on the internet if I so desire without judgement. I want to sing without being corrected and I want to dance without being told I can’t. I want to write boundlessly without fetters or tethers. I would love to be able to pick up the library of books waiting on my nightstand for years. I want to go to museums and experience my local culture and take myself out to eat and if no one wants to join me, then so be it. I feel like I have so much catch up work to do. Everything is and has been staring me in the face and I just had to take the second to grasp it.
In my youth of course, by the way; I am always going to have the dreams of that marriage that you have with the most incredible person forever and ever and a fleet of beautiful bilingual curly-headed children and maybe some dogs in this big house full of love and smiles and happiness and family… and so forth. I know that now is not yet the time for that though. At the end of the day, I forget how young I am. I am 20.
It is so hard to remember when I am the constant therapist for everyone I know, and my family members three times my age come to me for advice. My aunt actually told me one time, “I’m so sorry honey; I forgot you weren’t 50,” after a particularly intense session of venting. Not that I mind really; I love it. I love being able to help others through their life journeys as it is so wonderful to see others navigate the waters and mountains – and every opportunity to help someone else always presents me with reminders of how to lead my own life. I know I’m in the right career path. I’m just putting it all on hold for a bit while I spend some time with me.
And to that extent, I am also learning patience. I latterly and embarrassingly enough put a great deal of effort into a desired relationship that didn’t seem to be working out. It could be in part because on the expectations I had that I never should have had or because of the conclusions I leaped to unjustly and without warrant or because there are factors in his life that I am blindly unaware of or because it just wasn’t in my cards. You can’t force things and you need to be patient with or without whatever life brings you. I am learning that it is ok to make yourself vulnerable and that it is ok to get hurt and that life will go on even if you are alone. Also, there is a difference between your diary and the internet, which is something I thought I already knew but apparently did not, and that if the opportunity presents itself, you should always apologize when you’re wrong or made a mistake or have a general sentiment of “sorry,” and that even if the person to whom you feel you owe the apology doesn’t respond to you, it’s ok. You said how you felt, you were honest and transparent, and according to Wilfred, Mother Teresa would thus be proud.
Santiago has rapidly and suddenly become my Bali, and saved me a lot of time in flights, not to mention money — although of course I will still be going to Bali … eventually. I’ll get there.
But in the meantime, I will be amongst what has become my favorite city in the world (sorry DC) between the Andes, the Pacific, Antarctica, and the desert in my makeshift island of solitude.