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  • J Scott Lane


We push and mold and shape our loneliness into many different forms. I fear what I might bring into this world where i to be left alone in it for too long a time. Now the shape of a childhood friend, now a family, now a sickness counting pocked tiles on the ceiling.

Regardless of the form, the volume and mass of our loneliness never changes, nor does its weight. Some are born with a little, while others bear a tremendous weight - they become poets and die young. Verlaine gripped/caressed/fucked Rimbaud but it didn't last long.

It’s not lonesome’s fault, though, that it doesn’t get lesser or larger in a person’s lifetime. Sure, sometimes it seems like loneliness grows to fill a vista but those are only the times when we’ve leaned in too closely to admire it, feeling it’s satin breath on our eyelashes.

Cities are the loneliest places of all, she told me. It's like you're a shiny tin satellite of planet togetherness, locked in a geosynchronous orbit over it unable to escape unable to get any closer. And you always know your otherness, looking down, watching, listening with antennae you can't shut off.

The color of loneliness isn’t always burnt and over-saturated grays and browns. It can be an alive time, thick with resonance and washed out in tans and pinks and pastels. Hopper knew the hues of loneliness so well that he wasn't even aware of what he was portraying, or revealing of himself, to others. Even in light times I can still feel that darker weight, a gravity well that wants to pull me into itself, become a part of it, absorbed and absolved, a small and invisible component of a city street at three in the morning where the pallid green light slides off the pavement in front of this fishbowl diner. 

Those streets and buildings and lights aren’t ours, we only borrow them for a while, keep them clean or otherwise for whomever comes after. Is this why those that we see spitting with rage on a screen go that way, this realization that nothing is permanent, that hope represented in making even a stuttering, black mark on the canvas might leave a trace for others to see later? Is the right reference frame then the only thing that separates September from Summer? 

If there’s any truth to this then we are better off making our peace with loneliness as best we can. Recognize the individual gift of a golden autumn Elm leaf, a stranger’s or a dog’s open smile. Learn, or re-learn, the art of seeing to enjoin Camus’ absurdity. Learn to love the light and the dim: they need each other. They dance, always together to the same music that the isolated and the conjoined hear, one in a minor key and the other resolved until the next bridge. Music that echoes down the alley, across the backyard, through the shy trees, and out over the moon-spacked waves.

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