This time last year, my lonely found the arms of another lonely. We met under a full moon and after a swipe right. We met until our bodies no longer spoke the same language. We named it ‘love’ or ‘temporary collision’ or ‘just not the right timing.’ He needed space, and I did not want to be alone. But that is how modern love goes. It is until it is no longer.
Now I am sitting with my lonely at a local coffee shop. A faint breeze blows a kiss against the right side of my face. The sun makes her exit at a prompt 5pm and the evening comes dressed in oversized knitted sweaters and strangers looking to hold other strangers for the night. Being a New Yorker in Los Angeles is a love song on repeat. Being this far from home during the holidays is a reminder that we are all a little lonely these days.
I wish I could tell you it was as simple as that—what began as a winter love ended with the stuff poems are made of, but there was more. There was my lonely barely getting out of bed. My body barely eating. My self barely wanting to be alive…
There were many nights of takeout and sleeping on friends’ couches and marathons of The Wayans Brothers. There were calls ignored and poems unwritten. There were memories of me and him frolicking in the snow and watching the fireworks at his Silverlake apartment on New Year’s Eve. There were days I could not detach his name from my body or his touch from my trauma. But that is heartbreak. It is seasonal. It is a winter meeting someone I thought I could love forever. It is the summer it took to let him go.
It is winter again, and somewhere in North Hollywood his name finds its way to my table. But this time I do not fold into the saddest parts of myself. Instead, I download a different app. I talk to my therapist. I find the wound and lean into my healing. I call my lonely over and ask her to tell me a story. How did you get here? What scares you? How do you like to be held?
What is your loneliness? Does it stay up late, have breakfast for dinner, and forget to respond to texts? Is it overwhelmed by the news? Does it make the bed in the morning?
My loneliness is a nearly empty movie theater on a Tuesday afternoon. It is hooking up to dialysis instead of making out with some stranger at a bar. My loneliness knows too much but understands very little—like how to be okay with being lonely.
This past summer I went through one of the worst breakups I have ever experienced. I was suicidal. I seriously considered the nearest exit sign. But I didn’t. I stayed. I stayed for another season, another winter, another reason to know I am worthy of love.
I am learning how to cuff my-damn-self. I am dating my lonely and learning her name. I am not a failure for how things ended. We do not blame the seasons when they end, when they change. We move along, ready to smell the flowers again—despite the condition of the soil, we choose to bloom. And in the meantime, I got myself a kitten. Her name is Jolene “Jojo” Ingram. A furry little reminder of grace. A friend during those lonely nights. A cuddle for the winter.
So ‘tis the cuffing season, my friends. May you swipe right on you. May you hold yourself a little closer.
And remember, I love you. I see you. I am so damn proud of you.