Tuesday, December 02, 2008

On looking in and on-looking and other odd feelings

Over the course of a working day, I deal with some fifty people or thereaboutsish (give or take ten or twenty). That sounds like quite a lot and, in fact, is. You might therefore correctly say I have a fairly peopley working life. On the other hand, over the course of the non-working part of my day (or indeed, over a day off work) I deal with about twoish people (give or take one or two). You might therefore correctly say I have a fairly aloney private life. This is mostly no problem whatsoever. I mostly prefer it that way.

However, there are times when I unexpectedly feel very alone and not in the nice way. Oddly enough, reading (other people's) blogs has started to trigger this feeling, quite often. I've tried to analyse what goes on there, but the closest I can get is that either it feels like I'm looking in on other people communicating - the outsider, peeping in through a secret window, into the warm glow of a homely hearth, a gathering of friends, blah-blah... or that I'm looking in on other people not communicating, each waving desperately from their own islet of self, notice me, notice me. Sometimes reading my own blog also triggers these feelings. It's too strange and quite emphatically not particularly nice.

There have been places, too, over the course of my life, which have triggered a profound feeling of loneliness. Innocent places really, with ostensibly no reason whatsoever to induce such gloom. A particular cross-road in Wales, for instance, with a house on the corner - a perfectly normal Welsh cottage, two up, two down, windows all on one side, looking at the road from which it's pulled back a few metres, where it's probably sat for a hundred years or thereabouts - made me feel so fully desolate I could have wailed every time I drove past it - but only at night, when the lights were on indoors. During the daylight hours it was just an ordinary cottage, and I'd mock myself for having felt so strange about it - only to feel the same desolation when next driving past it in the dark. Doubly strange as I usually totally delight in looking in through other people's lit windows (sorry everyone). And there was a graveyard in Hawai'i (and I normally like - no, love - graveyards - the older the better. This has been the case from early childhood onwards, when I'd want to go for a walk in the graveyard whenever I was visiting another town - and I used to have the most debilitating fear of death, too) which made me feel so profoundly lonely, like there could be nothing quite as lonely as dying there and my body, my poor dead body being buried there, on that sea-front cliff-top graveyard with no proper gravestones and the wrong kind of flowers - anthuriums, other other-worldly weirdities, too big, too garish in colour, just too-too, and looking endlessly over the endless expanse of the Pacific, towards the North Pole some fucking thousands of miles away, all dead and too far away.

And please don't tell me I wouldn't have minded, as I would have been dead. I know that. I also know I would most certainly have become a frightfully restless ghost. At least if (and indeed, when) I die and get buried here, in the loneliness of what my bones are made of, I can just remain dead.

On that high note I am off for my last cigarette. Of the night, you understand. It's late and I need to sleep. See you tomorrow.


Reading the Signs said...

What a post. Just lovely. Real words. Substance. Mwah.

LottieP said...

Hawaii's a surprisingly desolate place. I'm not surprised you had those feelings there.

Really liked this post.


Anna MR said...

Why thank you, Signs, for your encouraging words - they mean a lot, as you can well imagine, stuck as I am in the cesspit of daily blogging. Although I did seem to lose my grip on the slippery surface of nothing really rather quickly, don't you find? Waffling on instead about quite clearly something or another - or lots of them. Yet nothing is quite as compelling as nothing. "Oh my little nothing, pretty little nothing" -as Mother Goose the Poet notably wrote. Ahem. And mwah-mwehs right back atcha.

Anna MR said...

Lovely Lottie, hei - ah yes, did I read something about you visiting Hawai'i not so long ago? It's strange, I just couldn't find Paradise there at all, and am pretty relieved that you felt the (surprising) desolation in the air there. Wonder why on Earth that should be? And would it eventually open up and let one in (Paradise, that is), if one stayed there long enough?

I'm thinking maybe we could sense the rapedness of the place. You know what I mean? It felt a little bit like there was so little of the original left. I would admire something - a species of tree, for instance, which would grow incredibly tall and handsome, with a fairy-tale-gnarly trunk, bearing huge clusters of big red blossoms - only to find out it was a total pest and fought hard against by the local officials (this case was real, it is the African tulip tree). So much stuff brought there - plants, creatures, people - and the endemic species killed off or squished into a corner, and and. I don't know. I thought me feeling the desolation was just a manifestation of my own painfully-cherished outsideriness - but if you felt it too, to your surprise, maybe there is a bitterness of loss in the atmosphere of the islands.

I am talking total tripe. It comes to me naturally, it seems. Very happy you liked the post, though (thank you) - and thank you also for the desolation-specimen you bring with you. Just chronically sad.