Lonely Now

Yesterday I went to the suburbs, to the kind of the neighborhood where Christmas tree lights glow in living room windows and dogs romp around in the front yard. I took in the scattering piles of leaves (someone must have raked but never bagged), the standard-issue garbage cans and now-requisite recycling bins, waiting by the curb. And instead of thinking hello, I’m Hannah, I thought: hello, I’m homesick. Hello, I’m Hannah, and I’m so homesick I could cry.

Let’s try that again. Hello, I’m Hannah, and I’m too old to be feeling this way. Thank you so much for having me. I hope you like champagne. What can I do to help?

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The driveway is an Audi too short. Mom wears an apron, smells like vanilla. Dad — Dad wears loafers, waves from the window.

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It was the same but different. My first Thanksgiving without my wacko family inside, arguing over whose glass is whose. Subbing seating cards and prepping guests to pointedly ignore that particular uncle. Duking it out to see who has to dote on Grandma and cursing whoever spilled red wine on the fancy linen. And forgot to put a trivet down, neglected to take their boots off, and left with a tall enough tower of Tupperware to say SERIOUSLY?? Or think it, anyway.

It was overbearing and intimate, loud and warm, good-natured and good gracious. And just a little bit sad, sometimes. It was honest. There was a lot of WHAT? WHAT DID YOU SAY?? And Holy Moly, Jeez Louise. And nicknames approximately two people on the planet could get away with.

It wasn’t perfect. The dogs got some of the shoes. The closet never saw a single coat. The tablecloth wasn’t quite long enough. The table on the end had a tilt. The CD skipped. The pie was a little toasty. The dishes did not end. The deck of cards was down an ace. It wasn’t perfect, but can you see how it was?

I had seconds of sweet potato soufflé and took comfort in a warm puppy belly against my palm. Played “Oh Hell” with an adorable old man in gray sweats and a few tricks still up his sleeve. At one point I looked up to see one of the older couples swaying softly together, dancing around the butcher block island. I saw two sisters slapping dishtowels back and forth, and everyone else eating whipped cream out of a bowl.

It was so far removed from Pinterest, from Facebook, from Tinder. From all of it.

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I can’t help but wish we still lived in a world where we consulted Grandma, and not Google, re: gravy.

I’ve been writing for months now about how uncomfortably connected I feel. And yet, at the same time, so unbelievably NOT connected. Not connected at all, to the things that matter.

I’ve made little changes: I charge my phone out in the living room now. I purposely leave it behind sometimes. I don’t post on Instagram nearly as often as I once did. I deactivated my Facebook — knowing I’d remain in touch with the people I really want to be in touch with. I made my close friendships closer. I stopped promoting my blog. Started writing just because I love to, need to, want to.

But I still feel like there’s a long way to go, between Lonely, Now, and Surrounded, Someday. There’s sort of a really long way, in the middle there, in the in-between — isn’t there?

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