Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today,
I wish, I wish he'd go away...
When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn't see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don't you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don't slam the door...
Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn't there,
He wasn't there again today
Oh, how I wish he'd go away…
- Antigonish, Hughes Mearns
I'll go months and months feeling fine on my own, without a need for a man or romantic companionship of any kind. And then something snaps in me and I voraciously consume whatever affection I can get from man after man, sometimes for weeks on end. It seems natural that these hedonistic downward spirals are caused by loneliness, and a desire for connection. And they are, to some extent. A kind of distraction. But they are not a distraction from emptiness, or from the feeling of being alone. Not at all. They are an attempt to mask the pain of the absence of the very real presence of an unknown person.
Let me attempt to explain: I don't know his name, or his face, but I know him. And his absence, despite his formlessness, is the excruciating pain that I attempt to block out. I know on some visceral level that I am meant to be with this as yet-unmet person, to belong to him. And I feel isolated, exiled, to not be permitted yet in his presence. And because he's unknown to me at this moment, it's an impossible feeling for me to amend. And so, I do any manner of self-destructive thing, to blot out the hurt of missing that far-off man.
In some ways it would be easier to feel simply alone. Loneliness is easily addressed in a variety of fashions - when you are lonely for no one in particular, any company can be sought and enjoyed. The problem is, for me, there is only this specific company that will do to soothe the ache that I have - and how to obtain this remedy is still unknown to me. Yes, in some ways to be alone would cause much less pain and a variety of individuals can fill up that kind of a void. But to be abandoned by a heart you haven't met - well that's a peculiar, inoperable kind of pain. The only way to soften the ache is to hope that the face that is still hazy will become clear, a name brought about from the silence, a long-held love finally consummated. That, or to forget him altogether and revel in the relative abundance brought about by confirmed solitude.