“Boy we both had our own motives/ Never told him/ that mine was to stay alone…”
The words flowed from H.E.R.’s voice through my Bose and I threw up a church hand. How does she know me? I wondered each of the 100 times I played the song. I re-post the lyrics. I yell-sing them in my car.
“And you don’t belong to me/ so you don’t have to let me go…”
I didn’t know I’d be here at 35.
I was 28 when I wrote about a break up: “The word ‘alone’ sat in the forefront of my brain. Glittering. Gleaming. Starting as a seductive whisper and becoming an authoritative scream. I wanted to be alone.”
It made sense then. For the first time in three years, I was living alone; good and employed; in graduate school. Eight-hundred square feet on a quirky city street were the portal to a freedom sweeter than a lover’s kiss. My life was…mine. I wanted to wrap my arms around it and hoard every morsel without interference from anyone outside its walls.
To be honest, I thought it was a phase.
Surely at some point, it would bore me. Surely, before my coupled friends outnumbered my single friends, I’d find some free-spirited, long-distance Mr. Big type I enjoyed more than the sound of no sound at all. Surely, one day I’d find the prospect of intimacy more appealing than burdensome.
By 30, I was hopeful enough to imagine my self with an other. I penned “If You’re Out There” to a nameless faceless dream:
“I will not expect you to be the sole source of my stimulation nor do I want the responsibility of being yours. We will not be each other’s ‘everything’ but there will parts of ourselves we share exclusively with each other.”
Sixty days before my 35th birthday, I’m in my car. Sunroof open. Windows down. Swaying in a summer night breeze. Driving nowhere. Wailing “I’ll be on my waaaaaay/ I’m no good if I staaaaaaaaay…” with a 21-year old R&B singer from the depths of my allegedly grown ass soul. Reliving endings with title-less lovers and men who should have stayed title-less lovers.
At 28, “alone” seduced me. Staring down 35, I am sprung. Delighted by the quiet. Safe in my own arms. Enraptured by my own touch. Increasingly honest with myself about myself. Comfortable even when loneliness makes his short, sporadic visits.
Behind my impenetrable walls, a kingdom of one thrives.
I guess it wasn’t just a phase.