Monday, January 28, 2008

Loneliness

I am lonely. I have friends - people I love passionately - scattered about the place but down here there's no-one I can casually call up to go and see a movie. There's no-one in my life who fully appreciates my particular kind of humour, no-one who is happy to talk about bugs and compost and how best to keep ivy under control. Since we've moved down to Tasmania, almost five years ago now, there have been people we've socialised with but we've found no-one with whom it is easy and funny and no trouble at all.

I am lonely. I don't think that's a sentence uttered aloud very often; there's something shameful about it. As a kid, 'Nigel (no friends)' was one of the really mean names in the arsenal of bullies. As a feminist I'm quite comfortable talking about the ways in which social structures marginalise and alienate mothers but those processes aren't personal, even if they feel that way at times. And the moral indignation at that kind of injustice can carry me through bad days. But there's something pathetic about asking 'Is it me?', thinking that maybe my empty Friday nights (and Saturday nights, and Sunday nights, and Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights) are not because of our stage in life or because it's always hard to meet people when you move to a small town, but because people just don't like me very much. That stings.

The thing I loved most about Canberra was being with my friends. I hung out with people who I hadn't seen for three or so years but as soon as we saw each other the words spilled over without stopping. I was giddy with the conversation. Are Seville oranges frost hardy?, what various ex-boyfriends are doing now, is X about to have a baby?, how to cook a great risotto, curating exhibitions in the War Memorial, the tensions between the childless and parents in workplaces, career prospects in the public service, birth stories, how to run a vineyard, and a hundred and two other topics boring to almost everyone but me and my friends. I loved it.

I miss the ease and fun of those people, but more, I miss the self I am with my friends. That person is witty and never tongue tied, is happy to confide her life and her plans, she doesn't have to pretend to be interested in order to be interesting. Self-absorbed as I am, I love my friends because of who they are, sure, but also because of who I become when I'm with them. They reflect an image of my self that is far more fabulous than I could ever be on my own.

8 comments:

Victoria said...

Somehow I suspect it's not you AT ALL, and it really is your stage in life, and living in a small town. How many people in small town are you really going to find to relate to on a deep level? Not many, or it might take a like time to find them, anyway.

Mrs Listening said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ema nymtonsti said...

Small towns are hard, I think. I moved to my small town about 18 months ago, and I really think being happy with your own company is a skill you need to pack along with the supplies you won't be able to buy. I've made a couple of friends, but it's been slow and hard going, and like you I miss the ease of my established friends, and the easy access to movies and yarn shops.

I'm lonely too, and I know my personality isn't a great match for the other women in this town. Thank god for my husband, the garden, and the internet.

zose said...

i spent my first bit as a mum totally online to chicks o/s. WORST THING EVER.
It took 3 years to build up some nice dependables who were post-kid me friendly, and i'm still finding new ones.
I don't have any old friends left really, maybe less than i have fingers.
the few people i know who are still thick with highschool/uni mates and do regular en mass trips to holiday parks freak the crap out of me.

I think many of us are lonely, but i think those moments when you feel ultimately, fabulously and boistrously you need to be semi-regular, and hard to find when you live on an island off an island!


more later, i have to go and explain our elimination diet to the child care centre cook.

jeesh its humid in old sydney town today.

fiveandtwo said...

Small towns are hard to crack. I think the liklihood of finding a buddy on your wavelength is harder in small towns (smaller pool of pepole to draw from?). Took me ages, years, in this town. It was a very lonely time.
You strike me as having a fine sense of humour and an easy manner - so it ain't you!

blue milk said...

Yes.. I hear you, me too.

Lost in a reverie... said...

I'm glad you had a good time away.

It is difficult to leave friends and make new ones.

But it's not you.

xxx

Anonymous said...

I think I spent my 20´s constantly moving to find somewhere where I feel comfortable, where I felt like I belong. I had good friends, but kept moving away from them (to think they are all in Canberra for god´s sake. I ended up overseas. I met my husband who is the person who balances me and the only person I have felt totally and unconditionally loved by. Yet for this person I now in a little village overseas. It took 4 years until I could speak enough to communicate with people and I have never been so lonely in my life. But I couldn´t run away this time as I was tied by family and a house. And with time, I eventually made friends here. Not like in Australia, but maybe with time. But for the first time I had to learn to be content with myself and find things to be content with instead of running. And I have never been happier. Yet go back to the deck in Canberra, a bottle of wine, cheesy 80 songs, and even after 5 years away, we can still belt them out. And laugh. And cry. And get upset with each other without taking offence. The real friends. They come along very seldom, but for the life of me I will never let them go. They will always be in your heart. Just with a few more wrinkles........