Monday, May 16, 2011

Getting Lonely

...and I will go downtown, stand in the shadows of the buildings
and button up my coat, trying to stay strong, spirit willing.
and I will come back home, maybe call some friends,
maybe paint some pictures,
it all depends.
and I will get lonely and gasp for air.
and look up at the high windows, and see your face up there. 
  -- The Mountain Goats, Get Lonely
  Lord, it is time. The great mass of students has gone by. The fruits have not yet begun to swell on tree and vine, but no matter: It's summer break. It is time for me to get lonely. 
        It is time for me to return to writing, which means I've got to try, by some peculiarly plodding trick, by some bland and shadowless magic, to propel myself into that psychic place (a shipwrecked sailor on a verdant isle, a scrawny mouse in a crusty cupboard, a bright red shirtless bellyful retiree brandishing a metal-detector on some oil-slicked  Florida panhandle beach) where I can forage for the only foods that seem to effectively fuel my writing: melancholy, desolation, an autumnal quiet, an abiding loss.
        I do not want to be sad, not exactly -- and certainly not miserable. Sadness makes me quiet, an awkward scuttling of steps in a grand cathedral. And there is nothing at all to be said in the face of misery. One merely moans and then, finally mustering a voice, curses the world and everyone in it.
        Ah, but to get lonely. To get lonely is to feel oneself quietly, inexorably withdraw, to feel one's peripheral vision somehow widen, to feel that even the smallest sound -- the clink of ice, the tap of a pencil, the hum of a distant air conditioner -- contains a secret code, a talismanic signal.
        Forget waiting, like Rilke, for an Autumn Day. By then I've got books to choose, syllabi to prepare, meetings to attend. It is during the summer that I must press the final sweetness into the heavy wine, that I must wander along the boulevards, up and down, that I must somehow manage to get lonely.

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