ONLY THE LONELY
DiClemente is a writer and video producer in Syracuse, New York.
father died in August of 2007 after a six-month battle with
cancer; yet even before his passing, before the cancer ravaged
his gaunt, shriveled and lifeless body, I felt I had been orphaned
in my adulthood.
while my mother, stepfather, brother and two sisters are all
still alive, I believe I am psychologically abandoned on the
basis of my unmarried status. In an emotional sense, I have
been forsaken, left behind, separated from the rest of the normal
human race, and exiled to the island of lonely misfit souls.
lingering malaise developed in my advancing years simply because
I failed to secure a bride. Meanwhile, nearly all of my colleagues,
co-workers, peers, and friends from high school and college
have managed to pair off, branching out and extending their
families with the addition of wives, husbands, in-laws and children.
on the other hand, remain with only myself, a solo strand on
a withering, fruitless tree. And as I edge closer to my 40th
birthday, I must now accept and endure my perpetual bachelorhood.
men are meant to have women and women to have men, and when
this natural equation is unbalanced, an absence grows within
that remains unfilled.
I am not delving into the cause of my disconnection from the
opposite sex, but rather the effect -- the ramifications of
my longstanding isolation. I have come to realize there exists
in the English language no suitable synonym for the word loneliness;
the same can be said for the word orphan. So I guess it's fitting
that I identify myself as being orphaned by loneliness.
his popular song, "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay,"
Otis Redding summed up the nature of loneliness with this line:
"Just sittin' here resting my bones and this loneliness
won't leave me alone." Surely Redding understood, like
other great artists - Vincent van Gogh and Thomas Wolfe to name
a few -- that loneliness is a nagging, persistent presence that
never releases its grip.
overtakes a person with such ferocity that only intercession
by family, close friends and occasional casual lovers can free
the stricken victim and restore life. But this only lasts for
so long, because if nothing else, loneliness is a pattern that
continually repeats itself. And more
likely than not, individuals diagnosed with this condition are
never healed; its progression results in the termination of
the spirit and a personal fatality of the soul.
this brings me back to my orphan status. For the spouse-deprived
man or woman, his or her death is never mourned, because no
children, husbands, wives, or in-laws are left behind. It is
a silent death punctuated by a sense of loss that is final.
There are no heirs squabbling over the summer cabin in the Adirondacks.
I face a grim future, and I feel a little like Ebenezer Scrooge
looking at the headstone, overwhelmed with regret. Nonetheless,
I have come to a conclusion on how to repair my life, escape
this seemingly inevitable fate and thus alter my orphan status.
I see it, I have only two choices. One -- find a good woman,
get married, settle down here in central New York and become
like everyone else. The other -- upon failing the first -- is
to flee my home and take up residence in one of the nation's
major cities: New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles,
Seattle or San Francisco. Pick one, any one - it doesn't really
matter where I land.
if I am to remain alone, I want to live in a city where no one
knows my name, where I won't run into any old friends who are
brimming with wedded bliss, where the couples walking by me
on the street are only strangers, and where I can no longer
be haunted by the familiar surroundings that failed to produce
a happily married life.
effect, if I am unable to link up with a woman in the next few
years, then I want to whitewash my past -- my family, my upbringing,
my fractured adolescence, and my beloved upstate New York --
and begin again somewhere new.
this sounds cold and selfish, but in truth, I am in this world
with only me. I am the orphan, a man alone, making decisions
for a family of just one.
I also realize sometimes hope has a way of egging you on, provoking
you and not allowing you to give up, even on yourself. So in
reconsidering, I wonder: 'what does it matter when you get married
-- at age 23 or 59 -- as long as you pick the right person to
settle down with?' So maybe there's a chance I am not an orphan,
as originally suspected, but only a late bloomer. And perhaps
this prospect might allow me to embrace the future as opposed
to dreading it.