It occurred to me, again, that my closest friends, with the exception of Chad, are all far, far away from me. Most are over a thousand miles away; one is even five thousand miles. Five thousand miles. It’s possible I will never meet him face to face, although I don’t like to think that way.
What amazes me is that it doesn’t amaze me anymore: I need a computer to keep in daily contact with the people who matter most.
That must be lonely, the Dr. Doctor inside my head says. Do you feel lonely? No, I reply. I don’t really have any idea about my physical presence anymore anyway.
Sometimes I look at the insides of my arms. Running one palm gently up and down the sallow skin, I inspect my veins, which are quite visible, almost greenish. There’s blood in there, I think to myself, lots of it, and it’s keeping me alive. My skin is keeping me alive. This machine is keeping me alive and I don’t know the first thing about it.
But I shower every day; I put on makeup; I blow-dry my hair; I choose my clothes hurriedly but cautiously, still matching the solid, subdued hues of everything I own; I take my meds and I take my vitamins. I do care for this machine somewhat.
Then again, I forget to eat until my stomach growls so loudly it echoes through the library. I forget to go to the bathroom until my abdomen aches when I shift in my chair. I forget to be sexy, to want touch, to need hugs and to love the pieces of people you really only see when they are right in front of you.
I’m not lonely, I say. I’m not lonely because I’m existing in-between right now. I would be lonely if I didn’t have this computer, this tin can and this string that reaches over oceans.
Chad held my hand the other day, walking from the car into the store, and I didn’t ever want to let go, once I remembered how good it felt. How good it feels to be physically connected to another person, even through tangled fingers, even through a squeeze of the arm or a brush of the cheek.
The sky was the blue of comic-book mirrors today, not dingy but not full-tilt blue, and everything’s budding and springing and greening and raining down here in the hot, wet city. I saw the sun, made sure to take my breaks early so I could smoke and pace in it. But it’s the sun, it’s far away too, and no matter how much I think about it, its spiky rays in children’s paintings, its spots, its gases, its centering of our own small universe, I can’t seem to feel it on me.
Kite will arrive soon and I’ll want to hug her, hug her and crush her and say, don’t go back to Wisconsin, stay here with me, you can sleep on the old mattress and when it gets warm, we’ll drag it out to the patio and you can teach me the stars. We’ll go to boardgamers every week and I won’t feel so alien, so unfamiliar in a familiar setting. Lazy afternoons we’ll go to the botanical gardens and write, each in our separate notebooks, not saying anything for hours, until we get hungry or until the sun sets over the delicate irises in the Japanese peace garden, whichever comes last.
But she’ll go. It will be god-awful early that Monday morning and I’ll drive her to the airport and she’ll go. I won’t resent her for it, either. Driving back in the mouse-grey dawn, I’ll go over everything I said and did, and worry about if she had a good time or not, and clutch the steering wheel and the gearshift the whole way because I hate that bloody expressway and I hate letting go. Holding on to anything at all.