I am good at being alone. That is what I have been told, and been telling myself, for quite some time.
It is true, when I think of days back home where I would drive into the mountains on my own, to the furthest oceanfront I could find, and do nothing and everything and never need anyone else; and it is true when I think of days in that second home where I would look for mountains and the sea to run towards, and feel confused that they weren’t anywhere close enough to find in an afternoon. I have spent a long time forgetting that for all the hours passed looking for something else, I always came home before dark.
It is wholly untrue when I think of any time between being 10 and 20. For ten years, I was never alone. If I was reading, or eating cheese sandwiches after school, it was always while sitting next to someone else. Even when we were quiet, we were together. After those years were over, it still wasn’t true, at least not always. It was not true in Paris. It is not true in Mexico.
Time hardly ever feels linear, and the things we encounter at 15 don’t stay there. We drag them around for years, never stopping to think why we make the choices we do, why we think we are good at being alone. Until one day, maybe you find yourself crying in a foreign city and that’s what it takes, to understand that I am here, taking 3 buses to get most places, but I am also still 15 being told I’m bad even though I’m not; 20, and losing my best friend and never being told why; 23 and stepping over the sleeping form of someone who offered me ice cream instead of love. He didn’t know what to say about any of it, but at least he didn’t send me back to that house. For a long time, I have not known how to tell good love from bad.
We form patterns as we grow, treading them like footsteps in the sand, deeper and deeper until it seems like there is no other way. It always seems like what we lose is more important than what we gain. I forget that at the end of all the days spent at the seaside, or looking for a stretch of blue over the next hill, there has always been those that waited for the crunch of home-coming tires. I spent all my time looking at things that weren’t there anymore, and around the same time, I started being told that I am good at being alone.
Things happen to us, and we happen to other people, and it is very easy to walk around like none of it is up to us. I am 15, and 20, and 23, and never invited to the people I love most’s weddings, and I am heart-loved and skyline-sassy and hoped-for by a home that has always held out for me, and I am, and I am not, good at being alone. I am all of these things at once, and more, and anything may still happen. We can always go home, again and again, and again, as long as we make it before dark. Who is to say there is only one way anything ever ends?