‘Tis a gift, this writing life.
‘Tis a greater gift to know writers.
Kate. The scribblers, the dreamers, the thinkers and schemers. We are: alone.
And now I’m all alone again; nowhere to turn, no one to go to.
Without a home, without a friend, without a face to say “hello” to…
“On My Own” (lyrics by Herbert Kretzmer, music by Claude-Michel Schönberg)
Eponine’s famous solo from the musical Les Miserables opens with these heart-rending lines. She wanders the streets of Paris, the air thick with the electricity of impending (and doomed) revolution. Her heart aches with unrequited love for Marius (the man who stupidly falls for the vapid Cossette, for no apparent reason other than her blonde hair). Eponine pours out her anguish, her voice bouncing, echoing, off of the River Seine.
Long has this been my favorite moment.
Jean Valjean’s plaintive “Bring Him Home” never fails to stir the audience. The (spoiler alert) death scene at the very end makes me cry every time. But there’s something about Eponine. Something about this woman, to whom life has been so cruel, that pulls at my soul.
Perhaps it is because I am well-acquainted with aloneness. After being in a crowd for longer than ten minutes, I crave it. Stop the noise, the smells, the jostling. Just let me be.
Yet this can be a dangerous thing. It can be more than aloneness.
How quickly loneliness moves in.
For months now I have been slowly isolating myself. Little by little. Choice by choice. Familiar enemies, sorrow and anxiety, wrapped me tighter and tighter in the softest of blankets. Lulled me into a place of numbness – until the numbness suddenly burst into a pain too great to bear.
There were no faces to say “hello” to, for I had turned them away. Out went the plea to my friends. Please understand and accept my strangeness. Please come to my house, eat chocolate and make fun of Donald Trump. I love you even if I can’t figure out how to say so.
This is the struggle of my life. This is the double-edged sword. I’m an off-the-charts introvert and there’s no doubt I need time to myself. I need to be able to process or just stare blankly at a wall. Equally do I need time with others. I need to be amongst my people, the men and women who, though far from perfect, have laughed with me, cried with me, kept me grounded. Each one is a good gift sent from the Father above.
No woman is an island.
No woman is meant to be all alone.
I have to include a video of this gorgeous song. From the 25th anniversary concert.