Tonight I saw, up close, the deep and fearsome solitude of a closed person.
One of my friends, a girl who married young, is unhappy in her marriage. This does not mean her marriage will die. It simply means that her marriage is sick. She and her husband have not yet gone to have this illness professionally diagnosed. But she suspects that it may be quite serious. Only time will tell.
But, anyway, this has thoroughly shaken me. Remember the wedding I went to a while back? The beautiful, romantic, heroic wedding? That changed my views about marriage and weddings in general?
This is her.
And tonight she described her frustrations and resentment and pain to me with a shocking cynicism.
My heart twists away from me, whining.
I have given up on Truth in relationships. There is no way to find out why we do the things we do. Or what it all “means.” Who can begin to know, who can begin to say, what has happened between people? Even if we could write down everything we say out loud, who could write down the things we don’t?
Who can score and tally glances? Who can quantify a touch, a kiss?
We say things that we WANT to be true. I say things that I want to be true. That’s just how it is.
And even if you think you Know in the moment, time will warp your certainty and strip it from you. You will be uncertain the second It is over. You will doubt almost immediately. You will fear, you will wonder, and guess. Five years later you will look back and say It was because of This. Ten years later you will marvel that you were ever so ignorant as to believe That.
You will close.
People open and close.
And even they don’t know when or how or why.
There is no Truth that can be known. Not between human beings. Not between anyone who is flawed, imperfect, insecure, afraid.
Perhaps there is – there will be – Truth. Perhaps the Truth is that whatever MUST happen will happen. But we’ll only know what that is when the movie fades to black and the credits roll. And, in this life, there’s no script to read or way to fast forward.
I cannot tell you how this realization pains me. As Billy Collins says, I cannot tell you how vastly my loneliness is deepened. How poignant and amplified the world before me seems.
In a week I will get on a plane and go to Australia. I’m going to see a man there. I think this is a brave thing to do, but it seizes me with terror – with the oldest, most familiar fear I know – the Terror of Being.
The consuming, breathless Terror of Being.
I have pinned my hope to a star.
But since there is no discoverable Truth here, since I am an astronaut, exploring things I can't even begin to understand, and since I know that...I go with hope.
Because my friend DID get married. Because she WAS heroic.
Because, even if there is a death in the future, there once was a life. LIFE in all capitals!
And the alternative is tin and stone and sawdust.