Lonesome Pine UPDATED 2022

(So I guess what I'm doing now is revisiting old posts for any relevance to current events. Today's hits, yesterday's favorites. Apologies.)

On Sunday, I felt the vaguely familiar scratch at the back of my throat. A hypochondriacal child, in my mid-twenties tired of being told 'the lab results confirm my medical opinion that MY GOD THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU, MAYBE LET OTHER PATIENTS HAVE A TURN THIS WEEK,' I swore off health care. I self-diagnosed Bell's Palsy and proceeded to fly to San Francisco the next day, stopping by a pharmacy to pick up an eye-patch. I walked around with a broken thumb for a week until I was dragged to a walk-in clinic. I've carried a grape sized epididymal cyst for god knows how many years, no cap as the kids say.

But I feel like I know when something is wrong.

Back up just a bit though. The last 5 to 6 years have taken a toll on the small group of folks I'm fortunate to call family. And at any moment now, we are about to lose one of the kindest, most positive, most well-liked guys we know, just a few years older than me. It's likely to happen today, on my son's birthday.

On Monday morning, I woke up feeling terrible, and on the drive to work decided it would be irresponsible to go to the office, as my administrative assistant is undergoing chemotherapy, so I drove to the pharmacy and picked up some COVID tests. The first one came up negative, but I worked from home, feeling sicker and sicker as the day wore on. 

Tuesday morning was a different matter. I knew before I took the test I was positive, though I had harbored superhero delusions of natural immunity, given that I'm like the only person I know who hasn't had the freaky thing. Plus I'm vaxxed and boostered and exercise daily and am both introverted and mildly agoraphobic. 

Tuesday night was brutal. I sweated through three sets of pajamas, I swear a pack of coyotes responded to my hacking and whimpers, at one point I was so delusional I tried to log onto Facebook knowing full well that I DON'T HAVE FACEBOOK (see: memory loss).

Wednesday was, in a word, worse.

COVID is a strange little virus. It's almost like a disease designed by rapid ideation at a start up. 

Block Head - "Okay, what have we got?"
"Well, maybe pulmonary?"
"That's basic, this is a cone of creative, lean in."
"Um, maybe a weird rash to throw off the diagnosis?"
"Loss of taste? Smell?"
"Ok, and I'm just spit balling here, but how about memory loss?"
/squirts lighter fluid onto smartboard
"A weird rash?"
/hesitates "You said that one"
"COVID toes?"
/unplugs USB lighter and sets room on fire

It would be an exaggeration to say I thought I was on death's doorstep, but I was frankly surprised at how hard this bug bit. And it's difficult not to think about how we should prepare for our final moments, we've all lost so many friends and family, and the news, my god, the downside of telecommuting is the easy connectivity to breaking news, and stories like Uvalde can be described in many terms, but novel is no longer one of them. 

There was a moment when I realized things did not taste like they should. It's one thing to hear about people losing their sense of taste, but what is that like, really? And more importantly, if you were to find out that you would lose your sense of taste and never get it back, WHAT WOULD YOU EAT LAST? 

(Gatorade and a bag of mint flavored kettle corn left over from Christmas, as it turns out)


If he is so smart, how come he’s single and childless and alone. This is sometimes the nature of a self-posed question in the middle of a drunken card game, surrounded by young people in love. It doesn’t matter how well you like someone, fate doesn’t bless everyone the same level of happiness. Fate notwithstanding some level of effort. Or conditions, you can’t forget about conditions. Daisies just don’t blossom in the dark.

Or subterfuge. There has to be at least one person out there who publically laments his loneliness while secretly reveling in the prospect of an endless solitude. Inexorable waves of decalcifying sadness that feed an artistic bent or spiritual longing or addiction to vitamin supplements, I don’t know. All I know is that it hurts to see your friends publically acknowledge a longing for companionship, trench it like a big hole in front of their house that you cannot fill. Have it remind you of all the buried bones in your own backyard.

These are not my own personal fears. I have been saturated with love and companionship, wadded it tightly into my cylinders so that the residue itself amalgamated with the steel, and on my last day I will leave my deathbed smelling faintly of perfume and oil. The fireworks show is over, and there is always going to be some sadness like forgotten picnic blankets, but melancholy is where the magic happens.

If only you could share memories the way you share a smoke, open up your box of happenstance and allow everyone a handful. But I left mine out in the rain and when I opened it up, it had sprouted, the stronger memories feeding on the faded, and now there is not much to do but toss the whole lot into the flower box and see what thrives. Maybe I will develop a more concentrated form of loneliness, really suffer like an Olympic champion.

Loneliness is not a contest! you might say. But maybe we just haven't discovered all the original accounts of it, my god, how could we. The scrolls are surely hidden away in undiscovered hermitages. Think of all the unknown mythology surrounding solitude, accounts of which remain untold because the lonely haven't anyone with whom to share.

Thespis the Rejected, who challenged Artemis to a battle of loneliness and won because she had a wedding to attend. Cyrus the Forsaken, whose loneliness was such that it was said his first teardrops gave rise to the solitary snipe. Or Labarna the Unbefriended, whose imaginary friend pretended he was a stone.

They were free to pursue such wondrous exploits, unburdened with the longing that comes from a kiss or a midnight stroll. Lucky.


Dave2 said…
For me, there's a difference between being alone and being lonely. Mine is a life filled with long periods of solitude, and yet I don't feel lonely. At least not very often. For those rare times I do, there's chocolate pudding to keep me company.
Brandon said…
You know, I had considered my friend was similar in that regard until the comment he made at the last card game. I think maybe poker is his chocolate pudding. There are times when I acutely miss solitude, and unfortunately most of those times involve scotch.
eclectic said…
If the scotch is a good 15-year single malt, loneliness maybe isn't such a bad gig.
Iron Fist said…
Having been blessed relatively recently with what's shaping up to be permanent companionship, I really shouldn't complain, but I did let Sarah know that she effectively ruined my plans to spend my days roaming the Earth, alone. (It will be nice to have her along, but still. Sometimes...)
Brandon said…
shari, plus you don't have to share.

vahid, being alone is much better when there's someone there with you.
Summer said…
"...trench it like a big hole in front of their house that you cannot fill."

This is such a pretty bit of writing, B, but I think I like that little fragment most of all.
Summer said…
Um, so I'm no sure why my name appears as "admin," but....well, huh. Nope. Got nothing.

Brandon said…
i was worried my blog had become the victim of a hostile corporate takeover. whew.

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