On The Darkside

Does anyone wonder why we fell compelled to celebrate love (well, aside from the millions of marketing dollars from Hallmark)?

Here's something I wrote a few years ago (summer of 1999, to be precise, back when I had a frickin' job) about the flipside.

The world is lonely.

11:08 on a Tuesday night and I've finally made it home.

Things like this happen when you work a 13-hour day.

First the left shoe.

No, actually, first the air conditioning. Then the left shoe.

I guess it's time now to work on the right shoe.


The world is a lonely place tonight.

Two of the people closest to me have just broken up with their respective
Others; and meanwhile, on the other side of the world, an old obsession is
making noises that a lonely man could easily interpret as come-hither sounds.

I wonder if I should respond, knowing full well that I will, and knowing
full well that when she fails to respond yet again, I will lose yet another
small part of my soul.

Now time to take off the socks.

Russians have always been good at apocalyptic music; I suspect that the
soundtrack for Armageddon will be Rachmaninoff's Prelude in C# minor, Op. 3
No. 2.

But I doubt that the end of the world will find the world lonely (unless,
of course, it happens so fast that no one notices).

Tonight, though, is not the end of the world.

The soundtrack for tonight is something elegant, spacious, peaceful. Brian
Eno's Music for Airports, overlaid by the low-frequency buzz and the
occasional rattle of the air conditioner.

This is music to be alone by. Being in an airport is one of the classic
cases of profound solitude in the most unlikely of places. Airports are
temples to transportation -- the soaring spaces of the Delta Terminal at
JFK; the futuristic deconstruction of Charles de Gaulle; the cavernous
vault of Hong Kong International. There is no inherent form in the function
of an airport; they are constructed as monuments, as edifices to the
movement of people.

Railroad stations used to be like this -- the late, lamented Penn Station;
Union Station in DC. The train station in St. Louis is a mere railroad
siding; the great hulk of the old station has been transformed into a mall.
The French converted an old train station into one of the most stunning
museums you'll ever see.

But in an airport, one can be so fundamentally isolated whilst stuck in the
middle of bustling crowds.

Tonight, I think, is a night to be alone.

Marx believed that man was fundamentally a social creature; Emerson
preached self-reliance. Simon & Garfunkel proclaimed "I am a rock"; yet no
man is an island unto himself.

The truth, I fear, lies somewhere in that murky gray area betwixt the two.

There seems to be some perverse correlation between the density of a
population and the feeling of enforced isolation. There are a million
stories in the naked city, and they're all about loneliness in the packed
splendor of civilization.

Many of the agonies that we inflict upon ourselves are done so in the
pursuit of companionship. Perhaps it is fitting that we best lick these
wounds in the privacy of our own skulls.

It's 11:52. Time for bed.

The world is packed full with the lonely.