March 03, 2013

My Loneliness Is Killing Me

I was always lonely in New York.

But I always had friends in New York.

They were just never...enough.

I always got picked up in bars in New York. I always had someone to sleep with in New York. I almost always had sex in New York (save for those two years during the peak of my existential crisis). They just didn't give me what I needed. But they helped.

Every little bit helped.

I've got nothing in LA.

I've got no one to call if I'm upset.

I've got no one to sleep beside.

I've got no bartenders winking at last call, with a nod to the couch in the back.

I've got myself, and although that's a lot, it's just not enough.

The other night, I was invited to a professional happy hour by a cute guy I'd met in December 2010 when I'd come to LA looking for an apartment. I haven't seen him since, but we've communicated via an occasional email or tweet. I'd been trying to get together with him to reconnect, so I was thrilled to be invited. Unfortunately, the happy hour was far, and I was running late (as usual), so I emailed with my ETA, asking if I should still come. I had no other plans, nowhere else to be, no one else to see. So I drove towards it, checking my phone regularly for a response.

I drove over an hour in rush traffic, compulsively checking my Blackberry when I spotted a blinking red light.

I turned onto the weird, remote side street in the industrial complex which houses the office where the happy hour was taking place. And as I pulled to the side of the road, my headlights blaring in an otherwise dark, desolate driveway, I finally received my response: "We're not going that late...everyone is leaving...Let's get together soon."


Where was I to go? I was hungry. I had to go to the bathroom. I was far from home. But I wasn't regretting it; I had to try. If I could imagine that he'd tell me to come anyway, that just the two of us would hang out, that we'd meet somewhere nearby for a beer, then it was possible that it could happen.

Only, it didn't.

Last night, I let two guys talk to me at the bar and buy me drinks, and even let one of them call me "ignorant" for not watching TV. I forgave him when he apologized for insulting me (after, of course, I yelled at him).

I am that lonely.

I was cast in the lead role of a staged reading of a new screenplay last week, and I really wanted people in LA to come see my big, one night only performance. I posted it on Facebook. I emailed some of my closest acquaintances and actor friends. And then...I made the text message and email rounds to my LA-based former lovers: those I don't want anymore, those who don't want me, and those I still can't get over.

I am that lonely.

And after receiving responses from none of them, and seeing a relatively sparse audience, I am that much lonelier.

I don't know what to do about this, because now that I've more or less given up trying, it's getting worse. I am out all of the time. I am busier and more active than anyone else I know. I know more people than anyone else that I know.

But I am not connecting.

Maybe I haven't been here long enough. Maybe I am too needy. Maybe I expect too much.

But I see others connecting. I can imagine it happening to me. Doesn't that mean it could happen, at least, one day?

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  1. Hi Sandi,

    You don't know me but I just want you to know that you are not alone in feeling alone. I think you are brilliant and beautiful just the way you are and you may not realize it but I am sure that you touch a lot of people with your quirky adventurous spirit.
    Before you think I'm some crazy stalker let me assure you that I am not! I am a 52 year old mother and grandmother. About two years ago my kids grew up and moved out and my active social life suddenly went to zero. I fell into depression and I had no motivation for anything. I've always had an adventurous and exploring spirit though, so while I didn't feel able to actually go out and explore, I lived vicariously through you and your adventures. You helped me to remember my playful spirit and over time, circumstances changed and I became more like myself again.
    I've started going out and loving people every day. Sometimes I send my love out through the ethersphere and sometimes it's just a kind word to a store clerk or a stranger in line. I've found the more I go out of my way to show love, the more love I receive in return.
    So thank you for putting yourself out there in such a public way because you do more good than you think and I'm sure that you'll find friends and meaningful relationships soon!
    Best Wishes,

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this. Glad to know I'm not alone in the world.

  2. Another anonymous reader here...agreeing with the post from the woman above. You really do motivate and inspire many of your readers. I am the same woman who posted a comment about Valentines Day...and how I am kind of looking forward to possibly being single for the first time in my life by the time the next one rolls around. I am both excited and terrified about the journey I am about to embark on: my daughter will be graduating from high school in May, we will be taking a mother/daughter road trip from Florida to California, and we plan to stay in California and start a new and exciting life there...and I will be filing for divorce soon after. So, I read your blogs about exploring L.A. and living alone in L.A., and I dream of what it might be like. I hope my daughter stays with me a while, but she may end up striking out on her own eventually...and then it will just be me, But I have big dreams and big plans...job transfer is in the works though not guaranteed...eventually I want to pursue my PhD...and my long-term goal is to teach creative writing on a college level. I am so scared to take this big jump...I am really scared about finances...but I think I would hate myself if I didn't at least try. You seem to have taken some giant leaps of faith as well...and even though you may feel lonely at the moment, I bet you feel a lot of pride in many of the things you have done FOR yourself and BY yourself...that is a wonderful accomplishment! If nothing else, know that you absolutely inspire other women to "go for it" and to "follow their dreams" and "to take care of themselves." Also, your awesome photo blogging as you explore many cool places around L.A.--that is the main reason I read your blog, because I can't wait to explore some of those places as well. Keep writing! You are awesome! :)

  3. Hard advice from an anonymous reader: I met you exactly once at a party. I thought you were interesting. I checked out your blog. And then... I ran far away. Fast. And here's why:
    You're a great writer, a gifted photo-essayist, an intrepid explorer... and those traits inspire people to want to connect and know you better. I so admire your get-out-there-and-discover determination. But this blog's drumbeat of lonely-hurt-and-not-connecting is, well, off-putting. I write this with respect and concern: public posts like this may be what's preventing folks from deciding to connect deeper, to come and see performances, to engage. The title may be "Avoiding Regret", but there's so much pain and isolation and public anger at parents and angst over love/sex/hookups gone wrong that it doesn't read much like "avoiding" at all. Owning the feelings is important -- I got that. Vital to grow as a person. But airing it to strangers (and potential new acquaintances) in all its rawness via blog, though, may be part of what's tripping you up.
    If someone wrote this comment on a blog of mine, I'd probably curl up in a ball, cry, and insult the heck out of whoever wrote them and stayed anonymous. But I hope you don't because you've got amazing stuff to share -- and, maybe, just maybe, some stuff to pack away and share less so that you can be seen for the bright spirit you've become, not the history that got you here. I wish you love, friendship, connection, and success.

    1. Hm. I don't go to very many parties so I wonder who you are. The more emotional, memoir-based stuff is not for everyone, and if I've learned anything, it's that you can't make everyone happy all of the time. Sorry you don't like it. I think that having some access to some kind of backstory is important to understand my compulsion to explore and discover - my insatiable curiosity - rather than just perusing random events, attractions and artifacts out of context. Without the personal take, I might as well just write for Wikipedia.

    2. Regardless, thank you for continuing to read! Looks like you haven't run very far. Do me a favor and complain how f-ed up I am to all your friends so they can come visit and read for themselves!

  4. It's an interesting thing. I've been writing in much the same vein for more than a decade -- that vein which you open up and bleed pixels onto a screen -- and I've never gotten a note like this "hard advice." I've seen similar advice in the past, but always aimed at women, never at male writers. It's almost as though certain people feel free to give women instructions about how to conduct their creativity that would never dream of telling a man the same thing.

    1. Right?! It reminds me of when my sister used to say, "Sandi, why can't you just be quiet?" when I would cry over the way our parents treated us, or, in some cases, fight back. BECAUSE I CANNOT.

  5. You remind me very much like myself even though I'm a gay man with a partner. We are both adventurers at heart and we have an insatiable wanderlust. That means a part of us will always be 'lonely' because adventurers and trailblazers by their very definition forge the path ahead so that others may follow us. I have a partner and he does enjoy many of the activities and adventures I do each week, but because of his job, he can't be with me in most of those adventures and I've come to accept this. I would rather have accomplished many more things on my own than just doing some things with him. To me, that's my definition of Avoiding Regret. Relationships are very hard to maintain, especially committed relationships. They require that we compromise a lot, since its just not about you, or not just about him/her, - its about the two of you. Relationships also require sacrifice. Most of my single friends and relatives who never pair off - they either never figure this out, or they realize they are better off not having to compromise and eventually accept their life situation. So when you feel lonely, then it might make sense to sometimes slow down once in a while, so that the people you are interested in can catch up to you because staying ahead of the pack will always be a lonely existence.