Sometimes when I’m talking about my work with friends, they ask me: “Yes, that’s great, but how are you?” What they mean is, “But why aren’t you dating? Why are you alone?” As if there’s only one way to be lonely, as if sex and romantic love were the only thing a person could long for. There’s something that happens in our conversations that makes it easy to quip or reduce the scope of a person’s life and all their desires to the presence or absence of a sexual or romantic partner. I say, “Oh, who knows, I’m happy. I’m fine.”
And then, I guess, I feel like a hypocrite, because while I do bristle when people ask me questions like that, I do long for something. And I’m only just now able to scrape away the simple surface of it. Recently, another friend came to stay with me for a couple days. We had coffee and tea. We ate meals together. We looked at books. We had long conversations deep into the night. We challenged each other. We engaged each other. We were active and present to each other’s presence in the room. He is thoughtful and good. He is the sort of boy I’ve fallen in love with my entire life — wounded and a little sad, but with smart, searching eyes and a depth of acuity that is rare in the world. But I did not fall in love with him, not really. Instead, I think, we fashioned the sort of intimacy I’ve always longed for. To be open to another person; to be aware of them, their faults, their glories, their ugliness, their beauty.