In which your Gentle Host goes all emo and ruminates on the concept of “alone,” because, verily, it is a really slow day here at work.
My parents accomplished the near-impossible. They had two only children, and both lived.
My brother is sixteen years older than I am. By the time I was old enough to stop crapping myself, he was off in the Army turning wrenches on helicopters for a living. A few years later he came back home and went to work in my dad’s shop, living down the hill from us. But because of the age difference, we were never close, and still aren’t.
I didn’t have many friends growing up. We lived a few miles outside of a town of 1200 people, on a rural road, upon which I was not allowed to ride my bike because of crazy drivers, blind curves, and logging trucks. The kids to either side of us were a rough crowd, not proper for me to run with (my parents were the most kind and genteel old-school racists you’d ever meet, really) and so I spent the vast majority of my non-school time alone. Even in high school and on up through community college, after I could drive, we still lived in the same spot well out in the country; I spent as much time with my friends as I could, but in the end, I always drove back to that same house and ended up alone with my parents.
College didn’t change things much. I was a geek, and never really fit in; after five years I didn’t keep up with anybody I spent time with in college. I still spent a good chunk of my time alone. And it was then that I developed my driving addiction, that continued long after I graduated.
When I wanted to take a vacation, I’d throw my stuff in whatever car I owned at the time, I’d pick a direction, and I’d hit it. And I would drive, and drive, and drive, sometimes two thousand miles in seven days. There wasn’t any point or any real destination, usually; I’d just make it up as I go along, as long as I could be back home when the vacation ran out. Nobody else. Just me, my car, whatever tapes I had handy, and a highway. That was paradise back then.
Things changed twelve years ago when I first met Wife Unit. She too was an only child. She too had grown up in the country (back when Gwinnett County, Georgia had a “country”). And I found myself surprised. Because suddenly I realized something…I most definitely didn’t want to be alone anymore. I was over it. And she felt exactly the same way.
Fast-forward twelve years. Now we are happily married, with our pride and joy Nublet making our lives alternately Heaven and Hell (sometimes simultaneously). If you can overlook the toys all over the floor, the cluttered cars, and the expired license plates, our life looks pretty good.
Looks can be deceiving.
My mother’s in a home in Virginia and I don’t talk to my brother much anymore, not that I ever did. Her mother died last Thanksgiving, her biodad has been estranged since the wedding, and her stepfather is two states away dealing with his own loss. We know very few people here in Durham, and those we do know have been wonderful to us, but they have their own lives to lead. We’ve met some amazingly cool people over the Internet and through World of Warcraft…but it’s not like I can call up Lauren or Deb and ask if they could take Nublet for an evening while we have a breakdown, y’know? We can’t afford the plane fare to Boston or Portland.
And so when Wife Unit needs a hand with Nublet, or when we need clear advice about something, or when the letters containing the word “default” come fluttering in and we need a hand up or at least moral support…we’re utterly alone. One husband, one wife, one toddler, two cats. Alone. No family, few friends, no support network. It’s all been smashed to hell by the past two years. We’re all we’ve got. And there’s too many days where we look at each other and don’t know if that’s going to be enough.
I already blew thirty years of my life being alone. I’m so damned tired of it.