There exists a young woman that some would call beautiful. Who, some claim, passes through the world as though an apparition, affecting an unutterable feminine grace and sensuality, trailing an endless train of would be lovers and suitors. It is said to walk beside her is to see the thirsty eyes of all kinds haunt her every movement, compelling even the strongest into over indulgence, leaving many to question if beauty exists beyond rare moments of creation. The ambitions of men, never foreign to her, fall on deaf ears, easily rebuked with the wave of a delicate hand, a weary smile. Despite the praise of her physical virtues, a deep-seated dread, an overwhelming fear of loneliness, fills the deepest reaches of her heart. So strong is her sense of peculiarity, this sense of abnormality, that the young woman long ago chose to close her heart to the hope of ever stumbling across companionship.
Day light and the security of blue skies coupled with casual associations, abates the keenness, the sharpness, of such failings. The needs that populate a typical day promise the potential to subjugate her worries to a corner of her mind less traveled than the more pressing issues of the right here, right now; but, the regularity of people caught hand in hand or sharing a knowing, content smile, is enough to widen the circle of light encasing her every days to include, what has become, a ritual heartache. The energy, dredged from pleasures taken in food and accomplishment, is never enough to sustain her against the constant reminder that a hole, vast, empty, and seemingly unfillable, resides just at the illuminated edge. Still, a glorious day, and its chores and responsibilities, provides enough reprieve that she is not made entirely immobile, disabled in her power to push aside such woes; instead, it provides just enough of a buffer that she returns home exhausted, frustrated, and beaten. How easy it would be if the war she fights was absolute: absolute death, absolute lack of life, no hope for hope; for the sake of mercy and efficiency she could ask that her longing be cut short.
Night’s arrival, and its trivialities, lacking in substance and escape, fail against the charge of her emotional reality, crumbling under the first wave, exposing a raw nerve, browbeaten by the impossibility of infinite patience. Here, in earnest, her misery begins; the unbearable solitude, without recourse to distraction, brings to life her needs, thrown into stark relief against bare walls, cast in aciculate ghastliness. In the lonely hours between dusk and dawn, when the world slows and time is palpable, insight oozing from the very darkness, she becomes witness to the impossibility of herself. Hoping against hope that one day her heart might be filled with the overwhelming joy of knowing a lover, someone whom she might share in life’s wonders, finds uncertain footing as the fear and agony of perceiving herself to be a singularity takes hold. The young woman, full of life and desire, desperately clinging to notions of romantic love, valiantly battles a defiant will, bending all its strength against a compassionate heart. From the place most precious to her, central to her emotional reality, a guttural cry forms, yearning for love and companionship, a want so intense she writhes under the wanton canopy of the wedding bed.
Out of happenstance I came upon her one endless early spring day lost in other thoughts and goings-on. Her presence at my desk, striking as it was, presented just another check mark on an ever-expanding list of needs and to-dos. Her case, relayed with confidence and humility, was one of aspiring journalist, eager to make her mark and create positive change in this bleak country. Ambitious, driven, and hopeful, a welcome change to the average of my adopted home, offered a temptation too irresistible to pass. An agreement, soon reached, established daily habits that began the slow incorporation of her nearness into the expected day. The simplicity of her physical presence began as a body, leaning forward in the chair next to mine, studiously, intensely, chronicling changes made to articles before publication, so that she might develop her voice; in time, such teaching came to represent a delicate feminin warmth, and the reassurance of her rhythmic breathing. Comprises made and forgotten in my distant past found inspiration for an impending return to the fore; the urge for closeness, the sensation of her skin upon my own, made a triumphant homecoming to daily musings and inner dialogue. Such discourse had become foreign to me in recent years, certain disappointments, and a chronic, overwhelming need to find peace in travel, had pushed the primary desire of all men into subterranean realms of self-reality. Of course, moments when I longed for, when I needed, the companionship of a willing and deserving female still played themselves out, but their abundance and regularity had slowed, allowing for an undisturbed perusal of the landscape, proving objective if not tantalizing.
Incrementally, as I roamed terra firma et mare is, ties to friends, acquaintances, and favorite places for a meal, slowly eroded. Familiarity had become a rarity, a good not bartered, as profundity of relation was supplanted by the immediate need to experience and explore my newest surroundings with whom ever chanced to be near; the lone, unapologetic drifter found in foreign lands, quick to offer friendship and access, at the cost of depth, became my companion. Existence, abbreviated with casual associations, still valuable, but without history and permanentness, were the words to life’s song. Much a kin to her sufferings, day light hours proved to be a relief from the painful bombardment of nightfall; the challenge of communicating in Russian, navigating Bishkek and interacting with Kyrgyz culture proved enough that my days were not thrown into utter bleakness. In truth though, loneliness was always there, especially when something of significance occurred: a beautiful sunset, a passionate song, an experience worth sharing. There was no one to call. I had become one of Borges‘s humble characters, sitting in a hole waiting for eternity to pass while I envisioned all the lives I would live, and all the people I would love in those lives.
Through something unspoken between us, we had occasion to look for one another outside the bounds of work and the walls that contained our language to grammer and punctuation. A simple question, with a simple answer had the power to initiate a baring of souls. During slow evening strolls through the city, witnessing the gradual darkening of faces moving past us as they made their way home to lovers and children, we gave ourselves to conversation about life and the greatest of all gifts. There, on the cracked and uneven sidewalks of a distant land, walking beside me, preaching the gospel of the lonely, the beautiful young woman pleaded her case. She, as life would have it, played the role of misfit, her virtues the cause of all her frustration. Lost in this particular world, populated by conformists and those that never find cause to question, she fights an infinite battle against complacency and her own struggle for integrity. She, looking beyond the material, finds little in the way of contemporaries, nurturing a single devotion on this soil. Torn between the inherent need to express emotion and have it returned, and the always-present disappointment she finds in the willing, has pre-maturely exhausted a strong heart.
To be continued…