He was surprised at the vast difference in his feelings towards being alone. It used to be his most preferred state, the constant better choice than spending time with someone who didn’t understand him, didn’t see him. Being together with people that made him feel lonely had been a constant throughout his life, it had always just been a question of how lonely it got. Some had managed to keep those feelings to sparse glimpses throughout a day, whereas others hadn’t been able to shatter them in the slightest, however hard they’d tried. He’d gotten used to it, accepted it as a simple fact of life, though it had taken him many years to get to such a point.
In his youth he had sought faults within himself, looking for reasons for this inability to connect with other living souls so completely – a behavior he knew existed and could see in others around him all the time. A couple of times he’d thought that he’d gotten close, that he’d cracked the code and that the person standing in front of him, offering him everything, had also seen through it all and yet accepted him. But something had always kept him from diving head first into any sea of intimacy, and in the end all the offers made had always been retracted, or proven to be worthless, leaving him thirsting.
So as he grew older, he grew into the acceptance that life was a lonely state of affairs, and that time was best spent learning how to care for oneself, and to make sure that the company of one’s own thoughts and feelings was something to long for, to thrive in. He’d considered himself successful in that endeavor. But now he had reason to reevaluate that judgement.
”Jag hade så gärna velat vara en av de där kvinnorna.”
Jag förmådde inte mer än en viskning, så jag kunde inte klandra Sara när hon inte hörde mig. Hon var upptagen med att låsa ytterdörren och dra för gardinerna. Medan hon for runt i lägenheten jag aldrig varit i förut försökte jag tänka på något annat än på hur hon lyckats få mig hit, via bakgator och vägar där gatlamporna var trasiga, som att vi fortfarande befann oss i leken vi påbörjade för månader sedan. Jag ville inte heller tänka på hur jag lyckades hitta henne trots att jag inte följt planen, eller på hur hon först hade sett så arg ut, innan hon såg mig ordentligt. Och jag kunde inte tänka på det som hänt innan det. Så jag såg mig omkring i hennes hem. Jag hade sjunkit ner på golvet med ryggen mot sängen, jag vågade inte smutsa ner den, så från där jag satt såg det inte ut som ett riktigt hem. Vinkeln gjorde att det var mer som en film, och jag var en karaktär som betraktade sin omgivning. Jag försökte hålla kvar den känslan, den skänkte lite tröst, så jag fokuserade på affischer med artister jag bara vagt kände igen namnen på, på konstnärer jag nästan kunde namnge och på målningar jag förstod var Saras egna och som jag också velat kunna skapa. Plötsligt satte hon sig ner bredvid mig och lade sina händer på min arm.
”Hur mår du?”
Jag försökte le som svar på hennes omtanke, men jag började gråta i stället. Hennes händer letade sig runt mig och jag kunde kollapsa i hennes famn. Hon kändes stark omkring mig och det höll tankarna borta, vilket jag var tacksam för. Det räckte med känslorna.
“Hey”, she whispers, patiently. “Where did you go?”
I give her a joyless smile, out of politeness.
“It doesn’t matter”, I reply. “It will pass. It’s stupid of me to rely on you.”
“Why is it?”
“Cause if I do, I will start to need you. And when you disappear…”
“If I disappear”, she interrupts.
“When you disappear”, I persevere. “I won’t know what to do.”
She looks at me, a small smile hiding behind a solemn expression, which I realize I can sense. It tells me how well I’m getting to know her, and that realization both pleases me and gives me panic, calms me and urges me to back away. Just as I’m about to take her silence as defeat, and use that to bring myself to leave the bed, she speaks.
“You’ve misunderstood the purpose of getting close to someone. It is about finding someone that you can let past the innermost defenses, to trust that person to see you, to really know you. For them to prove that they have your best interests at heart, and to help you towards a place where your needs are as tended to as possible. To help you evolve, face your demons, grow stronger. And for you to do the same for them in return. True, it will then feel like there is no way you could survive without them, cause it will be such a difference from how the world was before they came into your life, and the idea of going back is terrifying. But the real beauty lies in what comes next.”
I realize she’s luring me back, as I can feel hope spur from her words. I try to shield myself, to remind myself that it makes sense to keep a distance. Still I want nothing else than for her to continue.
“If you get to that point, where you know without a doubt that the other person will guide you, put the world to right when it has tilted, it won’t be long before you know what they would have you do in any situation. When you are faced with a challenge, with something that hurts, you will be able to listen to advice that hasn’t even been uttered out loud.”
She pauses, needlessly, to make sure I am listening closely.
“Eventually you will be close enough to know what I would say to you in every moment you hesitate, and that knowledge will be what gets you through.”
“Surely”, I object, voice weak. “I should be able to do that myself.”
She lets the small smile that I already knew of come forward.
“What do you think I would say to that?”
I don’t reply. But I allow myself to move closer to her.