Not One Person

Image by John Kannenberg on Flickr.

I remember it was summer vacation and I’d just turned nine. My house sat in a row alongside others atop a hill in our Florida suburb. As I did most mornings that summer, I planned to ride my bike downhill to my best friend’s house where we could build Lego spacecrafts, have lengthy discussions regarding necessary propulsion and trajectory for a successful launch, and occasionally eat something besides butterscotch and caramel corn.

But I didn’t do all of those things that day.

I can still recall setting off from my driveway that morning, making the turn off of my street to head downhill, the early sun baking one side of my face as I glided with my feet off of the pedals, letting the steep slope pull me along.

Yeah, I love how our minds can still recall all of those details.

My mind recalls the rest, too.

It recalls the moment I realized the road in front of me wasn’t looking the way it normally did.

It recalls how the horizon titled suddenly. How the asphalt first felt as my foot and elbow scraped into it. How my body glided down the hill, the steep slope pulling me along.

We all fall. I’d fallen plenty of times before that. But that time was different.

I pulled myself to the sidewalk, dragging my bike with me. I looked around to see if anybody had seen me, if anyone was rushing to help me up and take me home. There was no one. Not a single car on the street. Not a cloud in the sky.

This is the first time I can remember that I ever pondered existence. It was the first time I ever felt truly alone. I needed help, but there was none. I remember the exact thoughts I had and it’s something that I still whisper to myself:

“That’s it? Not one person?”

I sat there sobbing and holding my limbs for probably ten minutes. By my estimation, my relative position on the street was most likely closer to my friend’s house than it was to mine, but somehow I felt more terrified of what my friend would think of me showing up to his place crying than limping uphill all the way home, enduring more pain than necessary.

I still feel lonely.

I’ve become adept as concealing it and don’t always show it to loved ones or friends, but I do. I still feel lonely and it feels precisely like it did that morning. Even if surrounded by people, I’ll look around sometimes and see no one.

“That’s it? Not one person?”

Listening to John talk about time passing on this week’s episode reminded me how little I’ve changed in some ways. How we make these leaps, travel across states and countries, learn to communicate in a half-dozen tongues, create things that bring joy to others, and yet can still feel like we’ve… failed in some way.

Listen to this week’s episode, Air, Dreams, and Water:

Written by Nizar Babul of Comatose.

Comatose is a weekly series of amusing anecdotes, insightful commentary, and pithy stories. Every week three contributors are featured in short segments. The segments, though often unrelated, are tied together using music and narration to set the scene. Relax and enjoy the ride while listening to topics as varied as love, birthdays, and reciprocity.

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