November 2, 2011

Inappropriately Heartfelt

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People often ask me why I write this column. What purpose does my cynicism serve? And, for that matter, when did I become cynical? Most people assume I had a terrible break-up and have become somewhat skeptical of the L-word as a means of coping. Am I a woman scorned? Hell hath fury greater than mine, so no, not quite.

The fact of the matter is that I write so I don’t feel alone. And honestly, would you read me if I wrote about bunnies and dandelions? Um, no. No one wants to read a column by a girl who shits rainbows.

When I think of someone who is alone, I picture, well, a loner. But there’s more to it than that. Paul Tillich once said, “Our language has wisely sensed the two sides of being alone. It has created the word loneliness to express the pain of being alone. And it has created the word solitude to express the glory of being alone.”

Let’s say it’s Saturday night. I leave a party and think, “Where do I go now? Do I float on to another party? Do I call it a night and head to my apartment so I can snuggle with my Pillow Pet (a monkey that I named Camel)?” Usually I find these options rather tempting, but there is the odd night or two when Camel isn’t enough — when I want a warm body to snuggle with.

I had one of these moments last week (mostly, you will see, as a side-effect of being single). I found myself thinking, “Why am I alone?” Why wasn’t anyone trying to date me? If we’re being realists, the answer is that I’m neurotic (and if you have read my column, why in the world would you want to date me?). But when your thought process is impaired (as it often is on a Saturday night), you don’t remember what circumstances (good or bad) have led you to this single-ness. At least I didn’t. So I texted a guy who I don’t particularly like because I didn’t want to feel alone.

It sounds like a stupid idea, doesn’t it? Calling up a semi-random guy so I wouldn’t feel alone. Nevertheless, I did. Then I semi-embarrassingly invited myself over. We spooned that night and in the morning I woke up to some sporking (which is like spooning, except with a man who has an erection). Afterward I walked home in last night’s clothes (and with what was left of my dignity), and I felt just as alone as I did the night before.

Make no mistake about it, I don’t think being single means that you are alone. You can feel alone even when you are dating someone and you can feel entirely together (is that the opposite of alone?) when you’re single. There are also countless reasons you might feel alone that are completely unrelated to your relationship status. All I meant by my example is that every so often being single is lonely.

I don’t write alternate Thursdays so I can slowly brainwash you to form an army of like-minded minions, skeptical of love and other lies your girlfriend told you. I write my column because however many friends, doting secret admirers and partners in crime we may have, they don’t inoculate us against loneliness. I don’t know what it is that makes some days so different from others — what makes us sometimes want to wallow in our loneliness and other times bask in our solitude. But some days are just rough.

I detail love’s afflictions so you know you aren’t the only one who has felt them. I explain why I don’t think long-distance relationships can work so you don’t feel like he broke up with you because he doesn’t care about you, but because sometimes the distance is too much — sometimes it makes our hearts forget instead of growing fonder. Other times, I write that us red-blooded Americans (and internationals) should go celibate just to make you laugh, because that’s good too.

Ultimately, I write to connect with you, the reader. Because whoever you are, I care about you. I don’t mean that in an inspirational-talk-at-the-end-of-a-movie-to-give-it-a-moral way. I just mean that I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to feel alone and how important it is to know that you’re not. And if this column was too heartfelt and mushy, if it sounds like I wrote it after watching a sappy movie, I’m sorry (and, for the record, the only things I’ve watched recently are Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the Scream trilogy). But know that in two weeks, I will be back in full force. I will be more cynical and heartless than you can imagine.

Hazel Gunapala is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She may be reached at hgunapala@cornellsun.com. Appropriately Cyn­ical appears alternate Thurs­days this semester.

Original Author: Hazel Gunapala