The Importance of Solitude in Crowded Places

Illustration by Maggie Chiang - "Explorers"

Illustration by Maggie Chiang - "Explorers"

At first, I thought of doing this in the form of spoken word poetry. I decided against it, because the way the sentences were forming in my head, I realized, the way to say them was with head slightly tilted backward, sitting, perhaps with a glass in hand (groan, I still maintain the “I am not twenty-one yet” scheme, okay?), the words coming out as unassuming as steam from a hot cup of tea but tangible in its gentle heat.

We are all made for different liquor appetites. I find crowds or prolonged company in general are like a tequila shot. I take a swig, I bite in on the lime, and the rest of my buzz is mine and mine alone.

If you find one of us at a party, don’t be fooled and think we are uninvolved. Neither are we uninvolved nor self-involved. Solitude is not solely meant for exploring oneself. At the end of the party, we would know more about what went on throughout the night.

In our solitude, we work as the observer. That is one of the two primary things that we do. How that one friend from school we lost touch with runs her hand through her hair every time she speaks to a stranger, how that one acquaintance from college we never really approved of keeps checking his phone with sudden breaks in his festive expression.

There’s nothing we can do about it. We have bred ourselves with our cheeks pressed to windows. The second principal thing we do is – well, yes, I have to agree with your sneers – reflect. Not just on ourselves, but on, well, everything.

That old friend from school keeps running her hand through her hair. How lusciously she has built her appearance up. She looked like a scared kitten back in school. Beneath the make-up, she still is. How many of us have actually changed since school? How far can a sudden infatuation with Coldplay and The Arctic Monkeys take us?

He looks so troubled when he checks his phone. Perhaps something happened with his girlfriend – he wouldn’t resemble a sad Joseph Gordon-Levitt if it were family or work. Why didn’t we ever become friends in college? What did I pin him as? What did he pin me as?

It’s funny, how the one who is always labelled the outcast often carries the history behind the rest of all the labels.

No, this is not an elitist declaration. Yes, sometimes, to spite the struggle we go through for not fitting in with the ease with which the rest of them do, we ferment our citrus bitterness into arrogance.

There are a thousand stages to solitude. The one above might fall somewhere in the early timeline, after existential crises, but always before self-evaluation. This piece is not set in the self-evaluation stage either. It is at the end, where everything seeks an explanation, a bottom line.

This is just how it is.

If crowds and company are tequila shots, this is red wine. Not exactly sweet, not exactly bitter, but to be taken, for the sake of calmness, slowly

Submitted to ArtParasites by JourneyMan aka Saintbrush