"I'm the kind of person who likes to be alone, to explain it better, I'm the kind of person who does not find it painful to be alone"
-Raymond Carver "What we talk about when we talk about love"
It was already five in the afternoon when Alejandro started talking. He is an engineer and sometimes that gave him the right to do so. We were still in his apartment, located in one of the most wealthy areas of the suburbs, in the middle of his extravagant dining room, surrounded by all kinds of different expensive oak and marble furniture and with a painting made of mere scratches of colors that contrasted, whose price -which in fact little surprised me- was in the millions, hung solemnly on the wall behind us. We were sitting around the glass table he had just bought on which he had only one metal bucket overflowing with ice cubes and a bottle of gin highlighting lying inside the bucket. We had been talking for about half an hour and the discussion had, for no apparent reason, entered into the subject of loneliness. Moving away, a robust-looking, tall, thin man with broad shoulders who wore a fine gray cotton suit with a thin and expensive red tie, said in a calm tone that according to him, the people who were alone were because that It was what they wanted, that nobody was truly alone if they did not want it
-all is a reason of wanting, - he said while taking a sip of gin-if one does not want, it does not happen. It 's that simple
I briefly looked at the faces of my tablemates. With only a faint direct look in his eyes you could see that, consciously or unconsciously, they were silently in agreement with him. Wilson, the youngest of the five and also the quietest of the group. He was listening as he contemplated without saying a word his glass half empty. He was a short, rather fat guy who wore a cheap blue shirt that faintly imitated the elegant shirt that one would get at a higher price, as well as inexpensive khaki pants that matched perfectly with the rest of his attire. He was someone who could be called calm, although it was impossible to get to know him beyond that image that he showed to the naked eye. Beside him was Sandra, a jovial woman who seemed to be in a certain way involved in a cult or something like that, although in reality she was just an unconventional person. She went around with his talk about angels and about all kinds of government conspiracies, wearing an ivory-colored wide skirt with her long brown hair hanging down to her back. She was more than anything a hippie who was sometimes hard to bear, but harder to forget. And finally there was Álvaro, whom we all affectionately called Al, who was apparently the most everyday person on the planet. He was an average person in most aspects of his life: height, weight, age, his sense of humor, his way of dressing and talking ... with the slight exception that the rumor that was wrapped in the middle of a scandal by fraud and corruption in the insurance company for which he worked , although every time someone asked him about it, he denied it, sweating and stuttering all the way. He wore one of those simple dark blue suits he barely had left and the unprofessional patches he had been forced to make on his shirt could be seen on his narrow shoulders.
It had been several years since we had managed to reunite, each one seeing himself absorbed in their lives and in their jobs, until finally fate eventually brought us together under less preferable circumstances than we would have preferred to be. It had been difficult enough to finally start a conversation-we did not know what to say about what had brought us to that place-and that not having seen us for so long meant that we had become complete strangers to each other if not for a thin thread of memory that we had in the depths of our brains. We had finished dinner and we could watch the sky blacken over us, wrapping us in the middle of its frozen and desolate darkness. The sky was stained with a red tinge with the cold, light air surrounding us as time passed. The ice in the bucket had already begun to melt as we finished drinking that bottle of cheap gin I had bought on the way to the meeting.
-I think you're right- Al said, ending the awkward silence between us -I would suppose that there is always going to be someone who is there for you unconditionally, be it your mom, dad, brothers or even the barista of the cafeteria ...
You could see how Wilson nodded slowly, although the expression on his face seemed to say he had barely understood what he had just said. I took another sip from my glass while thinking about what I could say about it. Sandra started to state her point
-It's true ... not to mention that even the loneliest people in the world have some kind of company, be it God, Buddha or his spirit animal - she mentioned with the best convincing tone that she could do. I took another sip of gin and without much thought I said, speaking softly, as if I was speaking to myself .
-though sometimes things are not as we think- and I finished my glass.
For a second, probably the second longest of my life, everyone at the table stood watching me in silent contemplation, looking at me as if I were some circus freak . No one decided to speak for a long time until Alejandro, who with an air of hypocrisy, resumed the conversation.
- Excuse me? - It was apparently the only thing that managed to leave his lips.
-To what I mean is that it is not the rule to be alone, but that does not mean that it doesn't happen, whether you like it or not- I ended up responding after thinking about my answer for a long time. I just finished when with a laugh Alejandro interrupted me and told me
-no offense, but I think you're completely wrong- he commented smugly looking directly at me, as if he was about to teach me something valuable -the thing is that it is simply impossible to be truly alone if you do not want it. To be alone you are be forced to keep everyone around you away, not just physically speaking, in each and every aspect of your life and that is quite complicated to do if you do not really want it.
Again, everyone seemed to agree with him silently. I have to admit that, despite disagreeing with him, he was quite convincing. As he used to say things with an incredible tone of authority, sounding so sure of himself, as if he knew the answer to all the different types of mysteries of the cryptic universe that surrounded us. I took my time as I found the best argument to defend my point against something as convincing as what he had just said. After several seconds of thinking, I ended up answering
-I think that sometimes, no matter what, people are forced to live in solitude, that there are times when people are abandoned by the people around them, not them who make them go away
- Excuse me for a second, but you said that sometimes people were abandoned in solitude, could you explain it a little more? - Al interrupted me, speaking without stopping to breathe, imitating the best (or worse) that could the tone of authority with which Alejandro spoke. Again I was forced to quickly think of a wise answer to the question that my opponents presented to me.
-What I mean is that there are times when some people are simply separated from the rest of the people, as if they were foreigners in the society in which they live. For example, in the case when parents abandon their newborn in an orphanage apparently for no reason ...- I began to respond, trying to remain calm, but I was suddenly interrupted
-Well, how would you know if the parents, when leaving their baby, did not have a reason why they did it? - Sandra asked me suddenly, apparently genuinely interested in my answer. Maybe it had to do with the fact that she had been adopted by parents who apparently had not made it out of the sixties. I was pretty sure that she didn't liked the idea that her biological parents discarded her, apparently for the sake of it . I swallowed and cautiously replied
-to what I mean is that, if we supposed for a moment...
- suppose? Then we could also assume that I am the strongest person in the world- Al interrupted me in the blink of an eye, releasing an obscene laugh when he finished. Then, mockingly laugh at his impertinent comment for several seconds, I replied
-Well, is it possible, right ? - and I poured myself another glass of gin - it could happen ...
-Even though is not likely- Alejandro interrupted me again - besides, that in that order of ideas one could also say that in possible they find aliens on Mars, but that does not make it likely to happen
I remained quiet, thoughtful while listening to Sandra saying that 'it was true the theories about the aliens in Mars'. I knew it was unlikely but I did not see another way to explain my point. I thought maybe I could use another example, and like that, I spontaneously told him that, if he did not believe in that example, he could take an example of suicidal people.
-most people who commit suicide usually do so because of loneliness. They commonly say that loneliness was so great that it was more painful for them to live another day than to die. And honestly I don't think that there's really someone who wants to die without reason
They remained silent, again contemplating me. I took a sip again, watching Alejandro, with a smile, slowly shake his head in disbelief. He grabbed the bottle and left it beside his glass that overflowed to the brim with gin. He looked at me again with a look that showed the irritation that this discussion was beginning to cause him .
-in fact, most suicidals are people who are clinically depressed or have a serious illness, as well they really don't come to the case of this discussion ...
-... but we also have to admit that everyone is somehow looking for some kind of connection with others. No matter who you are, the human being is a species that requires living in society to survive. Many times people can't find that kind of connection with others, also I don't think that people really like to be alone. They are just things that happen.
Al and Sandra began to argue silently among themselves while the smile that was embedded between the lips of Alejandro disappeared in the blink of an eye. He raised his glass and, with a single sip, drank all the contents of it and refilled it to the top.
-you still in the same error. You still believe that among the 7 billion people on this planet there are people who, in some extraordinary way, manage to be completely separated from all of them. It just is not possible for something like that to happen- he explained in a tone of irritation mixed with anger, moving his hands without ceasing.
Again all eyes fell on me . Apparently we were going back and forth between Alejandro and i. I could feel something similar to anger beginning to form inside of me. This time I decided not to give so many turns to the answer I was going to give, so I ended up telling him the first thing that seemed to me at the very least convincing that appeared in my mind.
- then how can you explain that every day are increasingly more cases of people suffering from depression? And what do you tell me that they are more and more suicides? What I mean is that, they may not be completely isolated from the world around them, but those that they manage to maintain lack any true intimacy or meaning- I replied obfuscated, although trying to hide it as best I could.
- then it's their fault for not being able to look for a relationship that does mean something! - He ended up screaming at me, losing all control for those brief, although shocking seconds , throwing himself against me (i was at the opposite side of the table), staring at me with a clear and deep anger apparently against me. After a few seconds of a peculiar and uncomfortable silence, he coughed and breathed deeply, apparently trying to regain control. -It would be their fault for being so conformist about it , although obviously they are in desire for something better.
We stayed Looking at each other in complete silence, the tension was so exuberant among us that it could have been cut with a knife. I have to say that both him and I were a drop away from our patience being filled, we had been provoking one against the other apparently since I took the first step in that place. I'm not sure why we used to be friends, if neither of us could really tolerate each other. In fact, now that I write this in retrospect, actually it could be that the two of us were completely wrong about loneliness. It was undoubtedly a subject too complicated to summarize in a couple of sentences, as we were trying to do. I sincerely believe that none of us knew what We talked about when we talked about loneliness. Our other dinner companions had gone a little bit away from us and they looked astonished at this sudden outbreak of apparently unjustified violence, especially Sandra. Time passed slowly amid the silence, until unannounced heard a voice that had an almost whispering, melodious tone mixed with the faint hiss of night air that slid through the thin opening between the window and the wall of the dining room.
- And then?