A moment of pure, raw need.
More than a moment, an hour, a night. A whole week.
But not for sex, as in the free-love booty call of urban legend. For love. For connectedness. Is it any easier to come by in the post-sexual-revolution, post-nuclear-family modern city? No, it’s not. It feels impossible.
I have probably twenty people I could call right now. Fifteen of them would not answer their phone. Of those, most would not return a message, not within a few days, and some maybe never.
Right at this moment, there are seven people who I’ve contacted in the last couple of days, close friends and family, who have not responded yet in any way. This is the reality of the connected age.
From the five who answer, and, say, another five who would get back to me tomorrow, or the next day, what can I expect? A few minutes. Ten maybe. Fifteen minutes max. Hang in there mate. Things are bound to look up soon. Look after yourself. Must catch up soon.
There are five hundred minutes between now and dawn. I can fill fifty of them by calling on my friends and family. But I can’t do that tomorrow night, and the next night. Then I’ll be on my own.
Call any time. We’re here for you. For a few minutes, the few times a week we’ll actually pick up. But yeah, any time.
No doubt sleep will rescue me from most of them. Most of those minutes.
But then. But then.
I am a compassionate, passionate, sensitive, loving person. I’m even intelligent, somewhat good looking, and have a good job, for what those things are worth. I’m as desperate to give love as I am to receive it. More so. And I’m good at loving, I’ve been told.
And yet. I am alone and in pain. I don’t want to be alone. I certainly don’t want to be in pain. So what do I want? What can you do for me?
Listen to me. Hear me. Don’t judge, don’t problem solve, don’t multi-task. Don’t be too busy, don’t have to run, don’t have a short attention span, stay with me, hang in there with me. It’s a journey, it’s a process. Be my companion on that journey. Stay engaged. Let there be silences. Don’t try to move the conversation along. We’re not here to make a decision or achieve a resolution. We’re here to put in the time.
Understand, where you can. Empathize, where you can’t understand. Accept, where you can do neither. Listen, listen. Offer your thoughts, but don’t take every opportunity to talk about yourself. This one’s about me. Your turn will come.
Don’t take my pain on. Hear it, accept it, empathize. But I don’t need you to feel it. I don’t need both of us to be in anguish. I don’t want to devastate you, I want you to help heal me.
And just be there, be there, be there, for as long as it takes. Until I can’t cry anymore. Until I’m too tired to feel. Until there’s a dawning in my soul, of calm, of peace. Even if it’s the calm of exhaustion, it still says that there is something other than pain.
Be there for that. Be there with me. It won’t take that long, it won’t take all night. An hour. Maybe two, rarely. And I won’t need it every night. Fill me with love and compassion, it will last me a good long while. Be there, and then gently leave me with reassurances and love, and tell me that you’ll be there again when I need it. And mean that. Really mean it. I won’t abuse the privilege.
Oh, my cherished twenty close friends and family, I would do that for any one of you, whenever and as often as you needed it. Is it only me that values this? And you each are craving some other thing, that I don’t imagine and so never think to offer? But it takes time, to learn each other’s ways and needs. And we don’t talk about it in the time we have. And maybe it’s only me that wants to anyway.