I am relatively unfamiliar with the experience of loneliness; allowing myself to feel is still a novelty, and it is easy for me to be overwhelmed by things not of the intellect.

That isn't good enough. I must learn more. So in an attempt to make sense of things, I often write them, stepping back into a careful description of not why, but when and where and what. Sometimes I find I have mislabeled them. Sometimes I find I can control them or myself. This one has stymied me, so I will try again.

This is what it feels like to me, the thing I call loneliness: elbows shoving into the middle of my diaphragm, rising up to grasp my sternum from below and gouging into my chest with it, crushing down and in, so a tight sadness weeps into the tissues, pools and swells them. A strong grip, with the rhythm of slow thunder, deep shakes in massive waves, again... and again... and again.

It is not hard to breathe, but it is hard to breathe. It does not hurt, but it does; I can brush it aside, put it away, push through, but it stands there, a ghost, substantial.

It does not mean my days are idle or my work slower or the company I keep inadequate; it can exist simultaneously with great happiness and great contentment, and I am happy with school, in school, happy to spend some weekends with my cousins and my parents, happy to have my own space (actually the first apartment I've been truly fond of, though it isn't perfect -- working on it!) and life is good and I am proud of it.

I miss community, a common hangout space; I'm working on building and finding those things physically here, and could rejoin my late-night online haunts, though there is less that ties me there now for whatever reasons (possibly fixable). I miss teamwork, having a band of brothers and sisters to rely on, and who rely on me; so much of my work now is individual. There are things I can do to rebalance that, and I should look more into that. I miss people, so I have started writing letters; sometimes I get replies, and that feels good.

There's no quick fix. You build these sorts of ties and threads slowly in life, and too often I have been running and rebooting because that's easier short-term. And there's no long-term fix, either; no matter how blessed you are with people around you, there will always be bouts of solitude, even in the midst of those who know you best.

What I'm trying to learn is how to sit with this tension and this discomfort, how to blend with it and let it go, and what to do.