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ALONE VS. ALONE

I have had this idea of myself, alone.
In it I am cool.  I carry a bag that I have packed very well, and I listen to my ipod often, because it has a lot of interesting and inspiring music, which makes me feel both comforted and adventurous. I take trains by myself, and I amuse myself with my thoughts.
I party by myself, and take pictures of myself.  I am serious. I ride my bike to a club and get drunk alone and check out strangers, and move around the dance floor thinking about how much physical space there is between the continent that I am on and another continent like Europe. When I am in the bathroom I take a picture of myself on the toilet, to show myself later. Is the picture secretly to show to someone else later, when I am telling them about how cool it was to be by myself all night?
In the vision of cool me alone, the answer is no.  The picture is absolutely for me, because I think it is funny.

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I am putting this vision of myself to the test in my current trip to Canada. I am writing from the middle of the experiment. My job as the subject of the experiment is to report honestly on how the various factors are making me feel.
I can report, that reporting on my actual feelings about being alone makes me feel a little bit embarrassed by the results.

Here is the thing about being alone: It’s really easy to end up feeling like you’re all alone. I look around and notice that there is no one here with me. This could form a mathematic equation, suggesting that out of all the people in the world (5.5 billion?) none of them are with me right now, meaning that all of them have chosen to not be with me right now, and well, why wouldn’t any of them want to be with me? Not even one of them?

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The math behind this statement is pretty subjective.
It ignores the fact that I am choosing to be alone because I want to.
But it’s pretty accurate about how it actually feels sometimes.
I end up feeling a little nerdy and exposed.

I jaywalked while crossing the street in Toronto today, trying to catch a streetcar. A car came careening around the corner and I kind of skittered and tripped across the street, avoiding the car, josltling my stupid rolling suitcase behind me and getting it a little bit stuck in the streetcar tracks. I was very aware of how dorky I must have looked, and I started laughing.
I will admit to you here that part of my laughing was probably a sort of protection. If anyone else had seen that I looked stupid, then they could look at my face and know that I was aware of it too.
Admitting something as dumb as that entire train of thought, is kind of how it feels to me to be alone these days.

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August 3, 2006

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