Forty One Years of Solitude
At 1:30 a.m. this morning, I read the final lines of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s book One Hundred Years of Solitude and found myself filled with a troubling melancholy. Setting the book down, I poured another glass of wine and took it onto the back porch to think in the quiet solitude of the early morning hours.
I both loved and hated this novel. Almost equally.
Marquez calls the fantastical into existence as evenly as he depicts the day to day realities and struggles that face the characters in the isolated town of Macondo. Remedios the Beauty, still alive, rises into the air and ascends directly to heaven. Passionate love spreads its fertility into the surrounding countryside and animals. Rebels continue fighting against injustice only to find themselves becoming the very thing they hate.
This is a world where a man can be shot and his blood can navigate a courtyard, turning this way and that until it finds his mother to announce his death. A world of flying carpets and shipwrecks in the middle of the jungle. A world filled with vibrantly sad creatures who mostly orbit one other without truly connecting.
The word, “solitude” is echoed throughout the book as characters find themselves isolated by choice or circumstance. They return from death because they cannot bear the solitude, they lose themselves in the solitude of their power, and they occasionally find the paradise of shared solitude as in the case of Petra Cotes and Aureliano Segundo.
This of course resonates with me as I reflect upon my own life. As I watch friends find lovers and settle down, I can’t help but wonder at my own solitude. I’ve had many joyous, passionate and fulfilling relationships and yet I find myself in these early hours of the morning wanting to discuss this book with someone. And there’s nobody here but the echoes of my own thoughts.
Ironically as I’m thinking this, I receive a text from a potential beau who wants to meet this week. I’ve been reluctant to meet him because we’ve been texting for months. He travels a lot and then I was MIA for a few weeks seeing where another relationship might take me. But regardless, I feel if we were going to meet, we would have done so already.
And so I tell him as much and he says we should give it a shot. I tell him maybe I’m just feeling melancholy because of a book I’d just finished and tell him the title and ask if he’s read it. He hasn’t. I find my interest waning. Not because he hasn’t read the book but because he doesn’t ask me any questions about it. I want to discuss this damn book with someone and I’m still left with only my own thoughts to mull over.
Perhaps I want too much. I’ve never been satisfied with just having a skilled lover or easy companion. I’ve always wanted a partner who understood me at a deeper level, who doesn’t always agree with me nor I with him but with whom I could still debate the mysteries of the world.
I’ve always wanted someone who wasn’t frightened by my honesty. Who was strong enough to take it and also to give it back.
Or perhaps I’m just starting to realize what many others distract themselves from knowing by settling for whoever happens to be nearest them.
We’re always in solitude.
Even in heights of passion, shared laughter and conversation with others, we are completely alone. We might strive to connect but we can never completely do so. Even at a molecular level, we’re really only vibrating near one another.
Perhaps my search for true connection is futile and my only option is to seek out a partner for shared solitude. Someone who will respect my orbit as I respect his. Someone I want to gravitate towards but am not afraid to lose in the moments we push apart. Someone I can have passionate moments with as well as shared silence and filled moments of solitude.
Perhaps like Colonel Aureliano Buendia’s golden fish, I can swim separate and yet on the same path as another.