“You can see it in his eyes,” she told me. I’d asked her how she knew he was lost.
I witnessed a recurring theme, continuing to meet a similar type of person that summer, but really it had gone on for lifetimes. My friend explained to me, each of them fell into the category of “lost boy.”
I guess it’s a current trend in society: The quit-everything-and-travel, let’s all find ourselves because underneath it all we have no damn idea what we’re doing and we’re tired of “faking it till we make it,” there must be something more. Everyone I know complains about “Peter Pan Syndrome” like it’s a lost cause we can do nothing about. Time to move on to the next one; he’ll never grow up.
But then I had a revelation, oh, say, about yesterday, that maybe it’s not so much about them. Maybe I’m seeing a reflection in the people that come into my life. I keep meeting lost people even as I say I have no home and I’m lost myself.
Mainly in a playful tone, but when you move around so frequently, you sometimes get caught in the cycle, the churn becomes you, and then eventually you wake up and realize you’ve forgotten your way out. The exit door you can see so clearly becomes completely unmanageable.
And this is when we become aware that we’re lost.
But I don’t think this makes me so different. My lostness is just tangible; it’s on the outside. Inside, I’m as connected as ever. Except for in the moments when I’m not. I bare my heart wide open for the world to see, and then ask myself, Why? What’s the point?
So we feel less alone — okay, standard cookie-cutter response, but then what? Because at the end of the day each of us is alone, and in order for me to stop attracting lost boys I would need to stop acting so lost myself. And that involves action, most of which I’m unwilling to take.
I would need to stop cooking the most elaborate meals for myself some nights, while on others eating lettuce with a side of three dates for dinner. Because we all know cooking for one is simultaneously simple and complex.
I would need to stop wandering about and moving on whims driven by feeling rather than tangible, logical sense like job opportunities and the ability to support myself.
I would need to stop doing things like adopting puppies while overseas and then making myself out to be the victim of all the vagueness of the bureaucratic country I happen to be staying in, but don’t understand one bit.
I would need to stop creating my own mess and then refusing to sit in it. Already on to the next place, person, thing. Whatever drama will temporarily distract me until I run out of distractions and one day have to face myself.
I would need to stop deep-down wanting to be saved.
This is why a relationship between two lost people will never work.
We play imaginary games of hard-to-get, not realizing that when no one else is aware that any such thing is happening, it becomes not so much a game as a fantasy with which we’ve entangled our minds. Losing ourselves even deeper in the process.
We end the relationship before it’s begun.
We stay with the person we know is wrong for us because the alternative is far too difficult.
We chase after stories, living in a world of romantic idealization, because the complexity of our spirits craves impossibilities even as we know deep down none of it is real. We ignore the here and now because the future looks far more beautiful.
We run away from the truth.
But then the opposite, the found person, comes strolling into my life, and this will never work either. Because in order for us to be together, I would need to start living between the highs and the lows, so you could understand. And I did that once before and it numbed me. Past the point of no return, I was frozen in time. I could feel nothing at all.
My present self cries for that former shell of a person as I drive along roads filled with potholes that just about break me, lining crystal waters of the perfect temperature for swimming no matter the time of day. The velvety fur of the love of my life lies perched on my lap. Tears fall and my heart weeps for the girl who was made to believe her feelings were too large or unmanageable for anyone, even for herself.
As I write all of this, I believe none of it. Because there are a million ways to define a person and not one of them fits. And lost or found or otherwise, I believe in something deeper still, and that’s feeling.
And when you know, you know.
This piece was published on Rebelle Society.