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  • Let's start with the truth: you can hear me.

    You're in my head now, what a wonder. I am in a loft, you are at work, you are in a car, you are on the subway (probably not -- bad reception down there), you are in bed -- this is where I like to read -- you are in a different state: Virginia, Ohio, California, Pennsylvania, you are lonely, mostly you are not lonely but sometimes you are. You think I am lonely. You are right. Sometimes I am.

    How many times have you heard a married person say, in the presence of their spouse, "I'm lonely." The answer is not many, possibly bordering zero. This is not because married people are not lonely, it is because married people generally will not confess loneliness to the person whose unfairly unwritten job description is to prevent them from being lonely.

    In some communities it's even talked about, generally referring to the woman: she's lonely in her marriage. There was even a popular song about it a few years ago. The chorus included the lines, "I know we call this our home, but I still feel alone."

    Recently I was out on the roof drinking whiskey with my friend Paul and our conversation eventually led to he and Danielle's young marriage. They were madly in love still, only married a year, and I was confused to hear Paul confess he's still lonely sometimes. No matter how much he and Danielle share with each other, and they share everything, she can never really get inside him; he can only get inside her a little, but not all the way, not ever, no matter how hard they try. Only someone who's able to walk through walls can get inside and know you fully, completely, and that person doesn't talk much.

    It's a strange feeling to catch a glimpse of the next season while the current season is still in full force. It's been-oven hot lately, no trace of a half-year ago's snow, and yet, there it is in the breeze: a coolness. The sun's arc has been sliding down across the sky's dome a little every day, imperceptibly, and yet here we are in a new month with new clothes on the mall racks and school supplies at every store. But I feel it most in the wind.

    The sound for the whisper of the wind in the trees is psithurism. I believe this word is too awkwardly-spelled for anybody to remember it, but it's pronounced "sitherr-iz-um," and I will call it a sither. Outside my window a big tree is sithering, and it is in the sither I detect the first hair of Autumn's head. What color is Autumn's hair to you? I don't see a color, not yet. I am quietly, too quietly, thankful for the plethora of green still surrounding us. It's been hot and I have been ungrateful. Every Winter I long for the warmth and the sun, and my unspoken prayers have been answered times 1.5. Why are we never satisfied?

    I have my suspicions. They begin with a German word:


    It's pronounced zeen-zoocht, which is gutteral enough you can't say it until you're ready to spit.

    It means a longing, pining, yearning, or craving. It's an intense missing. It represents thoughts and feelings about all facets of life that are unfinished or imperfect, paired with a yearning for ideal alternative experiences. The longing is usually accompanied by both positive and negative feelings. It's so good it hurts, or it's so achingly good. The actual word is difficult to translate, but you'll know it if you've felt it, and if you've felt it, you're my people. You're still my friend if you haven't, but you know how it is. The two most powerful words in the English language are short and easy: "Me too."

    I've spent years actively not writing. I wake up and feel the bricks of writing expectation hanging over my head. I go about my day very aware of the bricks, almost always it's a feeling near my forehead and it is an insistent, low-grade pressure. People seek professional help for this type of thing, but I am poor and so I listen to podcasts. Yesterday I heard The Minimalists ask Rob Bell what to do about all of the many things on their plate -- they're so busy. They wanted a dissertation on time management. Instead Rob replied simply, "Everything in your hands, you picked up."

    OK. I decided one night in July while laying in my hot room and listening to the Cicadas that I was going to enter a swim-bike-run contest. I made training my goal. Around that time -- the middle of July -- I woke up and the bricks were gone. I didn't realize this until a few weeks later, having a conversation with a writer-friend. "How's the non-writing going?" she asked. It was then it hit me like a ton of bricks: the bricks were gone! I had another goal, a physical one, this is my body on the ground, this is my body on wheels, this is my body scooting across the water surface like a bug. Bricks are heavy and I am weak, so I dropped the bricks without even knowing it. I dropped them because I was doing something else. This is important: I was doing something else, not thinking about doing something else. Everything in my hands I picked up. Everything in my hands I dropped.

    I hope eventually you are able to admit your loneliness. It's not that bad, and it's important to know that everybody feels it, and there's probably nothing wrong with your significant other. Nobody can be completely inside you. You've been inside me for about 10 minutes now, and I'm glad you were able to come in. But I've lived for about fifteen hundred minutes today, so you only know about 0.06% of my September 1 existence, and if the experts are right, we have multiple thoughts every second, all day, all night, all life. Wherever you are, thanks for being with me here in northern Michigan for a tiny bit of time. I hope you heard the sithering.
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