"What are some things about yourself that you don't tell other people?"
The question took me brutally by surprise. I was sitting comfortably with my back against the wall, in the upstairs bedroom of an old Cambridge house. Lazily, I had just pulled on my trousers and a tank top, and was drinking wine from the bottle and playing music on the tablet to my friend who was daydreaming on the bed. In through the window filtered a lukewarm orange spring sunset, to the smell of drizzle and tree blossoms.
I most certainly had not expected such brutal inquisition in such a tranquil space of intimacy.
It was the second time that week that I had independently been asked that same question, and it freaked me out. Not because I am genuinely hiding anything, but because I've gone to great lengths to rid my life of toxicity and negativity, and I wasn't ready to even want to open up that Pandora's box in my head.
"Well, I suppose... trauma. I don't tell other people about my emotional trauma because in my mind, I relate to it as growth pain, and I don't want it to be trivialized."
"Do you think that's what I'd do? Trivialize you?"
"I don't know. I can't trust whether you'd..."
I stopped. My friend rolled over on the bed, and was now staring me straight in the eye with a predatory smile.
"You have trust issues :-)."
I felt slightly repulsed by the apparent hasty judgement. Of course I had trust issues. Doesn't everyone have trust issues? I was beginning to feel claustrophobic again, trapped by having to profess to the emotional conflict between my Nietzschian belief system on one hand, and my desire for a just and honest world on the other hand. I felt my heart race, and I was struggling to resist the emotional fight-or-flight taking hold of me.
"Look... we will always be alone. Whether we listen to music, talk, make love, or sleep in the same bed... we will always be alone in our minds. We can look to each other for evidence of companionship: the little gestures we make every day, and our continued relationship. But we will never cease to be mysteries to each other, mere projections of a formless conscience through the respective lenses of our past -- our trauma. I see love as a deliberate process of getting to know aspects of each other's trauma-constructed reality. But there can never be a true union, we can never truly know each other; we were born, and will die alone. And I cannot trust something I do not know. Knowing, loving and trusting each other are all different names for the same thing. But we'll always be alone in our heads, so none of the three is truly, irrevocably possible..."
My friend rolled back on the bed, and went quiet for a while. The song stopped playing, and I turned back to the tablet on my lap to look for another one. I lingered undecidedly. Suddenly, my friend let out:
"I don't think true selfless love can exist, either. Stretch anything thinly enough, and it will break. But if one fakes it for 50-60 years, that would be enough. Of course, it will have to be a carefully deliberated conscious compromise. It's something you have to want to believe in."
I stayed the night. A few months ago, I turned 26. Some days I wake up and I feel like I understand everything, love everyone, and accept past pain as part of the making of my own self. And other days, I'll wake up overwhelmed, consumed by sadness, and fall prey to the hurt.
I woke up the following morning, turned to my friend, and pulled us closer to each other under the covers with a kiss. We are all lonely, scared, incredibly hurtful and dangerous conscious beings lost in time. Some of us have long died, and some are yet to be born.
But I suppose, when we talk, if even for a brief moment, we are lost together.