It’s something I should be used to, crushing loneliness, a world on my shoulders. Such a fucking orphan, cry for me, tell me another one. How you looked out on your graduation and saw no-one, how you don’t have a home to go back to. The nights you could well have died, bled out, overdosed in your bedroom and no-one would have known because nobody cared to check. It only strengthened other loves, of course, fostered a dependence on a man and his family that you resent. It leaves a bitter taste in your mouth, this desperate needing so sour, so unnecessary. It is safer, less painful, alone.
So many achievements to please yourself and they aren’t enough for your father to appear and take ownership. To say “sorry, I made a mistake.” or even: “that’s my daughter, look what she can do.” but what can I do? Cry and write diatribes on the ineptitude of adults and the things they should do for me, but I am twenty-three and old enough to care for a baby of my own. Only not useful enough, not well grown, because I never could get in trouble and just come home.
Tell me all about it. As if you are the one, the only child who got a black eye, whose head cracked in two, who starved until she was old enough to feed herself. Who has things buried in her broken head that no-one can dig out, but they do come out – in the most violent, graceless, flailing of ways. But I work so hard because I know nothing else. I know not that kitchen table, Sunday dinners, hot chocolate. I know scraps and dinner at a friends and can-I-borrow-some-cash. Ostracised when my friends are sick of it because they too are children.
Now I am here, again, to graduate alone. Stand in front of strangers knowing that I am here because of my own endless perseverance, but that it’s a small prize for a lifetime of loneliness. I have only ever found peace in pages and on the screen. Tell me again about that overgrown garden, the river where you found wine-drenched solace, cry about the evenings alone and I will tell you that everyone has felt that way.
But so few people have to graduate alone – don’t remind me.