I read a book that talked about loneliness - it said that we weren't meant to be alone, that love and community are at the centre of what it is to be human, that God created Eve because without her Adam wasn't complete.
I struggle to be alone. I get lost in silence of an empty house, I don't know where to put my hands, where to sit, what to eat. A free day, spread out like a canvas with no plans and no one but myself to fill it with, can fill me with anxiety. I feel that I should at least be productive - improve my mind with a book, get some exercise, vacuum the carpets.
What am I so scared of?
I've been sick these last days. Not lying in bed in a feverish stupor kind of sick; just a low-level flu that prevents me from going to work but opens my days to different possibilities. Some of these days I have spent at my own house, away from David, where it is empty and quiet. I have watched BBC history documentaries on You Tube. I have improved my mind with books. I have gone round the corner to buy vegetables from that flirtatious old Italian man. And then I have stopped. The sound of an excited BBC presenter no longer blearing from my computer. The trams whirring by in the distance. The light growing dim in a cold room, wind swishing the trees outside.
And I've felt alone. Lonely, even. And I've sat, and thought, until even my thoughts get too noisy. I've felt that empty spot inside, as empty as my silent empty house. I light a candle - it just feels like the right thing to do. And I sit and wait.
Was that what I was scared of?
For how long can I sit here, and what will happen if I do?
When I marry, will my empty spot inside go away? Will Adam ever fill it? I'm not sure if I want him to. I feel like God flickers in that spot.
I wrote a list of all the boys I'd ever kissed, ever rolled around in bed with. It was a long list. Mainly, I realised, in most of those boys and men, I was escaping loneliness. Escaping the sensation of emptiness, which begs to be sated like hunger. I wondered whether I had been damaged by this trail of sexual experiences, whether my purity was tainted and my soul scarred the way that the Christian writers who write about chastity tell me it will be. I don't really know - we are all damaged, but it's hard to know what from. But one thing I did realise was that by kissing boys, I lost an opportunity. I sense there is a great wealth inside our internal empty spots - and I think we all have one. I didn't want to come near that wealth. It was easier to kiss boys, which were like fairy floss to a growling stomach. What might have emerged from my empty spot inside?
These days, I hear the rumble of loneliness less. My love and companionship with David is like wholesome bread. But the spot is still there, and though it's the very arms of God that stretch out from our friends, family and lovers, God still flickers in that very inner place that no friend, no lover, no brother, will ever reach.
There will always be a part of us that is alone. I will try to thank God for that.