This post wandered through one of my feeds yesterday—the words, "Portland" and "loneliness" catching my eyes. After about two-and-a-half years, as wonderful and friendly as Portland is, I've also felt astonishingly lonely. Friends of mine who've passed through here for a couple of years say the same. I've lived in a lot of cities, (including the author's Brooklyn) and several countries and don't think I've ever felt so isolated on a day-to-day basis.
It's interesting to me how this feeling over time, does indeed lead one into the depths of insanity. I think this is most exemplified by my slight obsession with a fitbit last winter. Abandoning my vow to never be one of those "tools" who openly display some level of obsession with health, I bought one, (I told myself,) in order to track and therefore (somehow) help manage my sleep.
After several weeks, I began to enjoy the thing. It gave me something to interact with on a daily basis—upon waking I'd check in on another night of erratic sleep (I still don't know how I thought this data was going to help me fix it,) those four days I tracked my water intake, and every afternoon my bracelet would buzz and flash in celebration when I'd stepped enough. It was more positive affirmation than I'd had in some time.
In December, we went back to Michigan to visit family. On Christmas Eve, I looked down at my wrist...and noticed that it was gone. I panicked. Retracing every step that day, I drove back to the grocery store, combed the house with my computer and toggle on scan, and set the entire family on an All Points Bulletin. Most embarrassingly of all, (as if there is a most here) I put up a Craigslist post for the parking lot of the stores I'd visited earlier. I'm pretty sure I cried.
At some point it hit me and I said to my mom, "I think the real reason I'm so upset about this stupid thing, is that I'm just so desperately lonely."
I think it's true that social isolation, (even more than being a fitbit user,) is horribly stigmatized. And the more we don't talk about the shame around it, the more isolated we become—bashing us deeper into the void of loneliness. A positive feedback loop from hell.
I did end up finding my fitbit—in an ironic twist, it had fallen into the meat-drawer in the fridge. I haven't been interested in putting it back on, however. Something about the previous realization was enough to put me off of it, and was, truly, far more valuable data than the ones it was intended to be tracking.