I was having a cosy dinner with my friend. The meal was nice and warming, and it brought up warm steam within us from unhealed wounds. My friend was gently and gradually curling outwards, like blossoming rose petals. With each word she said, she offered me a glimpse to her soul. Although the experience was hers, personally hers and only hers, it touched me how she micro-scoped the smallest of emotion and analysed it with the help of a book she had recently read. I started to open up myself, being put mentally and emotionally in such receptive position. I let my protective hard shell fall down bit by bit, and then suddenly she stabbed me.

“Close your eyes,” she said, conveying to me a drill from the book that helped to clarify how her mind and heart worked. “Now imagine that you are back to your childhood. Imagine that you are home back then. See your surroundings as they were and relive these memories of yours as vividly as you can.” I did what she said. My mind shifted in time. Our old house. The tiny living room. My favourite sofa in front of the TV. The corridor. The bedrooms. My memories came back to life, one after the other.

“Now try to describe this house, your house from your childhood, and the time you spent in it with a single word. Only one adjective. Don’t think it much. Let your memory leisurely, but honestly, express itself through this word. It does not have to be specifically something bad or good. Just describing how you generally felt in your house as a kid. Now, keep this word in your mind. Repeat it to yourself. Think about it. Brush its letters gently with your eyes. Make a sentence out of it, ‘Home is …’ and put your word. Now take away the word ‘Home’, and substitute it with ‘Love’.”

Instantly, I had a mental snap. I opened my eyes. It cannot be. Following through her instructions I felt so unarmed, so at peace, walking around eye folded just to fall in a deep bottomless emotional pit. “Love is alone”. Love is, simply, alone. My childhood experience at home educated me that love is alone. Suddenly, shifting from “Home is alone” to “Love is alone”, I felt so isolated, so broken, so … alone.

With tears in my eyes, I started coming out of my head and back from my hurtful mental journey. I abruptly wiped away my eyes and casually changed the subject. “Tea?”, I asked and hurried up to the systematic task without even awaiting response. Despite noticing the change in position and being the very good friend she is, she let it pass placidly. We moved on. Calmly on the outside, and raging inside my head.

Later that evening, after she left, I reconciled in my solitude and tried to analyse what happened as logically as possible. “Home is alone”. As weird as this may sound, I have not thought of this statement so negatively. As a kid, I remember home as definitely alone. Not in the bad way though. I was still loved and cherished, but I was mostly alone, or alone with my younger sister whom I was in charge of taking care of. And it was truly fine! I never recall being the least bit sad about it. On the contrary, my both working parents smartly infused into my little mind that “alone” means taking responsibility, means being strong and reliable, means independence. Independent since the age of eight, I have grown up to be OK with being alone, seeing it as an inevitable gateway to maturity.

What struck me that evening was the immense contradiction between two concepts I held true without careful examination of their opposite logic. On one hand, I believed in my independence and individuality, but on the other I only saw love as a process requiring more than just one person. My idea of love was so strict and primitive in nature, that my mind could not comprehend how to place the word “alone” with “love” in the same sentence. It was the apocalypse of my whole fairy tale-ish perception of love. I felt so hurt and betrayed because I instantly thought I would never find love, since it can never be “alone”.

It took me more than just that night to digest and revaluate. The argument kept stewing slowly in my mind, and the emotional intensity I attached to it started to fade. Only then, when I no longer looked at the matter with charged feelings, have I encountered such an empowering truth. If I can already find “love alone”, then certainly I can also learn to find it in all its other different forms. What I was missing was that there is absolutely nothing scary or abnormal if love is alone. Yes, it sounds difficult. Yes, it sounds challenging. But if it is already programmed in me and I am unawarely mastering it, then I already am stronger than I thought I am.

Gradually, it made no sense to be so perturbed about it. I was only on the other side of the road. I knew love alone, before I knew it with someone. The simplicity, yet richness, of this idea was so appealing to me that I kept contemplating on it for a while. People spend tons of their effort, time and energy to reach where I already am. And if it is, as it seems, harder to experience love alone than in company, then I am already over half way through the journey. I smile. A sudden relief fills my heart. I send some love to my friend and go on with my day … alone.