Kenneth, born and raised in the South, resides in Hamilton, Alabama. He enjoys sharing his unique perspectives on life through his writing.
The worst time, the most depressing moments a kid of eight can face (much less bear) is that solitary, faceless figure of being alone who stalked me at various times when I was basically all to myself out in our yard when my mom was absorbed in housework and dad was deep into his share-cropping. With my lone sister married and living away from us, where did that leave me? Alone. All alone although I interacted with my parents at different times of the day, but still, I was alone. I knew it. Thing is, I never offered to fight it.
Like a slithering, filthy entity that vermin cannot stand, he stalked me. In darkness, light, happy mountain tops and in valleys deep . . .he stalked me. Silently, almost invisible, he stayed on my trail and never swayed. I wondered, maybe my birth was a mistake. Does anyone at any age get stalked, set-up for agony wide and all without giving me one word of explanation. Still, he stalked me. Through brief happy moments, in trying sadness in sweaty nights. He stalked and tracked me with the cunning of a master assassin.
At various moments in my life, the younger days were where loneliness appeared one day looking much like an elderly, stately grandfatherly type of man with a white suit, shoes and carrying a cedar cane. His smile was instantly abbreviated. I was scared out of my shoes. I was seven at the time. I had been playing in our spacious yard that went with our rented house where my family and I lived while my dad was at his peak of the share cropping time of our country. Dad, I have always wondered, if he knew the full affects of him not being able to share crop like he loved to do. The Federal Government and the Dept. of Agriculture did what they set out to do: make the small farmer cease from growing crops and selling them at market for their living. This was about dad. My "friend," loneliness was about me and the first time I met him.
Loneliness slowly stuck out his head from behind a huge walnut tree that stood beside an old wooden chicken house that renters before had converted it into a wood shed--a dry place for renters to keep their fireplace and kitchen wood dry. A nice idea. And I played in that old structure a lot of my outside time. I had no one to talk to. No one to play with, so really, I had no choice. But the Thursday day I met Loneliness, something inside of me changed me. I started having feelings about things that I had never thought about.
In years to come, I would look back on these young years and try to grasp a lasting definition of what Loneliness meant to me. I came to the realization that most people who have plenty to do--work, hobbies, and activities, are seldom lonely. But in my case, even with the things to play with and books to read, I was lonely and the loneliness surfaced inside when Loneliness looked at me and smiled just like any storefront mannequin. It was the realization of me being invaded with loneliness that brought my emotions to a halt--and depression started picking at me. It was a never-ending game that Loneliness and Depression would play with me in my waking hours.
Until that Thursday morning prior to me and Loneliness meeting, I was mostly care-free and maybe a little scared too about going to first grade which did cheat me in some ways because the in the laws governing the Marion County (Alabama) School Board, my birthday rolled around too early for me to start at age six, so when my seventh birthday came up, I had to start my schooling years. I was excited and ready for some adventure. Here is the bottom line: when you are seven in 1960, living with your folks in rural northwest Alabama and you see poverty in every bend of the country roads, you learn to look for things to make life worthwhile.
But at meal time when my mom and dad would eat their supper, they only discussed adult things about farming prices, fertilizer, and how the two of them might save some money if the crops dad had planted prospered in the fall. Me? I just sat and eat. Oh, sometimes I would say something maybe thought as sensible, but like I said, a seven-year-old in these adverse conditions cannot have anything that interesting on his or her mind to discuss--so you spend your time with your siblings if you have any. And in my case, my older sister had married and moved away into their new Jim Walter home, so I can account for my loneliness popping up when meal time only meant me, dad and mom sitting down at the kitchen table to share a meal.
I did miss my sister, but not to a point that I felt like taking my life. Nothing scary like that. I missed her in a sibling type of missing. When she and her husband would come for a visit, they would maybe eat meal with us and then go home. This had developed into a pattern for a few months and when their first child was born, they seldom visited. My dad just saw each day as a work day to farm and my mom to take care of our home and me, well, I had to fill my pre-school years into trying to come up with some thing or some way to combat the low feelings that I was always having.
I tried reading my comic books. Listening to the radio and taking a No. 2 lead pencil and drawing on some of my school paper that my mom had bought me so I would be equipped to head to school in the fall. I would have to say and in a therapeutical way, drawing did take the edge off of me being lonely and depressed--but on the inside, there was that far-away thoughts of tomorrow. What about next week, next year? Where will I be then? These questions were never answered.
I will not go into every detail of my young life when the Loneliness started, for it would take away too much of your time. I had just rather give you this honest narrative of how it feels to have Loneliness haunt and stalk you almost every day and how sad I felt when this "beast" was attacking me with such silent fangs that I knew were stuck inside of my insides, but could not wrest them away.
Even when I first darkened the front door to the New Home School, highway 41 west, off highway 29, out of Hamilton, Ala., I felt Loneliness touch my shoulder--even with a classroom almost full of children with backgrounds similar to mine. We were from poor, farming families, but we were not apologizing. We were proud to be a part of the farming sector in the southeastern section of the United States. Even in the years to come when I grew older, seemingly the Loneliness grew stronger. Even with a group of good friends--laughing, talking, and just being regular teens, Loneliness made me feel like an outcast. Not jealous of any of my friends. I was happy to see them succeed. No, I was feeling self-pity for I wasn't sorry for who I was, where I lived or the clothes I wore. Society does have a silent means to divide the closest of friends.
When I graduated high school, Loneliness graduated with me. In my first jobs, he was there rubbing his chin looking very devious at how he, Loneliness, could make me feel worse. And for what reason? I cannot tell you. But how I felt was that through the Loneliness, I was aware that I had missed something or was missing someone--if you can relate to my logic.
Loneliness and I have stayed together (on and off) for now going on 64 years. Funny about Loneliness. He never ages, weakens, or has ever threatened me in any way. Just his cold presence is enough to make someone feel death-like and listless even when you have had a blessed day. I have prayed that I would discover some way to take the mask off of Loneliness and exhibit him for the public to see, know, and hopefully beware of him. I am serious.
Those plans, like many of my dreams from plans in my early childhood have long since turned from hope into ashes. Just their memories remain.
© 2017 Kenneth Avery