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Population: 1

Inspired by: The Lonely City by Olivia Laing

There is something about solitude that makes me fond of them, like a familiar scent that reminds me of home. In its stillness and coldness, there is something independent that draws you in, giving you a taste of freedom like nothing else could, a tenderness that holds you tight as no one else would. You learn to greet them like you would to a neighbor, before you embrace them like an old friend; you learn to endure the empty space as you take pleasure in being alone. But solitude is, still, a sister to loneliness, and it is nothing but a double-edged knife that stabs you most violently as you stare out the window in the darkness of 4 a.m. and it hits you: you’re just another citizen, living inside a cubicle in a giant set of prison cells of white, golden, and neon lights.

It is a strange place that we live in. What is it about the city that makes it feel so alienating? How can a place, where millions of people live side by side, be so lifeless? The glass walls trapping me inside have blurred the borderline between freedom and loneliness, the machinery that keeps the lights on driving us away from each other and the world. We wake up and jostle our way through the crowd where everyone is yearning for a connection that apparently didn’t exist in close physical proximity. 

It’s the hush of early morning darkness that whispers to you the uncomfortable truth: that you live in an empty place. It doesn’t matter how dense the skyscrapers and traffics make you feel, how cramped the queue to the subway is–no matter how wide you open the window to hear sounds of the people, it could never fill in the silence that creeps inside of you. Like a ghost city, one that feeds and nourishes off this particular urban loneliness.

As you reach out for anything or anyone that could fill in the void, you realize it’s just like a blind person reaching out for smoke. Indeed, it gets painful, and maybe it already is, but at least, at the very least, it is still a company–a special one in a special place.

3 thoughts on “Population: 1

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