When I was a freshman at UCLA, I was in a play called “Automatic Cocktail”, an original one-act about the Surrealist movement. The play itself was surreal; choppy, non-linear, lots of bowler hats. Right up to the final dress rehearsal, I had no idea what an audience would make of it. I had no idea what I made of it.
Here’s what I remember. Recreating a painting (Magritte? Picasso?), my friend Maury’s arms around me, dipping me, his mouth at my neck. Later, another back bend, hands wrapped in lengths of white fabric, two men holding the ends while I arched backwards slowly, rhythmically to Philip Glass, copious amounts of long hair swinging (this was 1988, after all). All of us, onstage at once, saying in different languages “I am so lonely and alone”.
My translation (procured from my Italian professor) was “Io sono sola y mi senta sola”. This phrase, more than anything, has stuck with me.
The play, when it did get in front of an audience, was a huge hit (for a one-act…in college). I wasn’t sure what we were all responding to but there was something in these disjointed images, these whiffs of sex and sadness that were unbearably true.
I climbed Mt. Baldy this afternoon, the highest point near me (where, ironically, I often visit at my lowest points). I walk for thirty minutes uphill. At the top I’m rewarded with the entire Bay Area laid out before me; Mt. Tam, Mt. Diablo, the city shimmering in the distance. Today I stretched my arms wide as the cold air swirled around me.
“Unsure”, I said, my voice snatched by the wind. Big breath. “Unsure.”
As I turned my back on the view to head down the hill home, I thought “Io sono sola y mi senta sola.” Big breath. I am so lonely and alone.
I walked down the path, skirting the mud, one sneakered foot in front of the other. We are all so lonely and alone. That was the whole point in that funny little play. Many voices, many languages, all speaking isolation but indeed creating a chorus: We are so lonely and alone. That’s the beauty, that’s the poetry, that’s the heartbreak.