And it was on one of these evenings, when I had cooked and prepared supper, uniforms were laid out ready for the next day, when suddenly the house parents disappeared upstairs with their kids to their own private room for awhile and the girls ran off to their bedrooms to plan acts for the evening’s talent show.
Suddenly, I found myself standing alone in a pitch dark dining room.
I made my way outside and settled down on the top step outside my bedroom door. The metal door was cool upon my back, the breeze fresh on my face. Concrete wall to my left, barbed wire to my right; stars above, palm trees standing dark upon the horizon.
The universe spread out before me, tiny me, fenced in with barbed wire.
While embracing the chance to stop and catch a breath and ponder, as my hectic world suddenly ground to a halt I found myself alone.
Solitude, and, isolation. Intense isolation. There were no tears. Just an intense realisation of the sensation of feeling entirely isolated. A sense of almost being trapped in a world completely by myself, disconnected from everyone.
I was alone. I needed to talk to someone. Laugh with them. Tell them what I feeling. Hug someone. Connect. It was so deep; the intensity shocked me.
Blame the long working hours, the fact that I was living at work, the weariness, the newness of my friendships, my poor spanish, the cultural differences and my lack of internet access or any sort of connection with the world outside of Chimaltenango; it certainly wasn’t that I didn’t like the work I was doing or that those I worked with weren’t amazingly welcoming and accepting.
It was just that circumstances had conspired against me to place me temporarily in a place of solitude.
In that moment, I realised…relationships – all types – really are the most important thing in life.
And yet also in that moment, I realised that on another level, each of us, to a certain degree, has to walk our paths through life alone.
And I also found that in the pain and intensity and emptiness of that moment, I was still so aware of the presence of something so much bigger than myself.
So I got up, tucked my iPod away, told myself it wouldn’t be like this forever, and went down to watch the talent show.