An Altar To Loneliness

Nuestra Señora de Soledad The statue of Our Lady of Solitude, Patroness of Oaxaca

I am sitting in Vices & Versa, the best noisy beer bar in Little Italy, or in Montreal if you ask me. It’s me and several middle-aged men lined up alone at the bar, while all the tables behind us sound like celebrating. My friend just left – all giddy and red faced – his girlfriend’s due date was Saturday. They might have a baby tonight.

The note from my dreams last night reads: “an altar to loneliness” and I don’t remember this dream but I can relate to this feeling. If I’m being honest, I am jealous and angry and totally enamoured with every pregnant person and every expectant partner. I am 37 and not there yet, so maybe it’s too late. If I’m being dramatic then My Womb Is An Altar To Loneliness.

My therapist once asked me if I had an altar. I was startled and delighted, like No! But Yes! Perfect idea. Great work, therapy. She suggested making an area in my home clean and beautiful and full of personal symbols of my own health and Self and triumphs.

I was great at altars when I was a teenager. I had a table covered in candles dripping dramatically in my Mom’s basement, images in heavy metal frames, icons, incense, selected rocks, and an important sculpture of a frog. I liked to lie on the floor near it with the lights turned out listening to Billie Holiday’s Lady in Satin. Because Billie knew everything.

“If I’m going to sing like someone else, then I don’t need to sing at all.” – Billie Holiday

“If I’m going to sing like someone else, then I don’t need to sing at all.” – Billie Holiday

I have gotten good at altars again, following the advice of a thoroughly respectable therapist. There is something to the idea of making spaces in my house that look like the inside of my heart or my unconscious or my hopes. There is something empowering in making up my own symbols: pine trees, rose petals, selected rocks,  a sculpture of an ear, a small wooden doll.

And admittedly, there is something to the idea of an Altar to Loneliness.

An altar puts the loneliness on the outside where I can sit with it, companionably.

I look at it and it looks back into me. Together we make something that wasn’t there before.

I try to write about my dreams every day. It’s a different kind of fertility, and for now it’s enough.

Or at least, it’s what I’m doing.


PS – I didn’t know until now, searching for images that look like my dreams, that this dream echoed a line from a poem I had never read, Sherman Alexie’s The Facebook Sonnet.

Sounds about right though.

Posted in Dreams, Writing by Risa Dickens.