Gertrude Stein

Gertrude Stein
Woman with a brilliant mind

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Solo, Solitary, Alone, Lonely, Life!

Gertrude seems to be the epitome of someone whose life is all behind her now. I get so full of pity for her! She's got old pictures fading on her parlor wall; fading pictures on top of fading wallpaper. Her velvet sofa needs vacuuming. I did it once but it was a hopeless gesture. And whenever I come to her house, she has no music or TV going. She's just listening to her Thomas clock ticking.

I cleaned her bathroom for her, and it really improved things even though her enamel is stained and those black and white tiles are cracked. The fixtures in there are antique, but not nice. The copper pipes have verdigris but not the pretty kind. But I like it in there and often when I use her bathroom I spend more time than necessary, enjoying the heat of the radiator and the way it warms up the back edge of the tub and the toilet seat. I make soap and I brought her some, but somehow the pink bars she usually gets seem right somehow. And the bright green Prell shampoo. Her towels are raggedy but when I brought her new ones she gave them to a needy neighbor with young children, saying that her towels still did the job.

Her house is quiet except for the clocks, the pipes in the radiator, the old fridge motor that turns on and off, and the birds in the trees, the passing traffic, and the sounds of people walking by.

When I look at it that way it seems like she doesn't need a radio.

But I wonder if she isn't terribly lonely sometimes. I drank some of her blackberry tea and talked with her about it.

She said,

"I do get a lonesome feeling sometimes. I suffer from it and I feel that if I only had people around, I'd be happy. But then, it's strange how, other times the situation is exactly the same but I don't feel loneliness. I feel solitude and peace. Especially when I let the presence of greatness dwell in my heart."

"I get lonely," I said. "I feel very sorry for you being here and lonely. That's why I came here today."

"Oh! Well, you shouldn't let it stop you from doing what you know you should do, even when you don't feel completely at ease, joyful, or whatever. There's a different kind of happiness in suffering. It's good because you know for sure you've earned it well."

I sat there and suffered and felt love and felt that kind of happiness that is really a few millimeters from where we are right now.

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