These days, find me staring at the ceiling with one hand over that space between my rib cage and my stomach where all the things we do not own live in secret shame. This space is familiar to me: when you are little, the small lies you tell seem much bigger and scarier and they separate you from your sense of connection and you often find yourself in this space, where you learn (if you’re paying attention) that the problem with lying is that it makes you lonelier, less recognized, less real.

I spent so much time counting and measuring the shape of the carefully crafted, toxic objects in that space when I was younger. The shape of Omitted Information, the shape of Waiting For Them To Find Out, the shape of Try Not To Remember That, the shape of Make Sure Not To Let On, the shape of Regret, the shape of I’m Sorry. These shapes have two faces: the personal and the universal. There are the faces which no one sees but you, and there are the faces which everyone not only sees, but holds.

This familiarity has bred an awareness I have pushed to a recess of my mind, ostensibly for charitable purposes: it is unkind (or at least undesired) to bear witness to someone else’s toxic craft. I would never have guessed the fabric of this country would come to be crafted out of the alienation we make by looking away from the central concerns of our fellow country(wo)men, from the shape of Do Not Acknowledge.

Yet, I should have known that ownership among the disinherited would amount to an act of rebellion, untenable in its direct gaze. At the end of March, I left my old life; I left a man, a job, a coast. Nobody was happy, nobody was honest. I wish I could tell you that I left a place where people could not fathom themselves, let alone begin to know themselves for something built from a moored perspective, that did not float on the back of rhetorical balloons.

I do not claim to have given up the most toxic craft, but the compass points in the right direction, and I am not afraid to look at the compass and see where I am. I wish I could tell you that I did not truck anymore in the lies other people tell themselves. I wish I knew how to stop making this mistake.

Perhaps we need a phrase for this entry in the catalog of alienation: The Galilean loneliness.