Hermit life, an introduction

A reclusive life is not generally a matter of choice. Maybe it is for monks and deep thinkers and social stinkers. But certainly not for you.

Most of your life you had companionship. A mother all through your fatherless teenage years and a first wife you married too young, the inevitable divorce and then a string of young ladies during the ten years between marriages, and finally and marvelously, a second wife, a soulmate you thought of as your only wife and with whom you shared a life for thirty years until she left the planet two years ago for another dimension, or so you imagine when sufficiently stoned.

Drawing by Franz Kafka

Since that day you have lived alone. The first requisite of the hermit life is to have an animal in the house, a pet. You prefer the word companion, generally four-legged, unless your companion is a bird. You’ve always wanted a parrot but couldn’t bear the idea of having a caged creature.

It doesn’t matter what kind of animal. Most people have a dog or a cat, but a white rabbit would be fine, especially if it takes you down the rabbit hole, or even a fish, but again, a creature confined is not for you.

The point is you need another living creature in the house, someone to look after, someone to talk to even though they don’t know what the hell you’re saying, they hear your voice and you hear theirs.

You have a cat, which you got for your wife when she fell ill and was unsteady on her feet and couldn’t handle a dog rushing about. You inherited the cat, a laid-back, entertaining, mystical companion, someone you care about and are a company for, as she is for you.

The days and nights become a timeless dreamlike sequence. You eat and you drink and you watch movies and you smoke and you read and go to bed and get up the next day not knowing why and do it all over again.

That’s the exterior observable life. Inside your head, you’re screaming with loneliness.

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Life in the hermit hovel

You’ve heard of the Hermit Kingdom, land of a dictator, well, I live in the hermit hovel, an old bungalow with a cat and countless mice, who under threat of death by cat, mostly stay in their hermit holes within the hermit hovel.

I am not a dictator, I’m an affable loner, formerly a gregarious husband and man about town. It’s a different story now. Few people, in fact nobody seeks admittance to the hermit hovel, except once in a while the handyman who comes around when something breaks and we have a beer together but most of the time I don’t call him and I try and fix it myself or just deal with it.

In my brief sorties into the outside world, I drive to the liquor store and the convenience store, conveniently avoiding the supermarket, and then I drive back home where I looked after my wife when she fell ill and was at her bedside when she left the planet and went to another— I don’t know where she went, another planet, a kingdom maybe, I don’t know, I kind of doubt she went anywhere, but you never know, even if you think you know.

I live in a limbo of hopeless hope, or perhaps it’s hopeful hopelessness. I didn’t choose to live this way, especially not live my last years this way but that’s the way it went and there’s nothing I can do about it.

After nearly two years of the hermit life I was getting psyched up to go out and seek companionship, not a new lady, just some friends maybe, go back to the bar my wife and I used to go to, it’s only a mile down the road so you can have a few drinks and still drive home safely or walk home if you get plastered.

But covid had a different plan. We’re all in the same boat there so I’m not going to complain about that. I’m not really complaining about anything, except that I’m out of beer and it’s two o’clock in the morning and I’ll have to wait seven hours to go out and get some more.

One of the things I’ve discovered during my hermitage, besides the stark charm of Japanese poetry and the comforting presence of a cat, is that a breakfast of bacon and eggs tastes even better with beer. I’ll just stay here until I’m old and broke.

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