"Loneliness is so far out of the conversation that it took me a year to even realize I felt it."
It started much earlier, but I became aware of it on a Thursday. Wednesday I was out of the office; when I got home, there was an email waiting for me from Sara.
Do you want to walk at 12:30 p.m.?
We had started walking for half an hour at lunch, as an office, as part of a fitness challenge (which are always cropping up when you work for the government). Sara and I were the only two who kept it up after the challenge was over. We liked the air, we liked the sun, we liked each other's company.
We hadn't always gotten along. When I started, I made a few too many jokes, and she gave a few too many disapproving looks. Our timing was always just a little bit off. At one point, I resolved to just keep my mouth shut around her.
Fortunately, that didn't last. Vows of silence never really do with me. I talked. She talked. I opened up a little. She thawed out a little. We ended up bonding over photography, of all things. She was taking a class, and even though I'm not a photographer, I knew enough about film to talk about f-stops, depth of field, and composition. (Thank you, expensive, impractical degree.) We became friends. Work friends. Close work friends.