It was just a few minutes after 11 p.m. when I put Lucy’s leash on her and we headed outside for our late-night walk.
Before I even got outside, I heard unexpected noise. It sounded like people laughing. They were loud. I felt annoyed.
When I opened the front door and stepped outside with Lucy, I realized that my young next-door neighbor had a group of people over. I don’t know how many. I saw at least six extra cars.
They were at the back of the house — possibly in the back yard right next to mine — and they were loud enough that I could hear them talking and laughing all the way to the street in front of our houses. I felt mildly angry.
“He shouldn’t be having this kind of loud party this late,” I thought, “especially on a weeknight.”
As I silently walked down the street with Lucy, I kept hearing their laughter. And then it hit me why I felt angry.
They were happy. I’m not. And I felt jealous of them.
It was a shock to realize that I felt that way, but I knew it was true. I didn’t want to be them. I don’t even like parties. The louder and more crowded a party is, the more I want to leave. So I didn’t want to go join them.
I just wanted to be happy. I was jealous that they were happy — experiencing the enjoyment of people they liked and cared about, or whatever made them feel happy — and I wasn’t.
How long has it been? How long has it been since I really felt happy, I mean?
I couldn’t remember at first. Even when I’ve spent time with friends in the last few years, I hadn’t been happy in more than a fleeting way. When I’ve tried to date women in the last few years, I was mostly miserable. Even when I forced one of those relationships to last for about four months — and it seemed longer — I was miserable.
Then I remembered when I had last felt happy. I realized that I could probably put a couple of dates on it.
I was because of a woman. That’s the way it always seems to be for me. When I’m happy, I’m in love. I feel loved, too. I feel as though I have an emotionally secure future.
It’s been almost six years since I felt that way. Not quite. Five and a half years since it ended? I’m not going to quibble over the timing. I went from being on top of the world — happy with love and what I saw as my future — to having it all crash and burn in that short time.
The whole thing took about six months from start to finish. I can pinpoint the night when it died. I could tell you the date if I looked at a calendar, but it was that Friday night in December when my hopes for happiness died.
A month before, everything had seemed perfect. I had felt loved and adored by someone who I loved and adored.
When I put myself back into that frame of mind — from the vantage point of tonight — I’m shocked at what it feels like. It was the happiest I had ever been.
A lot has happened since the late December night. I’ve put on a brave face and acted happy at times. I’ve tried to do things to make myself happy again. I’ve thrown myself into work at times. But all my efforts seemed ridiculous to me tonight.
After I got home, I went out into my darkened back yard. All the lights were on in the house next door. There were still loud voices. The grill on the back porch smelled like something good that had been cooked earlier.
The back door was open to the pleasant summer breeze. The party had been inside and out, it seemed. A happy dog went back and forth between the yard and the people who had moved inside. Everybody was happy. They were content.
I wasn’t angry with them anymore.
I don’t want to be them. I really don’t. Their way of having fun and being happy probably isn’t much like mine.
But I wanted to be with someone else. I wanted to be with someone who loved me. I wanted to be with someone who I loved. I wanted to feel as though I’m home again.
For now, I’m just jealous that someone else is happy. I’m jealous because I don’t know how to make my heart happy again.