For the first time in my life, I am the eye of the storm. Every romance or relationship or partnership or arrangement between two people that is happening in close proximity to me has a wrench thrown in the gears; I am watching these massive, reliable machines grind to halt and shudder at each other for lack of any better form of understanding. We all stay up late into the night discussing emotional politics. We follow each other from one room of the house to another, from bar to bar to bar, from Northampton to Boston and back trying to properly articulate what it is that's broken. And I keep saying we, as if I am involved in any of this. I am background noise today. My problems are small and self-contained: I own too many shoes, I don't know whether or not I will be moving in the next few months, there is never enough money to make me feel successful. Everyone else is questioning the nature of their commitments. I am happy to just be left alone. I have never been consistently single for this long a period of time, and I'm beginning to accept that it's my natural state. I am more than okay with this. Not only is it easier to be background noise in the dramatic lives of others, it is more acceptable to me to be a sounding board for all of the relationship insanity that my friends are going through. I told one of them last night that I hate the existence of empathy; I truly ache for any friend I have who is hurting, to the point that it affects my quality of life. I get physically ill in a room full of people who do not know what to do with themselves. But this is different--machines breaking down seems not only inevitable, but necessary for moving forward. In a lot of ways, I feel very zen about all of the destruction and turmoil. I think that I might be mentally well=prepared for any sort of apocalypse. I'm pretty positive that the only person I would ultimately concern myself with is me, and that's something I've never been able to say with confidence.