It’s 2 a.m. again,1 and I am consumed by all my problems and imperfections,2 by the “what-ifs.”3 

What if we don’t talk anymore4 when we’re miles apart?5

What if you let me go?6 

I know what you’re thinking7—“Maybe I’m too emotional.”

Or maybe you never cared at all!8 I’m sorry;9 that was an overreaction.10 When I first looked at you, “home” was the only word I could think of,11 and my soul and heart is still invested in this.12

For what is love, if not wanting to be seen?13 To find our found family?14 To dance in the kitchen with you?15

Besides, wearing my heart on my sleeve16 has taught me the life lessons I needed:17

that there are many ways to say I love you,18
and that love doesn’t have to be romantic,19
and we’re going to heal.20

I want to believe21 in our story so far,22 that even if it needs work, the bones are good.23 But every now and then (like when I see how all happy families are alike24), it hits me.25

And I am overcome with an unbelievable sense of loneliness and sadness.26 In those moments,27 I am terrified of what I can’t control,28 of not belonging anywhere,29 of being left behind,30 like the sidekick that should’ve been the main character, if we’re being honest.31

And so I cry sometimes when I’m lying in bed.32 Who is cutting onions?33

Maybe I need one of those “fragile contents” stickers you get when you buy plates online.34 Well that’s not true.35 I’ve survived the fall36 before.  And I’m brave37 to not give up on love.38 

As you can tell,39 my mind is like40 a merry-go-round, but it never stops.41 I need to work on myself42 before I turn fifty-one43 and I’m thinking, “what if44 the kids don’t want to come home?”45

In the meanwhile,46 I’ll try to comfort myself47 by escaping to other worlds:48

Where I am with old money, living in the French countryside.49
where oxtail dinner (extra gravy on the rice)50 is on the menu.51
where I explore the woods while it rains,52 with leaves: falling, tea: brewing, candles, burning.53
Where I feel like everything’s in slow motion54and precious.55
Impossible worlds,56 according to others.57

These dreams58 will feed my soul59 until tomorrow,60 when with arms outstretched,61 I’ll try again.62

Because years ago, in a fit of indignant rage, I demanded of God, “Please don’t ever let me not care,” and God listened all too well.


Author’s Note

I’ve long loved exploring Spotify like a sonic scrapbook and have hundreds of playlists saved on my account to prove it. Recently I was struck by the playfulness and vulnerabilitiesreally the stories being told in users’ playlist titles. From bizarrely specific experiences to cliché sentiments, their private feelings are catalogued publicly. I started saving titles that stood out to memostly those that attempted to define fear, grief, and longing.  

With the exception of the last sentence, this essay is composed entirely of those Spotify playlist titles. I only added articles, conjunctions, and other grammatical necessities, and excluded common words like “song” and “playlist”. Dramatic, angsty, self-soothingthese sixty-two playlists present a collective grappling with the sound of loneliness—a sound we are prone to think, only we can hear. 

Playlists used:





  1. Phil Rienstra

    What an awesome idea! I love it.

  2. Naomi

    This is spectacular. I’m in awe of the artistry it took to string all these titles together. Also the artistry of playlist titles.

  3. Juliana Knot

    This is like a written quilt. How beautiful!


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