Twilight with the Muses: Considering Rosario Juanita Castellanos “Appeal to the Lonely One”

Crystal Hurd, Andrew Lazo, and Becka Choat at Camp Allen, TX
Crystal Hurd, Andrew Lazo, and Becka Choat

Twilight with the Muses: Considering Rosario Juanita Castellanos “Appeal to the Lonely One”

by Crystal Hurd

At times it suits us to find friendship. 

Friend, it is not possible to be born, 
or die, without the other. It is well
that friendship removes from work
that feel of punishment, and from joy
the illicit airs of thievery.

How can you be alone at the total hour,
in which the things and you talk
and talk, till dawn?

I am an only child.  This may conjure up various myths about greediness or a lack of cooperation for some. It is true that I enjoyed getting ALL the toys when I was younger, but I also had no one to blame when my childhood curiosity resulted in a broken appliance or wounded furniture.  Many times, I attempted to indict my imaginary friend, a boisterous, clumsy alter ego named Cribby (yes, I know it’s very strange!).  However, my parents are perceptive people and figured out right away that the true culprit was their boisterous, clumsy daughter Crystal.

But one defining characteristic for me was an unceasing loneliness.  My parents are very loving and involved; in fact, my childhood was as whimsical as one could fathom.  Things were just fine until nighttime. I had friends and school and piano lessons and baseball practice.  During the day, I was surrounded by a myriad of distractions. But then, evening would arrive.  My mother or father read me a bedtime story, tucked me into my beautiful canopied bed, extinguished the light, and then I was alone.

In the silence that followed, I was reminded of my loneliness.  The darkness seemed to rush in.  The clock which ticked harmlessly during the day was transformed into a blaring, tyrannous staccato. My audience of stuff toys looked on as I began to tremble beneath the sheets. It is important to insert here that, as a child, I lived across the street from a cemetery which ignited all kinds of spooks and suspicions in my young imagination. I would pull the cover over my head and pray for the feeling of isolation to pass. I always felt that, if I were not alone, I would have the strength to overcome that fear, that the presence of others would either pacify my fears or eliminate them altogether.   

Years later, I boarded a plane by myself headed to Houston, Texas for a Writer’s Retreat.  This was the first time I was flying alone, but I knew that friends old and new awaited me there (Muses Becka and Andrew were in attendance).  When I arrived, I had this bizarre yet wonderful sensation of instant comfort.  No fear or anxiety.  United by a love of words, strangers never remained so.  As our first evening set in, I ate dinner, attended a meeting, and emerged from the classroom to meet Andrew in the hallway.  “Would you like to join us?” he inquired, wearing a warm and inviting smile.

How could I resist?  As I entered the room, Becka wore a similar smile.  A meeting of the Muses at last!  I grabbed a seat next to her as Andrew grabbed the seat next to me.  And we didn’t move for four hours – four hours that seemed to evaporate quickly, for we were all lost in mutual joy.

We chatted, we laughed, we discussed great authors and good books, we bonded.  I cannot articulate how wonderful it was to be engrossed in the “total hour”.  That evening will be a moment I eternally cherish. When we finally decided to adjourn, we continued to talk as we neared our dorms in the balmy evening. We embraced each other, and then Andrew said something that arrested me.  He softly stated, “Welcome home”.  It was a thrilling and glorious night (and only the first with a weekend full of wonderful people).  I returned to my empty room, cloaked in darkness. It was only in pure exhaustion that I slept that night, for my excitement did not diminish.  Even in that late hour in an unfamiliar place, there was no loneliness present, only the enduring love of friends.

Months later, I would return to Houston to present at a conference and meet Holly, another Muse.  She and I shared wonderful conversations during the evenings, as her kitchen light illuminated her apartment. She imparted wisdom and shared stories from her life.  I experienced the same joy that I did during my first evening with Becka and Andrew.  In fact, all four of us were together during that trip. It was truly marvelous. As I retreated to bed, I whispered a prayer of thanks for the wonderful love of friends such as Holly and Andrew and Becka and Kelly.  Their friendship is invaluable to me.

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