The Opposite of Loneliness
May 29, 2012 8:52 AM   Subscribe

The Opposite of Loneliness Graduating Yale senior Marina Keegan wrote a column for the commencement edition of the paper celebrating "tiny groups that make us feel loved and safe and part of something even on our loneliest nights when we stumble home to our computers — partner-less, tired, awake." She died in a car crash on Saturday. The column she wrote is a poignant eulogy.
posted by fedward (53 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, that is heartbreaking. And I agree with these words because I think apply to all ages and not just the young:

"The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. It’s hilarious."

posted by Kitteh at 9:04 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by Flood at 9:07 AM on May 29, 2012

She described Metafilter.
posted by stormpooper at 9:08 AM on May 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

posted by mosk at 9:09 AM on May 29, 2012

I just completed a six-hour online defensive driving course to get an insurance discount. The course was a pain. It told me all about not driving at a "high rate of speed," all about how the "centripetal force" is pulling me to the outside of a curve, and how to announce my approach to bicyclists by honking the horn at them. It was a painful, tedious formality that included a video in the style of "60 Minutes"… you've seen the kind: a respectable-looking, business-suited, well-spoken father who goes on speaking engagements to talk about the premature death of his promising, "good kid" son in a drunk driving accident, then switch to the incarcerated driver, who is shabby, and weedy, and has shifty eyes and a hick accent, and he grovels for forgiveness, and then the interviewer shakes his hand and leaves him to serve his 17 to life for murder.

And then you get sickened by the video, and the smarmy text, and the idiotic animation, and the six hours you're spending in front of the screen, occasionally phoning in to the "voice authentication hotline" to keep verifying that you are indeed yourself.

Drive safely, people. Try to be safe.
posted by Nomyte at 9:11 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I keep trying to add a personal note but get stuck writing it. I didn't know her and saw the link on Stellar. It was especially moving to me because my brother was killed in a car accident along with his best friend. He was 19. I was three weeks shy of eleven.

My heart goes out to her family and friends. She was clearly a person who loved, was loved in return, and will be missed.

posted by fedward at 9:13 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

She was so young.
posted by caryatid at 9:16 AM on May 29, 2012

An awful thing.

posted by oneironaut at 9:19 AM on May 29, 2012

One of my friends is Marina's uncle. Needless to say, the family is shattered. She had such a promising future ahead.
posted by ericb at 9:20 AM on May 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

A short notice from The Paris Review, where she had interned.
posted by briank at 9:20 AM on May 29, 2012

posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:27 AM on May 29, 2012

We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:27 AM on May 29, 2012 [3 favorites]

Awful . . . I returned from the Cape this morning. Route 6 can be especially dangerous; lots of distracted drivers, some of whom are presumably excited in anticipation of their long weekend/vacation. The majority of accidents occur on the 2-lane portion of the road on the outer Cape.
posted by eggman at 9:33 AM on May 29, 2012


Obviously the specifics of her situation were different than mine, but she summed up perfectly the main reason I was so stressed out and unhappy towards the end of my last year of university;

"More than finding the right job or city or spouse – I’m scared of losing this web we’re in."

Because I feared - and I was right - that my seemingly inseparable group of friends would drift apart, remarkably quickly in some cases, as people moved apart, landed jobs, got married, had children and forged new lives. This is, of course, as it should be, and over the years I made new friends, got married and forged a new life of my own. But it's still sad when I look at photos from my school days and realize how few of those people are still close friends of mine. Facebook (or Twitter, or whatever) might help paper over those holes in your life, but it's never going to fill them. That's work you have to do for yourself.

I have an occasional recurring dream where I'm in the city where I went to university for one last night before I leave forever. I go from house to house, asking my friends if they want to go out for one last night on the town, but everyone's either too busy or not interested. I have begun to suspect it's about fear of dying alone. So I do my best to follow this advice:

"Understand that friends come and go, but for the precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle because the older you get, the more you need the people you knew when you were young."

QFT. Life is short. Friends are important.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:34 AM on May 29, 2012 [36 favorites] to announce my approach to bicyclists by honking the horn at them...

I know this is a derail, but please don't ever, ever, ever do that.
posted by Stagger Lee at 9:39 AM on May 29, 2012 [26 favorites]

To be sure, the website also told me that bicyclists are a hazard because they travel at "excessive speeds" on roadways. I'll be sure to take all of their safe driving advice to heart.

Of course, there are things we wished we did: our readings, that boy across the hall.

You and me both, Marina, you and me both.
posted by Nomyte at 9:49 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

The majority of accidents occur on the 2-lane portion of the road on the outer Cape.

That particular stretch from Dennis to the Orleans rotary is nicknamed "suicide alley."
posted by ericb at 9:55 AM on May 29, 2012

posted by dlugoczaj at 10:15 AM on May 29, 2012

I didn't want to cry about life today.
posted by Xurando at 10:25 AM on May 29, 2012

The Card Cheat: "Because I feared - and I was right - that my seemingly inseparable group of friends would drift apart, remarkably quickly in some cases, as people moved apart, landed jobs, got married, had children and forged new lives. "

I think the point is, be glad you got to have that group and those experiences.
posted by notsnot at 10:33 AM on May 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by shakespeherian at 10:37 AM on May 29, 2012

I graduated from college in 1979, and a mysterious illness was beginning to sicken people, many of them gay... ten years later, far too many of my college friends--people I'd figured on laughing the years away with--were already gone. Now, very few of my school friends remain and even fewer are within driving distance.

The feeling Keegan described so vividly--I remember it well, especially on the night before graduation when I took a last walk through campus, so trustingly open so that I could stare at priceless porcelains at 3am. I remember understanding that never again in my life would I be surrounded by so many peers and so many opportunities. I was miserable during commencement and wept as I loaded my car and drove away forever.

I've had fun since then, yes. But it's not the same. You really are only young once.
posted by kinnakeet at 10:39 AM on May 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

That is so sad...and really makes you think. She accomplished so much in such a short time.

I still can't really tell what happened- the car just drifted into the guardrail and flipped?

Life is so very short and this story is so very sad. I am so sorry for her family and friends and everyone who knew her. Very sad.
posted by bquarters at 10:58 AM on May 29, 2012

Heartbreaking. I'm making the trip out to NYC next month to see old schoolmates, some of whom I've been friends with since 3rd grade. So glad I'm making that trip.

posted by nubianinthedesert at 11:04 AM on May 29, 2012

BTW -- it's stunning to see the impact Marina had on people. Her story is being told through all sorts of media outlets and across the Web.
posted by ericb at 11:07 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by kylej at 11:08 AM on May 29, 2012

That is terribly sad. And Marina's boyfriend, who was driving, will have to live with survivor's guilt (even though it doesn't seem the crash was his fault - no speeding, just a horrible twist of fate). My thoughts go to their families.
posted by Rosie M. Banks at 11:19 AM on May 29, 2012

oh man, oh man -- I met marina on chat roulette in the winter of 2009, back when decent people were using it... and now I'm reading her obit via this site. Tragic and strange.
posted by serif at 11:20 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Very sad, and by default her boyfriend's life has just been made more difficult, longer. Time doesn't always fly.
posted by de at 11:23 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's so strange isn't it -- how an entire life's narrative can change so quickly. This probably sounds terribly selfish, but this article that Marina wrote is something I needed to read today. I'm at the tail end of a PhD program, finding it difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Today I spent my lunch break sobbing on my boyfriend's shoulder about how I just couldn't do this any more and catastrophizing about the turn my life has taken. Reading this reminded me of the day a few months ago when I lost control of my boyfriend's car, driving him and me straight into the steps of a strip mall at full speed. We escaped with a badly damaged car and bruised knees. I can think of a hundred different ways that could have ended up being worse. How quickly our lives could have changed irretrievably. Yet, here I am today, obsessing over a line in my advisor's email to me. We've only got this one life, only one chance to shape our narrative the way we want it. And in the end, we're still dust -- how truly pointless to be envious.
posted by peacheater at 11:48 AM on May 29, 2012 [8 favorites]

Jesus Christ.

posted by en forme de poire at 11:51 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I enjoyed reading her writing. I feel terrible for her parents. Before I was a mom, my own death was the one thing I didn't want to think about; now, the thought of my daughter Carina dying before me is that one thing.

I graduated from Yale about 20 years ago and I remember that feeling that she wrote about of safety and collegiality like it was yesterday. There you are, in a warm bubble of intellect and creativity, surrounded by beautiful buildings and artwork and teachers who want you to grow, grow, grow, and even with all that the most important thing at the time seems like the friendships and connectedness. I've lost touch with most, but two of my dorm roomates are still two of my best friends, and I even have weekly playdates with one of them as our toddler daughters are the same age. We've been best friends for more than half my life now. Thank you for that, Yale. I wish Marina hadn't been cut off in her prime; I think she would have enjoyed and embraced adulthood with the same open-heartedness and thoughtfulness that was evident from her college writing. I think she would have kept a bit of that connectedness and some of those friendships.

God I loved my time at Yale, but I think Marina used it better, learned more, and accomplished more than I did with it, even though I've had two decades more than her to work with. I hope her parents, and any parents who lose a child, really, can recover.
posted by onlyconnect at 11:57 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Also, from the Jezebel article: Last Saturday, after her boyfriend lost control of his car and slammed them both into a guardrail. (He survived.)

I guess I can't be surprised at the way this was phrased - it is Jezebel, after all - but unless we know that the boyfriend was at fault I think this is kind of terrible. Presumably the boyfriend is grieving also, and unless it turns out he was drunk or impaired, this seems like a gratuitous twist of the knife.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:30 PM on May 29, 2012 [5 favorites]

I guess I can't be surprised at the way this was phrased - it is Jezebel, after all

They said he survived, not "he survived (but we wish he didn't)."
posted by benbenson at 12:36 PM on May 29, 2012

Benbenson, it's more that they said he "slammed them both into a guardrail" (compare, e.g., here, where they say that the vehicle hit the guardrail.) It's subtle, but because usually journalists phrase the details of an accident more neutrally -- for example, "the Camaro spun out of control" or "the truck crossed the divider" -- the deviation stood out to me. Perhaps it's not what they meant to do.
posted by en forme de poire at 12:54 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Just one thing - sorry - but please DON'T honk the horn at cyclists. Just pass us when it's safe to do so.

RIP Young writer.
posted by Mister_A at 12:57 PM on May 29, 2012

(And speaking of Jezebel, the comments section there makes me really thankful for Metafilter.)

BTW, acidic, that column was really great, particularly the end:
I read somewhere that radio waves just keep traveling outwards, flying into the universe with eternal vibrations. Sometime before I die I think I’ll find a microphone and climb to the top of a radio tower. I’ll take a deep breath and close my eyes because it will start to rain right when I reach the top. Hello, I’ll say to outer space, this is my card.
. ) ) )
posted by en forme de poire at 1:03 PM on May 29, 2012 [4 favorites]

I've seen such a bright light blown out so young once before, seven years ago. I'm still not over it: I'd push a button to kill 1000 random people to bring either girl back (I know it's wrong, but I'd do it). RIP.
posted by whatgorilla at 1:16 PM on May 29, 2012

Holy cats, Route 6. The area they're talking about isn't quite the undivided area after Dennis (there is a news report video that shows that the accident occurred in the area that was still divided), but the whole of Route 6 can be a tedious, terrifying place to drive. I've driven onto the Cape many times at the conclusion of a marathon five or six hour trek and I always feel white knuckled terror the whole length of that road.

Its not that its so bad in and of itself (when I was living there, it was no better or worse than any other road), but as the conclusion to a long drive, its murder. Dark. Minimal rest areas. People driving 10 miles below and 20 miles above the speed limit. Lots of people drifting into the other lanes. Tourists generally unfamiliar with the area trying to figure out which off ramp they need to take and making some pretty aggressive driving moves.

I really feel for everyone involved here. One bad driving night and I could very easily have been in the same situation as her boyfriend.

She was a remarkable young woman. I hope that her plays continue to be produced and her writing continues to be read.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:26 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is so lovely, and so, so sad.

posted by clavier at 1:34 PM on May 29, 2012


The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.

To-day, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.

Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose . . .

So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.

And round that early-laurelled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's.

She should have lived much longer, but I think her time was not wasted.
posted by Countess Elena at 2:01 PM on May 29, 2012

posted by Karmeliet at 2:23 PM on May 29, 2012

>unless we know that the boyfriend was at fault I think this is kind of terrible.

According to Marina Keegan's father, her boyfriend had fallen asleep at the wheel. Just adding this info because I think it clarifies the diction in the Jezebel article, not because this makes him "at fault," per se, or because it should be taken as carte blanche by random internet editorialists to direct blame or criticism at him. I cannot imagine how terrible he feels. My heart goes out to him and her family, and, at the risk of sounding perverse, I'm so grateful to have discovered her writing. That essay she wrote on "the opposite of loneliness" was absolutely beautiful.
posted by artemisia at 2:50 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'm skeptical. Transposing a statement like "I don't know what happened, maybe he fell asleep" to "Gocksch fell asleep at the wheel, according to Kevin Keegan on Monday" is EXACTLY the kind of thing that newspaper reporters do all the time, as anyone who has been interviewed and seen the results in print knows.
posted by thelonius at 6:16 PM on May 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Actually, the word for it is relatedness. Researchers have proposed that it is a fundamental, psychological need, as part of a whole theory about human motivation.
posted by polymodus at 6:46 PM on May 29, 2012

Well, she accomplished more in her short lifetime than most will accomplish in theirs. I don't know if that makes this more, or less, tragic.

posted by désoeuvrée at 6:26 AM on May 30, 2012

posted by halseyaa at 11:15 AM on May 30, 2012

We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time.

That's the message here. Your life may end today. Be prepared.

How to Feel When an Impossibly Promising 22-Year-Old Passes Away.

Well that was a terribly misleading headline. That article told me nothing of the sort.

So terribly sad. Fuck cars.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:26 PM on May 30, 2012

Truly inspiring. I felt the same way graduating from my alma mater in 2011, and viewed my insanely accomplished peers the same way as Marina did, having switched majors a few times trying to find my calling. She captured the essence of the college experience and more incredibly, the feelings, in her poignant essay. The opposite of loneliness. What a remarkable, talented, beautiful soul. She's writing poetry for angels now.
posted by sunnychef88 at 3:02 PM on May 30, 2012

They had transcended the horrible circumstances of their daughter's death to forgive and console Gocksch, who was driving the car.

"She was very in love," said Tracy Keegan, 54. "She loved the Cape and the water and wanted to share her favorite place. I had never seen her so happy. She so loved and admired him."

I hope Jezebel can learn to be fair. Accidents happen.

posted by discopolo at 9:00 PM on June 1, 2012

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