By: Michelle Yeung
"We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life.”
The Opposite of Loneliness is a posthumous collection of stories and essays written by the late Yale University graduate Marina Keegan. Through her work, Keegan showed that there are few things in life more incredible than being young and hopeful and endlessly frustrated.
“We’re so young. We’re so young. We’re twenty-two years old. We have so much time,” she said. Perhaps that’s why her words resonate with me so deeply – like her, the possibility of youth baffles me.
These are stories about falling in love and falling out of love, late-night drinking and early morning hangovers. They are stories about balancing the recklessness of youth with the responsibilities of adulthood, about the moments we realize the mortality of our parents, about the late nights spent wondering whether we love what we do enough to be poor. She perfectly captures what it’s like to be at the cusp of adulthood. This is what makes her work so powerful – it’s incredibly relatable.
But her collection of stories do not stay in the confines of university; it spans the world, from a submarine stuck undersea to a military base in Baghdad to her 1990 Toyota Camry in her driveway back home. In Against the Grain, she discusses living with celiac disease. In Reading Aloud, she dives into the relationship between a blind man and a naked woman. In Why We Care About Whales, she wonders why people are so strange about animals, especially large ones. Each story is about something entirely different, but all are entertaining as they are thought-provoking. It isn’t Keegan’s death that captivates people – it is her charm and raw, indisputable talent. She is young, but not naive. She is ingenious. She is a wordsmith. She can craft a beautiful, poetic sentence just to hit you in the face with a blunt and evocative statement.
The Opposite of Loneliness is an ode to youthful exuberance, a symphony for those who are equal parts fearless and afraid. It is a collection of ballads and rap remixes and alternative rock medleys; there’s something for everyone. Pick it up when you’re feeling a little lonely and you’ll know that there is someone else in this vast, unforgiving world who feels the same. You will be reminded of all that’s out there just waiting for you to grab hold of. Marina Keegan has left behind an anthem of salvaged hope, one that I will put on repeat for a very long time.