Secondhand Lonely

“‘Show? To who? Girl, I got my mind. And what goes on in it. Which is to say, I got me.’

‘Lonely, ain’t it?’ Nel’s question sticks out in my mind like the point of an index finger toward a shameful secret unfurled before a judgmental public. Lonely, ain’t it.

‘Yes. But my lonely is mine. Now your lonely is somebody else’s. Made by somebody else and handed to you. Ain’t that something? A secondhand lonely.'”

—Toni Morrison, Sula. New York: Knopf, 1976, parts quoted in Zoë Gadegbeku, “My Secondhand Lonely,” Slice. Spring/Summer 2017. Reprinted on

Much worth thinking about in Zoë Gadegbeku’s piece. For me, the deeply personal account obscures some points that could be made about the presentation of self, moving beyond romantic love and including alienation within larger communities, and so forth. But, I empathized with much that was said here even though I have a much different background.