All I did was go to the grocery store mid-afternoon to pick up a prescription, cat food, milk, and toilet paper. (It’s supposed to snow tomorrow. There’s some sort of mandate in our state constitution that says all citizens have to buy milk and toilet paper if there’s snow in the forecast. So I did my civic duty and bought the last container of organic skim milk in the store and a couple of rolls of toilet paper.)
Lines were long and people were crazy. The nice lady behind me in line was buying some ground beef and a bag of cranberries, along with other things I didn't notice. We commiserated about the idiots in the line who slowed up the process by talking on their cellphones. She said cellphones should be banned in grocery store check-out lines and I agreed. We laughed and smiled, comrades in the check-out line. We’re both over a certain age—old biddies and no one cares about what we think anymore. I noticed that there were a lot of seemingly happy couples shopping on this midafternoon, two days before Thanksgiving, snow in the forecast. I thought, well at least the nice old biddy in line behind me, buying ground beef and cranberries, is alone too. Then she sees a man in the distance, waves and calls, “Tom, Tom, I’m here.” A perfectly lovely gray-haired man with his arms full of groceries joins her in the line. My sense of comraderie with the other old biddy instantly faded.
Yesterday I had lunch with three friends, all happily married for the second time. For me, the first marriage failed and there was no happy second marriage. The other women talked about domestic life in an entirely different way than I experience my life. They talked about planning trips and making decisions about household repairs and grown children and negotiating what they are doing for the holidays. They simply have someone there to share the mundane things in life and to support them through the tough stuff. They have partners who participate in those decisions.
So I came home and resumed painting the bookshelves in my office. By myself, of course. I’m not talking to anyone because for the past week I’ve had a bad case of laryngitis that relapsed because I talked some yesterday. So the feeling of aloneness and isolation is staring me in the face.
“I don’t want a man, I don’t want a man, I don’t want a man,” I whisper to myself repeatedly. I really don’t care. It's really good just as it is. There’s no one to upset my routine, no one to cook meals for, no one to intrude on my tranquility. But sometimes I do care. Sometimes it really hurts and I feel so alone that I want to scream. Like now. I would scream but I have laryngitis.