I am lonely, a state which I perpetuate.
Why is that, exactly?
Are there others out there like me? Are the Internets really populated with lone isolationists? Are we all becoming a people who only really communicate via machinery? It's like some fierce Bradbury tale, made all the more frightening by its reality.
I spring from a deep well os social isolationists. We are, none of us, successfully gregarious. Any outgoing bahavior is well-crafted and purposeful...that purpose being to expose ourselves as little as possible to the slings and arrows of the outside world.
My mother would happily live in the bosom of Teh Family forever. I cannot find the same solace there. Though I believe and expect I will be well cared for by my son and daughter-in-law should it ever come to that, I'd much rather form a circle of close friends; probably prefer that to be a group of women or young people, in which to grow older. I love my son but really don't want to make my life's work about him.
So I stand at the crossroad, though there is no demon here offering me eternal damnation in exchange for worldly gain, or is there? Is the devil the lure of ease, the false god of the path of least resistance and risk?
I went to the African-American bookstore just over the Delaware line down I-95 today. I had gotten an "e-vite" to a book sale to benefit the family of a premature child who died last week due, in a round-about way, to the complications of his prematurity. He was two years old. I got some details from the girl at the counter...something about his trach tube getting "tangled" and the mother being questioned by the police and the 'nurse' not accompanying the child in the ambulance or not being there at all and the baby "45 minutes" without oxygen.
I have enough medical knowledge to recognize a touch of hyperbole or exaggeration in the tale, but still...you have to wonder how different things might have been if this had been a white child from the suburbs rather than a poor, black, inner-city baby. Would the care have been different? Would the home health workers have been more caring? I don't think the emergency response would have been any different, at least I'd like to believe my colleagues in the emergency medical professions would rise beyond petty bigotries.
We all know it's different, don't we? Here in the Northeast the difference is divided by towns, roadways, color lines, municipalities. In the rural middle South, the divide is not so much color as $$$. Trailer park trash. Kentucky and Tennessee are unique, I think, in the ghettoization of whites...Appalachia and all that. In the deep south, well that's a whole world unto itself now, ain't it? Whole counties, parishes. Deeply entrenched in Jim Crow. Areas and states where the old ways are so deeply ingrained that only in the largest, most metropolitan or academic cities are people fully aware that things don't always have to be like this.
How did I get on this tangent? I started out bemoaning my lonliness.
I've made a friend in a young girl who until recently waitressed at my diner. I opened up enough to give her my cell phone number today, though I told her she'd better not be callin' me all day, every day! I am a cheap, old, white fart of a woman. She's a really good kid who has some growing up to do. She has three kids. She does well by herself and her children...I just hope she's not hanging onto the idea of a man and marriage as a panacea. I've encouraged her to get herr ass in school. So far she still seems mostly interested in men / boys / sex.
That's why we get along so well. I've told her about my Bajan fling. She tells me about the sex she's having with her ex-fiance. I give her advice. I tell her not to be stupid by thinking about trapping this man to get him back! You want a real relationship? You've got to be real.
It was a step for me to share things with...shall we call her Angela? For me to actually allow her access to personal information like my cell number...well, that's unheard of for me. We'll see.
The young woman at the African-American bookstore remembered me. She commented about my not bringing my friend (Tam) with me this time. I've walked by on many occassions since Tam and I went there in, what, March? I've not had the courage to go in by myself until today. It's only felt safe to be there with the safety cushion of my friend.
We talked a bit about the tragedy. She smiled a large and genuine smile when she bid me good-bye. You see, it's not that I don't hang around with people, whatever their color, because I dont like them or I'm afraid of them. I don't hang out with people because I'm always so afraid they will not like, accept, tolerate me. Or that I will say something to show what a complete ass I am.
Thursday night, toward the end of my shift, a nurse I work with at THAC* practically begged me to go have a beer with her and a few others from the ER. I really like this nurse, too. She's often in charge and is very fair and helpful in that capacity. She's a damned good nurse from what I can see. I should have gone. While it was true that I'd been yawning since I walked in the door, I could have managed to muster the energy for a single beer. They were going to a nearby pub I've wanted to investigate, too.
But, instead, I made excuses about not having my car and having to take care of the dog and being dog-tired. Then I came home and stayed up until almost 4AM anyway and slept until noon the next day. What a fucking waste of my time. And I really would have liked to go.
Most of the women I work with are younger than me...probably most in their late thirties, a few in their twenties and another couple of old farts like myself. Yet they/we seem to interact without many of the barriers differences in age can present. Okay, we're not talking about intergenerational age differences but, still, there can be a world of difference between someone born before 1970 and someone born afterward with no memory of the days before the Women's Movement.
Yet, despite the fact that they seem like a great group of women (it's primarily the women who go on these social outings) and despite the fact that I am becoming so tired of sitting here sorting through my psyche alone, I still bagged it.
Next time. I'll go next time. I hope it will be back to that quieter drinking hole they went to on Thursday and not to Barnaby's or the sports bar.
Has anybody ever dealt with these types of social anxieties? I keep hoping that as I learn more about myself and become more accepting of me as who I am, the fear will gradually lessen but it doesn't seem to be the case so far. Or maybe I'm just not far enough along yet. Or, just maybe, Rome wasn't built in a day and I've only worked there for a month (yesterday) and I'll just have to cut myself some slack and work toward the future.
See, I'm really very good at giving advice to others. I'm just not so accustomed to taking it.
On another note, my heat problems seem to be all fixed. I have a working thermostat and have it set, comfortably, at 66 degrees. Everywhere I went today, everything was overheated...the diner, the mall with the bookstore. We went down into the low 40's last nght and everybody's freaking out! Geez! Some of us are peri-menopausal! Can ya put a sweater on until we really need the heat, huh?
tags: anxiety / bitchy / family / friends / isolation / life / lonely / nurses / online therapy / race / racism / self-awareness / work