May 14, 2019
It was my birthday yesterday. I turned 58.
I wish I could tell you how awesome a day it was. Like that my friends left cheery ‘Happy Birthday!’ messages on my voicemail. Or that one or two of them even bought me really thoughtful gifts that made me feel especially appreciated. Or that my lover surprised me with a beautiful bouquet of flowers, and made a really fantastic dinner which we joyfully shared together. Or that my oldest brother (highly uncharacteristic) called to say ‘Happy Birthday and how the hell are YOU?’
But it was just like any other day, I’m afraid. No friends called, because I don’t really have any. If you count facebook ‘friends’ as friends, well I do have a few of those. These would be people who are members of a group I joined 3 years ago, Gifted Adults. But there are certain limitations to e-friends, as you are well aware. Oh I should mention that at work, they managed to put together a little display of balloons with my name spelled on them, and a selection of snack foods and fruit. I have to say, that was kinda cute, and thoughtful.
I’m in a real challenging place these days. Having lived most of my life as a Loner, I’m now reconsidering whether that strategy has outlived its usefulness. It sure seemed to make a hell of a lot of sense to me at age 12. That would be 1973, summer, when my mom moved us to Milwaukee and I started junior high school. She had divorced my dad the year before. The effect of losing my dad was like that of a giant machete knife hacking me into 86 chunks of quivering flesh.
But I’m getting sidetracked. I titled this entry ‘You seem interesting’ because it’s a way, a strange one, for me to feel good about myself, on this day after my lonely birthday. I took a stab at building a network of friends by joining a Unitarian Universalist church down the road a few miles. I attended service regularly. I joined the choir for a time (I don’t wish to sound condescending, but the level of talent and musicality wasn’t what I hoped it would be), too. I even went to a few parties and outings. And I always made at least a shortish appearance at the coffee hour after service. One Sunday, I stood with my coffee cup in my hand, it was that interesting moment where you find yourself feeling a bit adrift, you know? Like you don’t know whether you should hover left or right, making eye contact with one of the group members, or should you walk toward the display? you’re hovering around or maybe in-between groups, having conversed superficially with others, who then departed to talk to others, and your friendly woman approached. I’ve been musing about that statement for two years, since that after-service coffee hour when the nice lady said that to me.