I haven’t been to a wedding in years. Well, except taking my kids to see their teacher get married. Actually even before my marriage ended, I swore off most weddings. I married young, my parents didn’t really approve and didn’t rejoice in it. His family was, well, not traditional. And although it was okay, I started to envy the grown-up, joyous, better funded and better planned weddings I witnessed later. I usually went alone to my friends’ weddings anyway, my Ex hated weddings more than I did. After a while, I just stopped going to the very few invitations I got, unless it was a command performance family thing.
But this wedding was of the daughter of a woman who is a good, special person. The mother of the bride, Liz, her husband and daughters are former neighbors. Liz selflessly helped me — and my family — for a prolonged period in my prolonged time of need. She’ll be a topic of another post at a later time. Suffice it to say, as much I am usually disgusted by the mere thought of going to a wedding and reception, the fact that I haven’t been to one since my separation and divorce (even blew off my bridesmaid’s destination wedding — and she understood, see Remote Attendance at Weddings — Royal or Otherwise), I had to go to this one. I wanted to go to this one. Kind of. I wanted to see, but I didn’t want to go. In my fantasy world, I’d be the proverbial fly on the wall, I would materialize just long enough to congratulate the family, and then — Poof! Gone! But as I’ve discovered over the years, I am not magic.
First, let me say that the bridal shower was the day after my ex-husband got married.
(Insert knife, turn) See, I Was “The Nanny” When My Ex-Husband Got Married.
Next, I was invited, but the invitation did not allow me to bring a guest. Liz had given me a heads up earlier that they just couldn’t invite all of my kids to the reception, though they could come to the ceremony. I completely understood that, no problem. Five plates for kids, totally not worth it. And I also understand that it is appropriate to invite a single guest without including an invitation for him or her to bring a nameless date — some stranger to share in the bride and groom’s a special day. I get that.
It’s just that I’m a bit sensitive and unused to being single — truly legally single, at a wedding. But that was what was going to happen. As I said, I’ve gone stag before to weddings, my Ex skipped the receptions for both my best friend and my sister’s weddings, he didn’t want to go with me to my college friends’ weddings, which was fine, I had more fun without him with that crowd. So I’m used to doing things alone, before, during and now after my marriage. See, The New Walk of Shame for the Single Woman: Going Out Alone. But this was different. These people, to varying degrees, witnessed my nervous breakdown.
My kids love the mother of the bride, Liz, know her well, and the Bride and her sister used to babysit them from time to time and were my mother’s helpers when I had infant and toddler twins — so that I could, you know, wash myself or something. So I thought the kids would want to see the ceremony at a local church. Wrong. Only one managed to get off of the couch to go to the wedding. One daughter.
We walked in together. Me and my girl.
The church was full of familiar faces, familiar friendly faces. This wedding was a neighborhood affair, the neighborhood where the “marital” home was, the neighborhood to which I had brought all of my kids home from the hospital and neighbors showered us with gifts, the neighborhood where we were living when my family fell apart, the neighborhood from which the kids and I moved when I had to downsize. Most of these people knew my story. Many had seen me cry. So it was at once a very comfortable and a little awkward reunion.
A very sweet woman and her husband sat in the pew in front of us. Sally, I’ll call her. She used to live across the street from me. Correction, I used to live across the street from her. This woman has always been very supportive. She has suffered horrible tragedy in her life. After surviving breast cancer, including all of the necessary multiple surgeries and treatments, her oldest son died in a senseless accident at college. Unspeakable. Still, Sally is very outspoken, says whatever the hell is on her mind and adores her family. She has no love lost for my Ex and is one of the few people who has refused to exchange pleasantries with him. If looks could kill I would have been a widow long before I became a divorcee. She’d heard of his wedding.
Before the ceremony began, she turned to my daughter and asked, with a hint of a sneer,
“How was your Dad’s wedding?“
Me, in my head:
“Uh,What the hell? Oh no, make it stop, don’t show emotion, ahhhhh”
Me, in my head:
“Ahhh. No, please don’t talk about that. Not now. Not with my daughter. Not in front of me. Not at a wedding. NOOOO No No No NO NO NO. Please don’t say anything more, please.”
Sally pursed her lips; I held my breath. I could tell she was holding something back. I didn’t want her to say anything else. Thankfully, she turned around without saying more. I could tell she couldn’t figure out what to say that would express her opinion but wouldn’t be inappropriate to say in front of my daughter. So she self-censored, thank goodness. But it was a bit too late — for me. Oh my daughter was fine, but it made me feel like crap. I’m at a wedding and have to listen to my kid being questioned about my Ex’s wedding? Ouch.
(Insert knife, turn, twice.)
The music was Stevie Wonder and Jason Mraz, the bride was beautiful and spoke intelligently as they read their own vows, the groom looked thankful and promised to walk beside her — but also behind her as she achieved her success, and in front of her to shield her from danger. There were meaningful readings, and a very short sermon. (Actually, the minister was the one who referenced that this was a moment in time between an earthquake and a hurricane, I don’t want to use the words of a man of the cloth without giving him proper credit — lightning strike averted.) Anyway, the wedding was elegant without being stuffy, comfortable without being tacky. I would expect no less from and want no less for this family. They are good, good people. (And I barely had any of my normal internal negative running monologue about how everybody says the right things in the church, and may even mean it at the time, but . . . ) Perhaps I still believe in love after all. Huh. I just wish I could forget my regrets . . . but I digress . . .
During the ceremony I saw Sally grab her husband’s hand and squeeze it. He squeezed back. She laid her head on his shoulder. It was a sweet moment for the long-married couple. They have been through hell. This man eulogized his own son, for God’s sake. Through it all, though, they love each other, deeply. I was happy for them, too.
But as I was sitting there, it occurred to me: I had not felt this alone in a long while.
After the ceremony while still at the church Sally apologized to me for her comment about my Ex’s wedding. She explained what I already knew, that in her mind she was thinking it was nice for my daughter to see a young (but old enough) couple get married, both for the first time, with no baggage or no kids, from nice families, etc., kind of “the way it should be” — in contrast to what she imagined my Ex’s wedding was like with his five kids in tow, after a really cruel breakup and nasty divorce. I get it. And I know she meant well, but the apology made me feel worse. I just wanted to forget about it.
I had to drop my daughter back home before going to the reception. While there I had to mediate arguments over dinner and television. It was bad enough that I was going somewhere, a wedding reception no less, alone, but I also had to fight with my kids first.
Walking into the reception alone, I panicked for a second until I found my old friends, couples from the old neighborhood. Some of these folks have been beyond good to me, from sending me dinners, lending me money, to appearing as witnesses at court, one I’ve written about already, When I Needed a Helping Hand, and I may write about others. It’s important to share stories about goodness in the world. I’d seen some of these people recently so the greetings were more casual. From others, however, I got that “So how are you doing?” head tilt. Does anyone remember the Friends episode where Richard (Tom Selleck) tells Monica about how people greet him after his divorce? Yeah, that.
On a positive note, though, I also got the “You look great!” comment. That was nice, because these people had seen me when I didn’t look so great (huge understatement).
It was a sit down dinner, and we (meaning me and the couple I was talking to) made our way to our table where I discovered that —
I was seated at a table with four couples.
(Insert knife, turn three times.)
I felt so, so SINGLE — but not in a good way. Plus, I was also the only person of color at my table, which isn’t a big deal nor unexpected but it just fed into my feeling of being so obviously, visually ALONE. (Singing the Sesame Street song, “One of these things just doesn’t belong here . . .”)
Plus, these long-time married couples reminisced about their own weddings and remarked about how the bride and her friends probably just think “we’re the old guys” now.
(Insert knife, turn four times.)
So, now, not only was I without an escort and a third wheel — or more accurately a ninth wheel, I was one of the old guys, hanging out with happily middle-aged, comfortable, prosperous, tipsy, married people. After all, they had each other, good jobs, good times — past, present and future. And, they were having a good time at the wedding. It was all good. Except for me, I felt like I was watching everyone else have a good time, hell, a good life. I know things are not always what they seem, I know that couples are not always happy and certainly not all the time. Oh yeah, I know that. I mean, I was married once, you know. But I didn’t really want to talk to couples as couples and the truth is, as couples, as a group, I have less in common with them than I did before. If I had I been feeling better or had been drinking, I might have gone out to dance with the young singles, but I know that would have been — weird. My time for that is gone (and I’d never really experienced it, having married so young, and not been a drinker).
Eventually, we got up to mingle and dance.
I danced with other couples.
(Insert knife, turn five times.)
One married woman commented on a cute younger single guy, but added “not that he’d want a broken down broad like me.” This woman is not broken down, and is attractive (as is her husband). Suddenly I felt old by association. She was cool with it, because she does not need new male companionship. Well, I do. And what if I’m a broken down broad, or at least categorized that way? Remember that early Sex and the City episode when Samantha dates a younger man who actually refers to her as an older woman? She was shocked, like “Is that how he sees me?” It’s one thing to be alone, it’s another to feel like you’ve been put out to pasture. Especially when you’ve never even been to the Rodeo (enough bad analogies, I know). See Undateable, Part II.
My friend Sally had had a few drinks, or not, she didn’t really need it. She doesn’t need alcohol to express herself. It was so good to see she and her husband out and enjoying themselves. After the death of their son — well, I didn’t know if Sally would be able to go on. I can’t blame her. But here she was, loud and sassy, dancing with her husband. At one point she said to me, “It’s so nice to be at a wedding instead of a funeral.” Then she flitted off.
Later, out of nowhere she pulled me, actually grabbed and pulled me from my conversation with another ex-neighbor, and dragged me to the dance floor. I thought she just wanted to get me to dance.
Wrong! To my horror, she was dragging me out there to catch the bridal bouquet. There I was with the 28-year old, child-free, professional, drunk friends of the bride and groom. Awkward.
(Insert knife with serrated edge, turn six times.)
“You didn’t even try!” She scolded me when I failed to catch the bouquet.
She was right. I didn’t even try.
“You deserve a good man,” She said.
See, you gotta love her. Her heart is in the right place. She wants me to believe in love. She still does. And apparently she believes that the bouquet thing actually works.
Sally does love, deeply, even though she has suffered so. She calls her husband her soul-mate, yet outwardly they seem to be opposites. Anyone remember the show Dharma and Greg? The flower child woman who marries the blue blood attorney? Yeah Sally and Rob are like that, but older — she’s an artist, a former dancer, a wild child, dog-lover, mouthy and loud — he’s a straight-laced corporate type. But their love has survived cancer and the death of their first-born, along with the debilitating depression that followed. That’s some serious love. So I can’t be mad at her. I was happy to see her smile. And I’m glad people care about my happiness and wish me the best.
But being dragged out onto the dance floor to catch the wedding bouquet? Awkward. I’m not going to fight bridesmaids who used to babysit my kids to catch a freakin’ wedding bouquet. No.
When I returned the self-described “broken down broad” whispered to me when I got back, “I tried to warn you.” I hadn’t heard her. Damn.
Well, I made it until it was an acceptable time to leave. I walked out with another couple. Liz gave me a centerpiece to take home. Beautiful flowers, but hard to carry home — ALONE. Damn thing fell over as I drove, I had no one to hold it for me or drive while I held it. Another pang of loneliness hit me. It was pretty. I like flowers, but I didn’t need a souvenir from a wedding. You might recall that my kids brought me back leftover flowers from my ex-husband’s wedding. See I Was The Nanny When My Ex-Husband Got Married.
Bottom line is: I love this family. That’s why I went. But in going I had taken a trip back to a prior life and felt that I didn’t belong there. It reminded me of how much my world has changed, and moreover, it reminded me that no matter how single — free — I am now, there is no complete “do-over” for me. It was appropriate for me to be seated with those couples. They are my friends. But it did cause me to be fearful that it was a snapshot of what I can expect from now on . . . feeling like a kid at the grown-up table . . . but too old to be at the kids’ table. The night was also a painful reminder of how bad the bad times had been for me and of how many people at this affair had witnessed them. I look forward to seeing these people individually, but the whole wedding thing was just too much for me. I’m a sensitive sort.
I left feeling happy for the bride, groom and the families. But I came home feeling pretty down. I had tried, but I could not have fun. Just couldn’t do it. Still, I’m glad I went to this particular wedding, the bride being the daughter of an angel and all, even though it took an emotional toll.
I know I have much to be thankful for; but I’ve been known to suffer from the melancholy anyway (another understatement).
Let me be clear, though. I do not miss being married to my Ex, or being married at all. I did not wish he was there and did not wish I’d had a date or boyfriend. In fact, I can’t imagine ever getting married again, let alone being someone’s girlfriend. My sadness stems from all the crap I’ve gone through (and the fact that so many of the people at that wedding knew about my crap, and have seen me at my worst), and it all leaves me wondering,
“Where do I fit in? ”
You see, I didn’t envy the couples I was seated with. Well, maybe I envy their prior youthful shenanigans that I missed out on, but I feared their present state of being settled and okay with being “the old guys” or a “broken down broad.” That’s not me. Yet I didn’t belong out there catching the bouquet either. Truth is, I didn’t belong at any table. I should have been a fly on the wall.
I haven’t felt right since, to tell the truth. It was a hard, beautiful night. And the next night, well . . . there was a hurricane.
Just Me With . . . some leftover wedding flowers . . . again — But NOT the bouquet!
Okay, it’s been years now since he moved out. It’s a different bed. Hell, it’s a different house. And he’s married now, for goodness sake.
So why am I still sleeping on my side of the bed?
It’s amazing how old movies take on such different meanings after that stuff happens to you!
Like the scene in When Harry Met Sally when they discuss their post break up sleeping habits. It went right over my head for years – when I was married. Until my unfortunate (or fortunate) events brought it to the forefront and made it exceedingly relevant.
Harry: Ok, fine. Do you still sleep on the same side of the bed?
Sally: I did for a while but now I’m pretty much using the whole bed.
Harry: God, that’s great. I feel weird when just my leg wanders over. I miss her.
I actually enjoy sleeping alone; I don’t miss sleeping with him. But unlike Sally, I don’t use the whole bed, either.
What is it?
There’s the practical considerations, namely that my phone and alarm clock are on one side. But really that would explain why I get up on that side not my entire sleeping geography.
My ambien is on that side too. Now I’m talking. Once ingested I tend to sleep in whatever position I was in when I took a sleep aid. I realized this fact when I woke up very sore two weeks ago, in the same position I lay my head down in.
But I don’t take a sleep aid every night.
So why stay on one side of the bed?
It’s like I’m saving a place for someone.
Am I waiting for Prince Charming?
Or am I still programmed to be part of a couple?
Or is it just a force of habit?
Like Harry, I was married a long time, longer than I’ve been separated or divorced. And though I’ve had visitors to my bed on occasion, I’ve never had anyone stay more than one night (and, honestly, those single nights were too damn long). Divorced Harry stayed on his side of the bed. Was it the marriage thing? Does my body still think it’s a marital bed?
Maybe being curled up on my side of the bed is just my way of snuggling — with myself.
I remember when just days after my then husband moved out one of my daughters asked me,
“Who’s going to sleep with you now?”
Damn, still waiting for an answer to that.
In the meantime, here is a product I accidentally found online. I swear I wasn’t looking for this.
The Companion Pillow.
This is the pillow that holds you when your partner cannot. Shaped like a man’s torso, the pillow has a flexible arm that wraps around you as you lie on its burly, comforting chest. Made from fiber-fill, the pillow contours to your body and provides a soft sleeping surface that’s both physically and emotionally supportive. The pillow is dressed in a soft polyester button-down dress shirt, and unlike the real thing, the pillow won’t keep you awake with incessant snoring. Cover is removable and machine-washable. 24″ L x 17″ W x 7″ H. (2 lbs.)
Just Me With . . . no one on his side of the bed.
Update: The Companion Pillow is apparently no longer available at Hammacher. If you are interested, there are other retailers offering the same or similar products.
If you are interested. I, however, am not.
See posts about visitors to the other side of the bed:
I recently took The New Walk of Shame for the Single Woman: Going Out Alone. I had attended a jam session/fundraising event by myself. Something happened on my out, though, that I could have handled differently.
The jam session was nearing the end. People had come and gone throughout the evening, but the night was almost over. When a group of guys left I decided to walk out with them so I wouldn’t have to navigate out of the creepy building and out into the night alone. I waved goodbye to the host, who was busy playing keyboards. He gave me the “call me” sign as I followed the others out. The others were father and son guitar players and an Up and Coming Rapper (Question: Why do so many Rappers call themselves Up and Coming?)and his Manager. Together we figured out where to take the stairs down (no one knew how to work the freight elevator), and we walked out together making small talk on the way out.
The Up and Coming Rapper and his Manager’s conversation was spiced with curse words about how tired they were because they had come from another industry event. I tried to pin them down about where they were coming from (they were late arrivals at the jam session, just there for some face time I think), but the Manager was vague. Exiting the building, the father and son disappeared, leaving me with the Up and Coming Rapper and his Manager.
The Manager, who was lighting up a cigarette, called to me:
“Hold up, you married?” And the evening had been going so well, I lamented.
“No” I responded, because I’m not married anymore, I have not been legally married for five months (but who’s counting).
I kept walking. He followed.
“You single, you got a boyfriend?”
“Yes, I’m single.”
“So you single?”
“Yes.” Because I am. I am so damn single.
“You got kids?”
“Five. I’m divorced.” (With so many kids, sometimes I feel the need to explain that I was once married.)
“Yeah, I’m divorced, too.” He said. “Well, can I give you my number?”
“I’m not into hanging out with anybody right now.” My stock answer.
“Neither am I, you know we can just . . . (he ran through a littany of over the top activities I have no interest in, then other tamer activities, I have no interest in sharing with him.) ” Then he said some other stuff. But I wasn’t listening. I just wanted to get in my car and go home.
“So can I give you my number?” He was persistent, and my stock rejection line hadn’t worked.
“Uh, sure.” Why? Why? Why? Because I’m an idiot. See The Landscaper Guy and The Female Chandler Bing.
Have I mentioned that I’m not really used to being single?
As I started to put his number in my phone and hoped for a sudden attack of dyslexia, he said, “Let me see,” and actually leaned over to look at my phone to make sure I was really entering his number! Geesh.
Then I said, “Well, I gotta go. Nice to meet you.” He made some other small talk I can’t remember —- or I just wasn’t listening.
As he started to walk away he turned and said,
“So are you gonna call?”
Ohhhh. I was just minutes from a clean get away (like Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment).
“We’ll see.” I said in what I thought a nice voice. I am so freakin’ bad at this crap.
“We’ll see,” he parroted back, mimicking my nice voice, in a not-so-nice way, and he jogged up the block to join the Up and Coming Rapper, who was waiting for him, smoking.
*shudder* I got in my car as quickly as possible.
Obviously, I just was not feeling this guy. I did not like his approach. I did not care for his manner of speaking. I’m not a smoker. I wasn’t impressed with his industry talk. I didn’t even enjoy his client’s music. Just — ick. It occurred to me later that the whole exchange could have been avoided had I just said, “I’m seeing someone.” After all, his questions about my relationship status seem to suggest that having another man in the picture was a deal-breaker for him.
Why didn’t I just comply and pull out the fake boyfriend?
The Fabricated Boyfriend can be very convenient. Single women have been using him for years,
I think he dates back to the Stone Age.
My answer: Because I thought I was supposed to be embracing my new single status.
In my tortured thinking, since I had been someone’s girlfriend or wife for many, many years, I thought that I was supposed to say loud and proud — I’m single, unattached, free. WRONG!!! Isn’t it the prerogative of a true single lady to lie when necessary and expedient? For safety? To save time or someone’s dignity? C’mon — the ole “I’m not feeling well” or “I’m not ready yet” or “It’s not you, it’s me” ? It’s married people who can’t lie. If you are married, you’d better ‘fess up to your status. If you are single, you can be creatively coupled when necessary, in my after-the-fact humble opinion.
The bottom line is, I knew I was never going to call this guy. And that’s okay. Being single doesn’t mean that I have to entertain every offer of male companionship I receive, I’ve learned. See Landscaper Dude and a Phone Smarter Than Me. That said, I was standing on the street alone with Rapper Manager and was in a situation where I had to reject him and provide a valid explanation which would end the exchange yet not piss him off. I had to say something. I should have lied.
So what have I learned from this? Okay, yes, I am Single. Not married. No boyfriend. But not every person in every situation needs to know this. Being single doesn’t mean I that I have to be so damn honest about it. Had I lied immediately and said I have a boyfriend, Rapper’s Manager guy could have walked away with his dignity, I could have walked away without fear of retaliation or passive aggressive nastiness.
Going forward with my new single status, I reserve the right to pull out the fake boyfriend as the situation demands. I realize now that it is not a sign of weakness, especially when going out alone, nor is it a sad attempt to cling to my previous “couple” status. Some guys just need to go away by any means necessary and I will concoct an imaginary boyfriend when I need to, damn it.
Just Me With . . . a boyfriend . . . in my pocket.
For a rejection without use of a fake boyfriend, see “I Turned Down A Dinner Date With An Ex-Con.”
On Twitter I dubbed it “The New Walk of Shame for The Single Woman — Going Out Alone,” though there’s nothing really shameful about it. It’s just not something that I want to be so . . . obvious, or frequent for that matter. But of course it is what it is.
Still, as I walked out of my house in the ‘burbs, wearing a little black top, jeans and heels on a Saturday evening right before nightfall, I felt the little ick. Perhaps under cover of darkness I would have felt differently. After all, I was just going out. I wasn’t turning tricks or anything. (Ironically, even prostitutes are usually getting into a car with someone. Not me. Solo all the way.) Still, I felt weird, exposed.
In the first place, I hadn’t felt like going out at all. I was exhausted and frankly, tired of going places alone, tired of driving. I also hadn’t been sleeping well and had forgotten to eat — again. See, Confessions of a Skinny Mom. Additionally, I tend to be “melancholy” (sounds so much better than clinically depressed) and it’s hard for me to get out — yet that is exactly what I must do, or so I’m told. Plus, I really hate driving and this was going to be about a thirty minute ride. On the other hand, had I stayed home, well, there may have been tears or chores or nothing special, followed by guilt and anger for the tears, chores or nothing special. See Weekends Off. I would have beaten myself up for not going out on the one of two nights a month when the kids are gone and when this time, coincidentally– luckily, there was actually someplace where I could go — alone. Oh yeah, there was a whole carnival fun house of competing emotions going on my head. So I forced myself to go out. This again is where it is helpful to have people with you. When required to meet someone or when a friend is picking you up, you can’t bail. That little voice that says “just stay home” is naturally squelched. But when going out alone, well, a woman can change her mind at the last minute. A woman’s prerogative. No one would be disappointed, no one would be left waiting, no one would be the wiser. I confess that I have driven myself places, or attempted to drive myself places and gotten lost, not found parking, etc. and ended up turning around and going home without ever having left the car. This has happened, more than once.
On this particular night I got the ick walking to my car. It probably hadn’t helped that I’d just watched the Season Five Sex And The City Episode where Carrie does not have a “Plus One” for her big book release party and admits to loneliness, Charlotte admits to not liking the sound of talking about her divorce and Miranda avoids telling a man she’s become a mother. All three of those hit home for me.
So as I walked to my car to go out, my feeling was somewhat reminiscent of the traditional “Walk of Shame” home that a woman makes in broad daylight, wearing the same clothes from the night before. That look screams: “You had somebody last night, you were doing something all night, but now you’re on your own, and everybody knows it.”
I felt like the walk to my car in daylight and heels screamed: “Single woman, all alone and trying to get some action.” It’s my own paranoia, fueled by the fact that I’ve been known to “people watch,” and I know that if I saw myself going out like that in daylight — alone on a Saturday evening— I’d say,
“I wonder where she’s going?“
I just wanted to get in my car as quickly as possible.
I realize that the fact that I play music gives me a huge advantage for going out alone. Music provides me with night-time activities, like jam sessions, or going out to listen to other musicians I know play, where I can have a really good excuse for being alone, even in bars. This particular event was a jam session/fundraiser for a music studio run by a guy I’d gone to school with many years ago. I’m on his mailing list and get impersonal invitations all the time. I’d never gone before. I’d never really seriously considered going. But this was going to be the night that I would actually go, damn it. I felt obligated — not to him — but to me. It was a timing thing. It was a night I could go, and a place to go.
The studio was at a location I’d never been to, in the part of the city where I’ve gotten lost more than once. But it is a new world now. I wasn’t really traveling alone, not anymore — now I had my new best friend Miss GPS, who right now is a very polite British woman. Let’s call her Emma. Emma tells me when to turn and when to “take the Motorway.” I programmed Emma and she guided my journey. Once I “reached my destination” and parked, I checked in with my Twitter friends, who were giving me the thumbs up for going out alone.
Okay. Lipstick on, glasses off. Valuables (meaning Emma) hidden, car locked. I retrieved the entry code for the security door from my email invitation and was ready to go. Following the prompts, I entered the code on the door.
Unfortunately, the call went directly to voicemail, which was full! Crap. No one was answering to buzz me in.
I tried again, repeatedly. This is when having someone with me might have been helpful. You know, someone to complain to, bounce ideas off of . . . someone to make me not look so stupid. I mean, picture it, a woman alone, dressed for going out, in an iffy neighborhood, standing in front of a building and —– no one is buzzing her in!
Tragic, I tell you. Tragic.
I went back to the safety of my car. Safe, that is, from the public humiliation of being rejected by a security entry door. I was about to tweet about my epic failure of the night and go home, when, out of the corner of my eye I saw that someone had opened the door. It was my Knight in Shining Armor (or, more accurately, some guy in a Lucky Brand Jeans Tee-Shirt)! Yay! Someone had been sent down to let me in! My calls were not unanswered! I was not going to be left alone in my car to do the drive of shame back home. I was going in!
The Lucky Brand guy whom I’d never met showed me upstairs in the not completely renovated warehouse type building, walking me down long narrow hallways of exposed brick. We took the freight elevator up. I wondered for a moment whether I should have told someone where I was going so that if I were to say — go missing — my loved ones would have a general location to give to the police for questioning.
But no worries, I safely entered the studio, full of people who were not scary. I panicked for a split second when I didn’t see the only guy I expected to know. But he was there, and when he saw me, he gave me a hug and said,
“What a nice surprise.”
First part of my mission had been accomplished. I had arrived, alone, albeit slightly overdressed. But I was there. Doing the visual room check it appeared that most people came with someone, of course. Some were couples, some were related, some were friends. While the people were open with introductions, they mostly talked to each other. I immediately joined the jam, avoiding the standing alone awkwardness. When I wasn’t playing I parked myself in an area to watch and listen (and where, by design, I didn’t have to talk). One other good (or bad) thing about music events is that a person can be there and never really have a conversation at all and, more importantly, the lack of conversation is not so obvious. This makes my attendance “minus a Plus One” a little less alone, and it comes as quite a relief to my road dog, Ms. Social Anxiety, who is often with me, even if no one else can see her . . . bwa ha ha ha.
In the end, though, I got out of the house, out of my neighborhood, and stepped out of the box (a different type of music, even played a different instrument for a little while). Plus, I do love music. And it is absolutely true that music brings people together without any talking at all — it breaks down both language and more importantly for me, social barriers, and really, how cool is that?
My English Electronic Friend Emma and I returned home safely — under cover of darkness.
Just Me With . . . no shame after a night out, alone.
And I got hit on . . . Where Did I Put My Fake Boyfriend?
I was at a school function. It was already obvious to me that although I was acquainted with most of the parents there, I had no real friends. People said hi but no one stayed to talk to me, I changed locations three times to try to either strike up a conversation or make it less obvious that I had no one to talk to. Then when I finally settled on a spot, I overheard a mother talking really loudly, stating,
“It is so much harder to be a married mother than a single mother. I don’t get three nights off a week. I have to run the kids around by myself every day! He’s never around!”
Two other women nodded in agreement, a little uncomfortably.
One kind mother who also overheard this statement and who obviously knows my marital status, turned to me and said quietly,
“Do you find it easier to be a single mom?”
Gotta love her for recognizing my discomfort among the Stepford Wives in my community. (I’m not suggesting that all married women are Stepford Wives, this is a description of the particular women who offended me ). The kind soul who recognized my discomfort is a psychiatrist and one of the moms in an interracial lesbian relationship. So she has probably felt like she doesn’t fit in either. But at least she had her partner with her. I was alone. It was so insensitive for that other mouthy mother (fucker) to be talking like that, that loudly. Didn’t she think that one of those supposedly breezy single mothers might be in her midst? She’s entitled to her opinion, but geesh. It hurt a little; it hurt a lot. It felt like hearing a religious or racial slur from a person you wouldn’t expect it from.
Let the record reflect that I was once married. And I was married with children for eight years. And I’d like to say that I’ve known this woman since our oldest kids were in kindergarten. She was married then and she’s still married now. I was married then, I am not married now. So out of the two of us, I am infinitely more qualified to make the comparison between married with kids and single with kids. I’m the one who has been on both sides.
I say this because I know a married woman’s desire, the fantasy of a having her husband say, “I’m taking the kids for the weekend.” You do whatever you want, or “you go –I got this.” And I recognize that most married women never get a weekend for themselves, unless it is some preplanned girls’ weekend that only happens very infrequently and she has to “pay back” her husband for the privilege somehow. So I get it. My husband never took the kids, I was never completely “off duty.” I completely understand when I hear still married women envy single moms and their traditional every other weekend off. (Which, I might add is not a law, it doesn’t come with the divorce.) I get it. And I get that when my kids are on their (half weekend) visitations, I have absolutely no responsibility for them. I can go out, I can entertain at home. I can sleep in, I can walk around naked and listen to inappropriate music and watch R rated movies or porn —- in the family room! I get it. In its purist simplest sense visitation time is guaranteed time away from the kids that married women do not get. And I get that married women have parental responsibilities that are not necessarily shared with their husband and plus, they are maintaining a relationship. I get it. So I don’t take anything away from married women with children. Did I say that I get it? Because I do. I’ve been there.
However, for many single women with children, the myth of the carefree weekends off is just that — a myth.
First of all, single mothers do not always have one whole weekend off every other week. In my case it is not a whole weekend. It is one night every two weeks. (And I’m not complaining about that, it’s just what it is.) Second, my kids do not “summer” with anyone but me. (And I’m not complaining about that either). Some fathers don’t take their kids at all. Some take them out of spite or to reduce child support payments. Some parents have the best intentions but the children are carted back and forth according to an elaborate schedule based on percentages and someone else’s norm — an attempt to literally “split the baby.” Nothing breezy about it.
Second, and more, importantly, the time that the children are away is by court order. So this is not time for me, on a day good for me and/or that fits my friends’ schedules or the schedules of my favorite hobby. It is not a time where someone who loves me says that he will take care of everything that needs to be done in order for me to have some fun or relaxation in appreciation for all that I do. No, it is a time I am required to present my children to someone who, in my case, has shown complete disrespect for me. It is HIS time with the kids during which he can do whatever he wants with whomever he wants. It doesn’t matter whether I’d rather have the kids at home or whether I wanted to do something with them, I’m not allowed to have my kids home on designated days. For me, the guaranteed time away from my children is not a good feeling. For me, it often involves tears, Xanax, excessive cleaning, excessive sleep or hardly any sleep at all.
I once explained it this way.
Imagine your child having a minor medical procedure which required a hospital stay. It is something that needs to be done, but you’ve put off. It is something that is not life-threatening and you know your child will not intentionally be harmed but he or she will experience some discomfort. You spent all week preparing your child for this but really, you wish he/she didn’t have to go. You are not permitted to stay in the hospital with your child, you are not permitted to call. But in the long run, it has to be done. Plus, you have no choice.
Now, under this scenario you have a guaranteed free evening, right? Child-free!! Woo-Hoo! Feel much like going out? Would you arrange for a girls night out or a date with someone you met online for the very night you knew your kid was going to be in the hospital, simply because you knew it was one night where you wouldn’t have to get a sitter? Really?
My point is, not every child-free night is a blessing . . . or fun.
Here’s another example:
I remember after giving birth to my first. They kept him in the hospital one day longer than me because they needed to monitor his heart as a precaution (he’d had a pre-natal heart murmur). They told me to go home and get sleep and come back in the morning. I went home. I was up and standing by the bed fully dressed at 6am, still dripping and stitched from giving birth. My husband was fast asleep. (I think it scared him a little when he awoke and I was standing over him. bwahahaha. ) I don’t know how he could sleep. I hadn’t even known this kid for more than two days. I was physically more exhausted than I’d ever been in my life, but the idea of using my baby’s hospital stay to catch up on sleep was completely ridiculous.
Fast forward. Post divorce.
A friend of mine was hosting a school of rock type performance at her house. Kids playing real instruments in a band. I would have loved to have taken my kids. But, it wasn’t my day. The event was at 4:00pm, I had presented the kids for visitation at 2:00pm. I went anyway in support of other people’s kids. I had to fight back tears. My friend noticed my sadness. She has four kids of her own, is married and a stay at home mom. Probably never gets a real break.
She said, “It must be weird not to have your kids here.”
“Yeah, it is. ” I quickly added, “I don’t like it.” She nodded in silence.
Back to the school function and the mouthy lady.
I didn’t say anything to the lady. I’m sick of my circumstance and marital status and don’t feel like defending, explaining or even addressing it. I just wanted to see my kids’ event and possibly enjoy it with other parents. Well, at least I saw my kids. I enjoyed it alone, albeit a bit uncomfortably. Regardless of her right to her opinion, that woman’s behavior was rude, and without regard for the feelings of others.
For the record, I sometimes get sick of the single mom hype, too. I tire of the label. I don’t want to be put on a pedestal. I hate that. I don’t want pity. I hate that, too. But envy? Envy for a situation you know nothing about? I hate that most of all.
The myth of the weekends off — well, it’s not what it’s cracked up to be, it’s not the same as a married woman’s weekend off– if she ever gets one, it’s not the same for every single mother. My personal experience has been horrendous, despite my court-ordered night “off” and often because of it.
And that mouthy woman? I doubt we’ll ever be friends.
Just Me With . . . my children . . . at home tonight. Thank God.
I am angry. That is how my depression manifests itself these days. I’m off the floor. I don’t cry. But I have no patience for anyone and I’m pushing people away. That’s my M.O. I’m blinded by rage and can’t see anything but thankless obligation. Suppressing myself for the common good. That is what I do, that is what mothers must do. Therein lies my rage. It’s not pretty. It’s not good. Since I can’t let it out, it gets turned inward. And it waits. Customer service people and drivers beware.
No, I don’t bash my Ex in front of my kids, yes, I show support for his choices. Because I have no choice. blah blah blah And, I count my blessings for having healthy kids, living parents, a roof over my head, and an Ex who pays court-ordered child support. Yes, I know the drill. Those will tell me to put on my big girl panties, pray, etc. Yes, I know the drill. I’m not an idiot. I’m not a Stepford Ex-Wife either — though I play one in real life during every waking hour. I don’t drink. I never utter a profanity in front of my kids. I’m a good girl.
But just under the surface, is my rage, this is where my poor choices, failed career, and misspent youth doing the right things fester, while I watch, drive, stand in the rain, in support of everyone else or dry the tears and say the “right” things when someone comes to me crying because of something someone else did, or accept being ignored when it is not “my day.” I listen to crap to keep the peace and I bite my tongue while people pity me for not meeting my or their expectations. I say thank you when my mothering gets praised when I’ve never felt so alone. Yet I know that children are fickle creatures and will gravitate toward those who fulfill their needs and cling to those who fail them. I’m honored to have certain people in my life, yet curse myself for having needed them so badly. And I know that there are people suffering horribly from unspeakable disease, trauma and disaster, so how dare I be angry about anything? Yes, yes, I know, I know the drill. So again, thou shall not have feelings . . .
So I’m angry. And the perfect empowered, pump wearing, summer house, happily c0-parenting with one child, dinner party, career-minded, alumni event and conference attending, people can shake their heads and waggle their tongues, all because I have feelings and dare to get pissed. And, that’s why I’m pissed. I have feelings. I do the “right” things for my family — my broken home, but it is not and never has been enough for me and . . . I’m . . . pissed. I’m doing for my children, and I hope they do well and I hope to assist them to gain the tools necessary to do whatever they want to do — live their life, achieve what they want . . . happiness. But this —- this, is my life now and it . . . makes . . . me . . . mad. And I do not like it.
I realize I may get negative nastiness from this. Get in line, and take a number — Bash Me in Aisle Two, Use Me in Aisle One. These are, apparently, what I am here for, my true calling.
And this, my friend, is the voice of depression.
Just Me With . . . rage
I am the most bitter of bitter, clinically depressed and all around down in the dumps – – most of the time. But something strange happened, something occurred to me that made me . . . . smile. I think I just heard a collective gasp from my readers, it’s shocking I know, really shocking. But I smiled . . . I smiled . . . regarding the impending nuptials of my ex-husband, a man I had been with since the tender age of 16, a man with whom I share the only children I’ll ever have, a man who, after many years of marriage, suddenly told me, simply, “I have to go,” on one snowy night after we had put our children to bed.
Now, a mere four months after our prolonged and contentious divorce became final, he has announced plans to remarry (well, he left me a voice mail). Though I do think it sets a better example for our tween and teen children, I have many concerns, many scowls and curses about the whole idea of it and the manner in which it has unfolded. All fodder for another post for another day . . . maybe, . . . or maybe not.
But the story today is not so vile
The story today is about my Grinch-like smile,
which started out small and then started to grow . . .
it started, of course, when I realized and thought . . .
I thought and I realized that them tying the knot
means a knot will be tied and . . . he’s all knotted up!
In other words, minus the bad Seuss inspired prose.
He’ll be married while I– am– free!
My ex-everything will be on lock down, committed, his relationship and his ownership of property will be governed by our state’s laws, he will be bound in matrimony. His dating and new relationship days are over. Even now, he’s running around getting stuff for the wedding and speaking in the royal “we” while I am, in a word — free.
This is all new for me. I was married young and for many years. For most of my life, I was someone’s girlfriend, someone’s wife; hell, I was his girlfriend, his wife. Now, I’m not. Did you hear it? Did you feel it? There has been a small shift somewhere in the universe and everything has changed . Next month, he’ll be somebody’s husband and I’ll be NOBODY’S wife. (smile) In a strange way, this has set me free in a way that separation and divorce and even other men did not. This is a statement to the world that our epic romance, and crippling break-up — is — over. And the fact that I’m okay with that part of it, even though I was royally dumped, will be so much more obvious when he makes his vows to another woman and . . .
I . . .DON’T . . . LAY . . . DOWN . . . AND . . . DIE.
Oh, I’m still pissed about a lot of things, don’t get me wrong. Sure there will be more announcements, more crap to deal with; it’s another chapter in a book I didn’t want to read. And I’m not even addressing here my larger concerns about difficulty dealing with them both where the kids are concerned, his lingering hostility toward, pity and disrespect of me, the fact that I never got a chance to be single while younger and without children, the opportunities I may have missed because I married young, and that he is getting a do-over in a way, as a woman and mother, I cannot. But . . . still . . . I’m free.
Soon, we will no longer just be living separately. He’ll be living married and I’ll be living single. If you’ve read my other posts, you know I haven’t jumped into the dating waters with both feet. I stick my toes in, maybe up to my knees, then get out where it’s warm, apply my sun (man) screen and enjoy the fresh air. However, whenever I do get in — whether I jump, inch in slowly, get pushed or perhaps pulled in, it’ll be my thing. I’ll make stories to tell, stories that for once, don’t include him.
“Oh the places [I’ll] go . . .”
And you know what? I don’t have to settle for the random landscaper dude. I can do better. I deserve better.
Just Me With . . . a smile. heh heh heh
Related Posts: How Do I Feel About My Ex-Husband Getting Married?
The front of my house is on a busy street. The back of my house is on an alley. Not too much privacy. But since purchasing this little fixer home, I’ve been dutifully working on the yard. . Last year with the help of a friend I put down a flagstone patio. I built a fire pit by myself. I put up a split rail fence. This year the plan is to plant something that would give us a sense of privacy. But on this day, I was simply moving buckets of rock mulch from one part of the yard to another.
It was a beautiful day. I was dressed in jeans, T-shirt, baseball cap, work boots, no make-up, glasses on but the lenses had transitioned to dark (so maybe I looked like I had on sunglasses). I wasn’t a beauty queen, wasn’t trying to be.
A man walked by, probably on his way to a nearby bus stop or train. Asked me if I needed help with my landscaping, said he really only does it as a side job, he’s in school right now. No, I say, I usually do it myself. (I was doing it myself, thank you very much.) He said he wouldn’t charge much, that he could plant and mulch for me. Again I say — I do it myself. Of course, I told him if I need him I’ll let him know. (I gotta stop doing that). He asked me if I lived alone, asked me if I was married, if I had a boyfriend, if I was looking. He offered, and I allowed him to, carry my bags of top soil from my car into my yard. Again, a woman doing exterior work, SCREAMS single to men. See The Snowman
Now, if you’ve read my previous posts you know that I am trying to open myself up to meeting new men. But does that mean ANY new man? Must I be indiscriminate?
He spoke fairly well and had all his teeth. (Could my bar BE any lower? Chandler Bing style) He wanted us to hang out, nothing big, maybe dinner or a movie. I said, “Can I think about it?” He wanted a way to contact me. Instead of offering my number, I asked for his number to put into my phone. He said he doesn’t have a cell phone right now, he dropped it in concrete. (This man was exhibiting the classic I don’t have a job giveaways — “I’m in school” “I don’t have a phone right now” and he appeared not to have a car in this suburban area.) Plus, though he spoke well and had a nice smile, he was sweaty, had a scarf on his head, had on a white tee and sweatpants. Since I don’t need a suit guy, his casual appearance is not a deal breaker . . . but his overall mojo was not working for me. Still, I gave him my number.
When he called the next day, he did not identify himself. (Poor phone manners, bad)
“Hey, are you busy?“
“Kinda, who is this?“
“Darren.” He said he wanted to talk, wanted to set up a time when we could get together and get to know each other.
I explained, truthfully, that I was in a store, and had a meeting that afternoon. Also, since I knew I’d be busy with the kids’ concert that night I asked if he could call tomorrow. Plus, I’d just found out that my Ex-husband is getting married again, in a horrible way and I didn’t feel like small talk right then and there with random alley walking landscaper guy. He said he’d call me tomorrow, but wanted to know whether he should call or just come by. (Dude, a call is sufficient.)
“Okay,” I said, “Nice talking to you, good . . . ” — click. He didn’t say goodbye or allow me to finish. (Poor phone manners, again.)
Bottom line: I don’t feel like talking to this guy. Is it because I’m justifiably not feeling him or it is because I’m still avoiding getting out there? Or is it because I was having a weird day, finding out about my Ex’s remarriage and all.
So, here are the red flags for me from Random-Landscaper-Guy-Wanna-Be. Everybody’s flags are different.
1. He lives in my neighborhood.
Frankly it’s not the best neighborhood, not the worst either, depends on the block and the house. He didn’t tell me which house he lives in. Still, he may know people I know or who know my ex’s family, some of whom live nearby, and I’m kinda turned off by going out with random dude. [Stranger Danger! Stranger Danger! — as my kids would say] Plus, what if I do go out with him and it’s not good — I may not want to see him walking behind my house routinely (I had a stalking incident at one time, so I’m a little gun-shy).
2. He had no phone.
Okay, so like most people I’ve lost/broken my cell phone before and had to go without for a couple of days, it happens — but it doesn’t happen for a long period of time. He offered no house phone number. I know, not everyone has one. But he offered no date or time frame in which he’d be getting his phone replaced. The last time I was “phone-less” I told everyone I’m getting my phone on [insert date].
3. When he called, it came up number WITHHELD.
4. When he called, he left no message, just called repeatedly.
Again, ‘Nuf said.
5. “Should I call or just come by.”
And again, ‘Nuf said.
I am seriously regretting giving this guy my number.
But since I don’t really want to go out with anyone anyway, is there anything this guy could have done?
YES!!!!!! If he actually lives “down the street” from me, there was no need for him to close the deal on the phone number right then and there. He could accidentally on purpose run into me later. Like later, when he has a phone. Like later, when he is not so sweaty, like later, when he hasn’t just asked me for work. The point is, it was not a classic Craigslist missed connections kind of thing. He knows where I live and reportedly, lives nearby. Moreover, he could have engaged me in conversation to see if we had anything in common, other than “I look good for five kids” (a pet peeve of mine, though I know it’s meant as a compliment) and “I look too good not to have a boyfriend.” As if not having a man to mulch for me was some sort of enigma he couldn’t comprehend. Again, I know it was meant as a compliment, but it’s all in the delivery. If he’d offered these “compliments,” wished me a nice day and walked away, only to see me another day, marveling how we keep running into each other, well, that would have been better. Still, even with the red flags, I was trying to have a conversation with this guy. I was trying to be open. And trust me, this is not the cabana boy – – romance novel- -six pack having- -strong muscular arms — looking man I could simply enjoy watching mulch in my yard. No sir, no ma’am.
Ugh . . . . . . I’m SO not feeling it now.
So, what to do if he calls? (To be continued, because . . . he did call again).
Just Me With . . . number WITHHELD and possibly on my way to Home Depot to buy some privacy plantings.
Waiting for Spring, still. It was a rough Winter, as far as precipitation, emotionally, vehicularly (I love making up words sometimes), it was overall kind of blue.
In my part of the world we got a lot of snow this year. Snow means different things to me now that I’m in a much smaller house with no driveway. Not so bad. There’s so much less snow removal, but it is all my responsibility. I can’t always count on my beautiful ( lousy, good-for-nothing children) to help me when it actually needs to be done.
One fine, sunny, cold and clear day after a snow storm, I was out shoveling my front walk. By myself. A truck drove by and with some equipment in the back and slowed down. Then it kept going. I thought, well, this is gonna be some guy asking to do my snow removal for pay. So I wasn’t really surprised when he circled the block, came back and pulled up in front of my house. But I’m not going to pay someone to do my little front walk, though this snow was really heavy. I just got ready to tell him, no, thanks, I got this. But you know? He was pretty cute. Nice eyes. Nice smile. Had a hat on, which can mask a lot, plus, he was sitting in a truck with a big jacket on so height and weight were not clearly apparent, but still . . . As it turned out he didn’t ask me to hire him to shovel my snow. He had pulled over . . . (on a busy street, mind you) . . . just to talk.
I’ve found that nothing screams SINGLE for a woman more than doing exterior work on your house (not gardening). Exterior painting? Clearly this woman has no man. And now . . . shoveling snow? This chick must be single. Still, I was not prepared to be hit on outside my house on a snowy day with a shovel in my hand. Actually I was not prepared to be outside in the snow — NO TISSUES. My nose was running like Kobe Bryant at a Gay Pride Parade (tee hee). But lone pioneer woman that I am, my sleeve and gloves were good enough for the task at hand. That is, until this good-looking guy was trying to talk to me. And I was a — sans makeup, nose running, ugly knit hat and hand-me-down snow pants wearing — hot mess.
He managed to find out from me that I am indeed single, own the home, not a drug user, not a church go-er and my true age (not something I generally share, not even with myself some days). The man has interrogation skills. Or, standing there in the cold, trying to control my snot as traffic was whizzing by, I just didn’t feel like being coy. I found out his age (men always tell you that and of course he’s younger than me), where he works and where he goes to church. I got a little sermon about having faith and that will see me through. Then he tried to get my number. This man kinda liked me. As he already knew where I lived, I didn’t feel like giving out any additional information (aren’t you supposed to get the guy’s number anyway?). So I got his number and name (it was a sexy, French name). He made me promise that I would think about calling. “We could have coffee or something,” he suggested. And he invited me to church.
I did think about calling him. I still do. I figure, I can only get better in his eyes — I wonder how much more smitten he’d be if he saw me without snot, breathing through my nose instead of mouth, and maybe with a little lipstick on and dressed up in maybe — say — shoes — instead of snowboots. But I didn’t call, still freaked out about being single. (Translation: chicken-sh*t) But I have the number, right here in my phone.
Just Me With . . . the digits of a snowman.
Maybe if he had shoveled that heavy snow for me . . . More importantly, maybe this Spring . . . as I resume my exterior painting . . . I’ll be ready . . . for . . . anything.