Monday, July 25, 2016

One Hundred Degrees of Solitude

               One Hundred Degrees of Solitude
            “So, Sondra, why aren’t you married?” Bonnie questions my back. There I am, lying unclothed on a bed, needles poking all over me, getting an acupuncture treatment for sciatica and related pains.

            How can I answer? Her question triggers feelings of discomfort, squirminess. But I don’t dare squirm with needles poking out all over. Okay, yes, the squirmy came from inside, not outside. Still.

            I’m asked this question a lot. Almost everyone I meet has asked me why I’m alone. Alone is not the norm. The rule is two by two, right? Two birds, two bees, two elephants, two iguanas. Adam and Eve.

            Now and then,  like when sitting on a bench at the Plaza Friday night, watching the couples stroll, holding hands, young couples, old couples, two by two, I ask myself that question, “Why am I alone?”

            “It’s not my choice,” I answer. Yet, it must be my choice. I am alone.

            I like marriage, sharing joys and sorrows, sharing. Life is not cakes and roses, at least not in my experience. Going it alone is exponentially more difficult than pulling as a yoked team.

            I’ve been alone many years. I’ve not met a man I want to team up with, at least not after I’ve gotten to know him. Maybe that street has two lanes. I’m awfully independent. I have opinions. Makes a lot of men of my vintage very uncomfortable. So, let’s say no two of us have met who want to pull as a team.

            But maybe, that is begging the question. I wonder if the question behind the question, is, “How can you do the things you do, live in a foreign country, travel, do everything by yourself?” Generally followed by, “Aren’t you afraid?” Ah ha—the real question!

            Now that one I can answer. Let me illustrate my situation.

            The rainy season started last week. It was like Somebody drew a line on the calendar. Up to Monday, every day beamed unremitting heat and sunshine, dry, dry, dry as dust. Then Monday night the Mother of all Storms hit, drenching us with refreshing rain.

            Every night the sky opens up, washes and rinses and squeezes until the clouds are wrung dry. Most nights flashes and booms accompany the downpours.

            Last night the Grandmother of all Storms visited, gifting us with an explosion of thunder that quaked the bed beneath my back. I lay, holding my breath, eyes wide open, heart pounding, skin tingling. Fear!

            Lightning and thunder, these mountain storms, don’t scare me. But at the same time, some moments are scary, if you can see the difference.

            That’s what being alone is like for me. I’d rather have a partner holding my hand when life lights up the sky and quakes the earth. But I don’t. I’m not afraid. But sometimes it is scary. If I let fear rule my life, I’d never do anything. What? Sit and knit?

            Bonnie, if you really are simply curious why I don’t have a man, I could say, “I grew up old-school. Men seem to not lack for partners and in today’s culture it is okay for a grizzled old man to sport a teenage girl on his arm. I’m realistic. Nobody, young or old, is knocking on my door, floral bouquet and diamond ring in hand.  Maybe I want too much but I can’t imagine this seventy year old woman going through life with a partner who does not, cannot share similar life experiences. Now that would be scary!”

Sondra Ashton
HDN: Looking out my back door

June 23, 2016

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