I've been finding myself in couple-y situations lately. Situations where just about everyone there is part of a couple, and I am not. Switches switch, old feelings line up with more recent ones, and if I stop talking for just a minute, the self-pity thing kicks in, and kicks in hard. I feel like I did at high school dances, where you worked at not acting like a wallflower, even if that's who you were.
My perspective has shifted since then. I am now old enough to act like exactly who I am. I don't have to try on other roles. If you don't like women who are perversely intellectual or a little too bright and funny--well, you won't like me, and I may not even notice. But I've been married and I remember what it is like to talk in the car on the way home from a social event, or to slide into bed at the end of the day and not huddle there alone.
I miss the comfort. I am conscious now of the awkwardness of being the one who screws up the seating at tables set for eight or ten. I am too aware of being a widow when I talk to other women's husbands, self-conscious about being--not single exactly, but singular.
Everywhere you look the world works two-by-two. At least my world does, where people my age are sensible parents in stable marriages, living in brick houses with fixed-rate mortgages. They're like oxygen molecules; they travel in O2 pairs. They dread surprises, because these come mostly from teenage children and are seldom good.
Even the single people I know are paired up with close friends or somehow belong to groups of folks who look out for each other. People need people--someone to listen, or pretend to, as you prattle on at the end of the day.
Yes, I'm definitely feeling sorry for myself. I'm also feeling a little hypocritical. Back when my husband was alive, I went lots of places on my own. More often than not, he refused to be dragged along. And I have chattered away plenty of time today in the presence of friends, or on the telephone. I'm not alone in the world.
But I am an odd piece of the puzzle. The "plus 1" who turns even numbers to odd.