The lady in the park with gray hair and an old dog suggested I was lonely. We were talking and walking and not thinking, being that we were strangers making conversation, enjoying the first warm day in Providence since October, 2008. The lady in the park was easy in her gait, baggy of clothes, calm in voice, steady and strong in a resolve, a mysterious resolve, something relating to her age which turned out to be ten years older than mine. We were older woman together, at dusk, in a dog park. Without secrets, we struck up a conversation that turned easily to the personal. She was a retired mental health professional. She was strikingly beautiful, and we talked about beauty, the loss of youth, the loss of the beauty card. “Being beautiful was like having a credit card with a billion dollar limit.” I said. “I didn’t spend wisely, but whatever I wanted, I just threw down the beauty card and voila, there it was.”
“I got two husbands out of it, but it didn’t pay the bills. I was always falling for the tortured artist types” she said.
“We could be sitting pretty in Greenwich, Connecticut right now” I told her. “Divorced, maybe, but with a settlement that guaranteed at the very least a classy rest home.”
“We might have killed him. You know, the banker, and be in a prison without parole instead of a dog park.”
I have a friend whose mother was beautiful. Through the years she’s said, ” My mother was beautiful and she said it was hell.” I must remember to tell my friend that, yes, it may be hell, but it isn’t as bad as not being beautiful.”
Ah, the slimy, sloppy envy of my less beautiful friends. Even now, as I age and sag, they still give me a hard time. I must remember to dump those bitches one of these days. They come to no good. They’ll get you in the end.
Anyway. The woman in the park with the old dog suggested I was lonely and I could not comprehend the fact. I have so many friends, so much love and support in my life. I am blessed beyond measure, and yet I had to agree with her. “Shit” you’re right. “I’m lonely. Deadly lonely. I’ve found contentment with my own company but the truth is, if I never saw any of my friends again, I would not miss them”
How can this be possible???? Am I a socio-path?
Every three or four months I call the cell phone company and change my phone number, determined to disappear and not be bothered again by people who make me sick-or worse, bore me to death. Inevitably, I call them and my new number appears on their cell phone and I’m once again at risk. Recently I told everyone I know that I had moved to New York City. I have remained in Providence, but my phone rings less often, being that nobody thinks I’m in Providence. My friends in New York still think I live in Providence. Where do I live? It seems I live in my own little J.D. Salinger world, struggling to survive the idiots that circle me like vultures, wherever I relocate.
It is shocking to me, having been beautiful, that I am also brilliant. This brilliance separates me from the mass of dullards who infringe on my freedom with their mundane passions and, worse, their humanitarian faux pas. Their determination to live comfortably by denying reality. Their insistence on being lead cheerleaders for extra-small teams. Teams that have underlying rules demanding soul surrender for the sake of the herd.
There are a few exceptions. Some intelligent signs in my universe. Susan, Judith and Barnaby and Irene. Elliot. Mike and Elaine, Genia. Anne. Matt. – and now, the lady in the park with the gray hair… who has suggested that I am lonely and now my loneliness has been revealed to me, and wearing my mother’s perfume, in order to be near her, has been diluted.
I am lonely because I have not understood myself. And that will change.