Sunday, March 21, 2010
Perhaps the most pervasive fear that human beings have is loneliness. The most severe punishment in prison is to put a prisoner in solitary confinement. Yet there are those in life who are not in prison who live in circumstances that are just about as lonely as solitary confinement.
Lately I’ve been giving this more thought because a couple of my friends have died. My circle of friends is shrinking. My Mother and a good friend are still alive but they are sinking into the fog of dementia. Their bodies may still be here but their minds are gone. I can no longer talk to them. They are no longer the friends I had. Each day they drift farther and farther away from me.
I do not fear death but I do fear loneliness. I had expressed in an earlier blog posting that perhaps I missed having children. However, upon reflection I realize that I probably wasn’t temperamentally suited to having children. Maybe that was God’s plan for me because He knows what I’m like. I am really way too self involved with myself.
Every Saturday night I watch a Netflix rented movie in the comfort of my bedroom (my personal movie theater.) Last night I watched “Asylum.” It is about a psychiatrist's wife (Natasha Richardson) encounters an inmate (Marton Csokas) at a maximum-security asylum and finds herself curiously drawn to him. This movie was about loneliness. The psychiatrist’s wife is lonely. Even though she is married and has a young son, she was lonely. Almost everyone in the movie, including the character Ian McClellen played, was desperately lonely. This movie was well acted but very sad. This is a movie that lingers in your head long after you’ve seen it.
Earlier this week I checked in an elderly couple at the hotel. The lady told me that she had married her high school sweetheart…..many years after they were married to someone else. She told me the story of how they dated in high school but became separated during World War II. Both of them married other people and had families. Both of them eventually lost their spouses. Through a class reunion they met up again fourteen years ago and began dating again. They were in the hotel celebrating their thirteenth wedding anniversary. This is a wonderful story. This couple won’t have to spend their autumn years alone. They conquered their lonely problem although I did not they requested the room with two queen beds. Obviously their relationship was more about other issues than sex.
I’ve been very fortunate in my life. I met my Prince Charming when I was twenty two years old. I wasn’t looking for a Prince Charming or anyone to settle down with. I came out late (at 21 years old, still a virgin) and was ready to sow plenty of wild oats. Prince Charming (aka “Bill”) said he understood that I was a young guy and “had to get it out of my system.” Up to I was thirty seven years old I had a pretty active social life. However, on one Saturday night standing in a bar in Philadelphia at closing time when they flicked the lights on and off, indicating Last Call, I decided that I had had enough of the social life. The time had come for me to settle down. The charm of Nightlife in the Big City had faded (thank goodness.)
The years since have been one of mostly tranquil domesticity. Of course there have been some “speed bumps” in those forty six years together but we’re still together.
In our forty six years we have raised five Pomeranian dogs, lived at five different homes in three different states, and now are settling in for the Final Act of our life. The odds are that I will be the one left alone (Bill is 81 years old.)
As I see my friends die and drop out around me it becomes more apparent to me everyday I may be faced with living my remaining years alone. I’m way past my bar hopping days when I was out to meet that certain someone to spend the rest of my life with. That just isn’t going to happen. For one thing I’m just too old. I would probably fall asleep on my feet as the big hand on the clock neared midnight. I’ve had my experiences with guys I met in the bar (with sometimes near disastrous results) and I have no intention of going down that road again. And I’m certainly not going to be a Sugar Daddy to anyone. I’m not that rich and if I was, that isn’t my style. Been there done that. It doesn’t work, believe me. All one is asking for there are lies, betrayal and heartache. As I said, Been There, Done That.
I wonder what some of my single friends handle their loneliness or even if they consider themselves lonely. They’ve been single their whole lives and seem to be doing well. Perhaps I will go back into that mode. For a short time before I met Bill, I lived by myself. From the time I got out of the Army in January of 1963 to July of 1964 I lived alone. For the most of the time I was alright but there were times that loneliness caught up with me. At times I felt like I was going crazy. I would be in my one room efficiency apartment in Coatesville, PA and think “Is this all there is?” I knew there had to be more to life. Then I met Bill and my life took on a real purpose. Our life together has been one of sharing, supporting, loving and living life as two compatible like minded souls. I’ve always considered myself one of the Lucky Few to have met someone like Bill. Some people go through their whole life and never meet that special person. I’m not one of those people because I did meet my special person.
I’ve often joked with Bill that I’ll “check out” before he does. Then I wouldn’t have to face the problem of loneliness. But then one never knows what surprises life has in store for me. I just hope I don’t end up like those characters in that movie last night.