Sunday, February 5, 2012

Still Hopeful

Last fall, I wrote about my new life, and how big life decisions influenced my state of mind, how I was taking up residence in Hopeful, Unincorporated.

Divorced life- divorced without the drama of infidelity or the tragedy of abuse, divorced only perhaps because of the realization that each was not whom we thought the other to be- is a state that I have found to be both profoundly satisfying (as I am now incredibly sure of who I am and what I want) and a good boost for my self-esteem.  Take, for instance the following text exchange with my friend Mrs. Hansen:

Mrs. Hansen: Question posed to Hansen children: Can you think of anyone to date Miss Rachel? Response from N: No and even if I could, she'd be way out of his league. J: She's too awesome to date anyone I know.

Me: And THAT is why they are my favorite kids. Those answers deserve pierogi.

Mrs. Hansen: N also added, "She can't date just anyone. We have to know he's a good guy that will treat her right." Smartest 11-year-old I know.

Big smile, warm fuzziness, and a contented feeling that I must be doing something right to get that sort of response from the children of my friends.

And yet.

I have spent almost every night the past year sleeping with a flannel pillow filled with feed corn; once zapped in the microwave for about four minutes, this pillow acts as a source of radiant heat for hours; the immediate hot heat fades through the night, replaced by the heat from my body. The weight of the thing- maybe five pounds- coupled with the slow, steady warmth lulls me to sleep, and acts as a sort of security mechanism for me.  The weight is also about the same as that of a partner's arm resting on your hip, or thigh, or between your shoulder blades while you both half-sleep, twisted in among blankets and bed clothes.

I write about this because divorced life- the other part, the part where your free time is filled with everything your ex never wanted to do, never could understand, never could grasp the importance of the things they rejected- is also incredibly lonely.

I have tried to ignore this part, hoping that it would go away, fade like the intense heat from my corn-filled pillow and somehow be magically replaced with a more mellow version of itself.

And yet.

I look at my family, my friends, people at the grocery store, the gas station, the mall. I contemplate the possibilities for a partner in this small community, in the realm of online dating services, or in a bar, or the grocery store, the gas station, the mall. I am at a bit of a loss as to how the juxtaposition of the happiness for my new freedom and the loneliness of my new freedom can coexist in my daily life without causing external conflicts beyond a knot of hardened steel between my shoulder blades.

"Loneliness adds beauty to life. It puts a special burn on sunsets and makes night air smell better," said Henry Rollins. He's got a point: loneliness certainly makes one aware of everything else around you, intensifies every part of your days. I understand the need for contemplation, meditation, solitude, quietness.  It's just that I think having someone to share those moments with- even if only in conversation after the fact- is what magnifies and intensifies those experiences.

My friends are trying to come up with possible dates, going so far as to help me compose "personal statements" for online sites. They toss names into our conversations, hoping that something will spark my interest, raise my eyebrows, make me say tell me more.

And yet. And yet. And yet, I remain unconvinced that My Best New Boyfriend will be the result of any of this requested meddling. I still want to believe that he'll just show up, I'll blink and look again, and say "Oh! It's you." That he'll have been here all along, waiting for me to turn around. That I'll wake up one morning and the flannel pillow will really be his arm. That the burning sunset will be something we can share.

Taking a cue from the quote above, I will try to remain in a place where possibilities are more prominent in my thoughts than not, and I will try to remain open to new experiences; I will remain ready for unexpected suggestions, and I will remain content with being alone (if only for a while longer) here in Hopeful, Unincorporated.