Single or Dead: Five to One, Baby, One in Five

I made my annual camping trip to visit my aging parents this past weekend. The stress leading up to it was far worse than the actual event. I am always worried about seeing irrefutable evidence that my parents are getting crazier. They take such pride in their independence that when they can no longer work together to survive out in the middle of nowhere, what will happen?

I don’t see their lives the way they do and instead see them as codependent. On my more jaded days, they appear dysfunctional and delusional.

Maybe that’s because I’ve had my life torn apart. Believe me I know what’s coming for them! For y’all!

Everyone ends up single or dead. No exceptions.

I want to save everyone from the shock of what’s coming for them. Warn them about the pain and sorrow that accompany the inevitable. I want to sound the alarm that their house will become disorganized and chaotic and that they’ll lose their sense of self when their partner is gone and they end up alone.

The dead are the lucky ones.

The rest of us will be left standing amidst the detritus of the life we once had, bewildered and in shock. People will yell for us to “let go!” “let go!” and scorn us for trying to keep anything at all from our previous lives. As if we could simply be free by casting everything onto the dead pile at Value Village. It will all become a memory or be miraculously forgotten. Or maybe we’ll take to hiding old photographs under panties in drawers we hope no one will ever snoop through. Our own dark secret of shame. Porn has nothing on the pining.

Because we are expected to Move On. Start Over. Be Reborn like a butterfly. Live our Best Lives. Live, Love, Laugh.

What a load of shit. I hate Facebook. THIS is my life, assholes! There is nothing “best” about it and I’m not fucking laughing, ok? (Is Ricky Gervais Right? No One Cares – Fuck Off!)

Maybe I could use a bit more fun in my life, sure.

I think everything got so serious when the persecution started. Pretending to move on was going pretty well, I thought…until it wasn’t working at all. My relationship, three years on, grew frustrating and untenable. The unfairness of losing a job that kept me in food and shelter because I wouldn’t allow my employer access to my body still causes a bitter taste in my mouth, when I reflect on it.

Then people in my life started dying.

There was only one person I texted with nearly every day and while I knew he was sick with cancer, he didn’t tell me how sick he really was. We had become friends over the years, sharing the small events and silly things we’d done or said mostly via text. We hadn’t seen each other for over a year and even then only for a brief coffee in the parking lot of Starbucks. I don’t remember hugging him when we parted. Covid was such a fear thing then and I knew he was vulnerable. I was a dirty and unclean unvaxxed person. God, I wish I had hugged him anyway. Squeezed him ever so tightly and told him how much he meant to me.

One day he stopped texting me back. Days go by and then I got the text I dreaded, “I’m sorry to tell you that Gene died last night.”

Losses pile up. My beloved Uncle dies. A week later another text and phone call: a former co-worker, younger than I am, dies under mysterious and tragic circumstances.

I pack hurriedly to go and visit my parents, worried one of them might be next. Or maybe it will be me.

Take heed! Take heed! The end is nigh!

This will be you in a few short years: alone and lonely with all your family and friends abandoning you, one way or another. Sometimes fast, sometimes slow. Inevitability.

I realize that I am no longer angry at the world for casting me out and leaving me alone. Sorrow may be my constant companion but I don’t feel so sad about it anymore. Silence is my preferred friend but the odd time I find myself cranking the tunes again.

I don’t go out and see friends but it’s because I don’t want to.

What for? I can’t remember the point of having friends anymore. My expectations of any relationship are just too high. I am more comfortable helping others than asking for help myself. This makes a one-sided relationship almost a guarantee. Most people were not there for me during the worst of the past two years. Only my son and one friend who had an open enough mind to listen to my hysterical ranting stuck around. Thank God for them both. Now friends come back and text as if nothing at all happened but I find I am ambivalent about seeing them and actually don’t want to waste my time. My life has been sharpened. What’s important? What is getting dumped off at VV?

Of course, I did not tell anyone how bad it really was so I can hardly expect understanding. Well, I tried to tell my partner but it was just too much for him. I get it – I am an emotional train that gets rolling and then starts barreling down a track without the slightest deviation. Finding yourself tied to the tracks in the path of that speeding train must be somewhat uncomfortable, especially if you are a rather passive sort. Superman was outta town.

I am…bemused by my own life.

Here is your cautionary tale, served up with a side of homegrown bitter greens on a cracked second-hand plate. Bon appétit!

(Dang! That’s tasty!)

Other than all the abandonment and death, things are going pretty well. The garden is producing and the kale is plentiful. The cats are flourishing eating cheap cat food, having turned their noses up at the expensive stuff. Work is kind of fun and mostly silly. I cannot take any of it seriously and laugh at many of the rules. What, you actually care about what we wear? Ridiculous! We all got a raise but of course the cost of living has gone up much more so the economy has thrown down the gauntlet of a survival challenge now.

Down Payment Blues

I’ve lived through many downturns before and graduated into a terrible recession so I am better off than most and for this, I am grateful. (Does Big Hair Make You Resilient?)

Because of my experiences, I own second-hand furniture, an older car outright, have no credit card debt, and bought a house with as much down as I could muster. I’ll be glad for that when my mortgage comes up for renewal and my payments double due to sky-high interest rates. I’ve squirrelled away food and pared down any expectations for vacations or new anythings. Right now I am focused on building up an emergency fund and setting aside money for next year’s insurance and taxes. I’ve made my own toilet paper and dishwasher soap and am starting on Christmas gifts. Hooha! (More ideas: How to Make Your Money Go Further.)

Dreams of Hope and Other Nonsense

Sometimes I think imagination is the greatest gift I have. With it, absolutely anything is possible and I can “see” a great future for us all, where the earth is whole and beautiful with solid ice at the poles and plentiful water. I can pretend that Bon Scott didn’t drown in his own vomit but overcame his alcohol addiction and continued to add his playful bluesyness to AC/DC and encourage Malcolm to do likewise.

In my mind I’ve got a handy partner who isn’t afraid of my opinions and who shares his thoughts and opinions with me. Someone I love who loves me back – just the way I am. Maybe he even owns a recreational vehicle and likes to take the odd trip to the Middle of Nowhere.

I’ll tell you one thing: next year camping at Mom and Dad’s is going to be a lot more fun AND more comfortable.


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