ADVENTURES IN SINGLENESS


I’D LIKE TO RIDE A CLAIRVOYANT CIRCUIT INTO THE MINDS OF SINGLES OVER THE AGE OF SIXTY.

I’ve often questioned why advertisements; the media, and politicians do not address this segment of society. We don’t hear, the beginning of a statement whether it is legislative, political, social, or cultural, Singles around the country are not traveling, purchasing more products, refusing to get vaccinated are unemployed…etc.  We are a minority class; I found statistics on The UnmarriedAmerican.org website. More searching led me to the American Association for Single People website.

  • There are 106 million unmarried adults in the United States.  Singles constitute more than 44% of the adult population in the nation.
  • About 44% of the nation’s workforce are unmarried employees
  • The Census Bureau estimates that about 10% of adults will never marry.

I’m not going to make a huge leap into this as my thoughts are more about adventures in singleness.

This conversation is from a close friend, married for twenty-some years.

“You are so lucky you have no idea. If I were single, I’d move somewhere where life is simple, maybe Greece.”

“You don’t know about the loneliness, the awkwardness of holidays, the fear when you get sick and have no one to care for you, so many things really.

“I can think better when I’m alone.”

I told her I understood. That is the crucifix of making my pen my mate rather than a three-dimensional man( Temporary singleness). Some of my interactions go like this; going out to dinner, “Are you alone?” She or he leads you to the most obscure table. Then she or he removes the second table setting and suddenly aloneness is visible. An hour later another customer asks if they can use the spare chair. That’s when I ask for the check and leave.

Taking a road trip and feeling vulnerable when I’m pumping the gasoline and a stranger is gawking at me and I’m in the middle of nowhere.  It is usually truck drivers and I immediately think of Thelma and Louise.   More recently, I hired a new snow shoveling company operated by one single man.  On the third plow last winter he texted me, “One night with you and I won’t charge you for the rest of the season.”  A gal pal replied after relating this story,

“You should be flattered and he is twenty years younger! What does he charge?

“Seven hundred for the season.”

“That’s hilarious! Well, be careful and lock your doors, you’re all alone out there.”

I texted him that he should never make that kind of offer to a customer and I will not report you but you could lose your business or be sued. He agreed and I let him finish off the season as it was too late to find another one. I found a new company this year and he’s happily married.

Dressing for an event that I’ve never been to on my own. In my closet, I lay out three different outfits. Then I have a wary of decisions on which shoes, flats or heels. When I’m all dressed and ready to go self-consciousness billows up and I change the outfit. It’s a ridiculously amusing routine.

Living in a house that is a hundred and thirty-five years old speaks to me at night; a loose windowpane thrashes, a branch from a tree falls on one of the rain gutters, the mechanicals in the basement thump for some reason and I tiptoe around the house searching for an intruder.

Taking myself out for a cocktail just to get out of the house has numerous consequences. I end up sitting next to couples who are having a roaring twenties time of it and the only single man at the bar is fixated on his phone. Instead, the woman next to me strikes up a conversation about her boyfriend.

The other side of these dismal forecasts is; I have no arguments at home, (just interior dialogue) I can eat whenever I choose, watch what I elect on television, keep the bedroom light on, adjust the thermostat to my body temperature, and make all the decisions myself, the most infuriating and worthwhile to building courage, and self-reliance.

One of the lines in the Godfather struck me as an authentic gangster testimonial, “Women and children can afford to be careless, we cannot.”   As a teenager one of the repetitive reminders my father said angrily was, “Watch what you’re doing!”  This was the most relevant and truthful observation he made of me. Admittedly I am easily distracted and careless and ignore risk.  Just yesterday I placed a skillet of homemade croutons in the oven and then decided to empty the trash. As it happened my neighbor, Lorraine was in her driveway so I said hello.  The Adirondack Tree Surgeon had recently stopped by her house, as they did mine and marked one of my sidewalk trees for removal.

“Are they going to cut your tree down too?” I asked.

“The city is responsible for the sidewalk trees, but they cannot remove one on your property. They just came by to trim the branches since mine is on my property.” I was absent for ten minutes. When I entered the kitchen, it was smoked out and a small fire was burning in the skillet.

Without someone to look after my carelessness (I’ve been on my own now for five years) I still catch myself in these adventitious circumstances.

Winter Dressing indoors!

PUZZLE OF SOLITUDE FOUR


 

I wrote this short piece by hand in April.

It is snowing today; the first time since February. A collage of scenery rearranges the birth of spring as a brisk snow flurry sweeps through Santa Fe.  Across the street, inside the hotel families are dining, or comparing observations with other guests, drinking apple cider and being in vacation. I see them unload suitcases, and several tote bags, a lot of luggage seems necessary for tourists these days. Teenagers are multi-texting; unaware of the flawless blue sky or architecture. I am looking for artists who’ve come to capture the light, or heal  city bruises with the language of the Indian world. The coterie of artists drawn to Santa Fe are now a minority; and on the horizon are  tour buses, family reunions, and corporate retreats.

I am standing in the center of the garden, studying the entanglement of spindly branches, clinging to the brick wall. The wall looks like an abstraction of a Kandinsky painting.My sense is that I should not pester myself about unfinished desk business-but to just turn off the motor and observe my fortune. To watch clouds so deeply, and see the shapes turn from a penis to a whale, (analyze that) has always been an act of love. Some people stare at rocks, or flowers, or rain; for me it is the clouds.
The sky has just been ticked off by the sun and she is spreading like butter over my face and legs.

Costume design and realization for ‘Seeing’ by Kandinsky. A contemporary dance interpretation.


Hanging on to home for a lot of us has become a business; a renting out rooms, and converting to a vacation rental to avoid foreclosure. I can sit inside the Movie Theater (a converted garage) and launch into a montage of memories. The Michael Jackson tribute party after he died, when friends came and we danced to his videos; and the Jimi Hendrix live DVD night that mixed jubilation, remembrance, and a lot of laughing as I expelling all I knew about Jimi to a man of twenty-seven. We always showed a film coinciding with a new exhibition of photography. Guests lingered past midnight and I had to turn off the lights to demonstrate closure. Couples in the theater necking, young adults roaring with inflammable laughter upon each opportunity, and hungry men and women waltzing around each other for a bite of passion. Gallery receptions were packed back then; a staggering amount of partying and dancing collided on Canyon Road to live music and open bars.
Hanging on to memories in corners of the house. I’ll take them with me. It will be a leap of courage to untangle myself from this home.wassily kandinsky art artist
I can almost hear the birds wind as they fly over me; my eyes close to listen. The lullaby is a bath of nature and would not have occurred unless I was alone. I want to reach through writing,  to the subject of misfits and loners, outcasts and unrecognized that are too ripe to touch, to sensitive and unyielding; annoyed with the outside world. Like me.

Contemporary PaintingKandinsky-my tree

 

 

 

THE PUZZLE OF SOLITUDE Part One


Adventures in Livingness

The people who pass my window aren’t snapped into wool and leather collars any longer. Now their heads raise to the sun; but their movement is sluggishly unfamiliar with spring steps. Soon they’ll be jogging and eying the world through sunglasses instead of face-warmers. Street scenery is similar to my garden; fresh green stems courageously pop up while the rose bushes remain embryos.  20140410_183024[1]
Today I read for two hours; the longest stretch since last year. I had to stay in bed with a tray of coffee and closed curtains. I was restored to the first readings of Anais, when people still talked about her being a lesbian; when in fact she was not expressing that kind of love at all. Only the love as deep as two women want to go. Belonging to her group of artists and bohemian so appealed to me then as a teenager-I manifested that camaraderie by finding love in artists and misfits, malcontents, with rare wisdom and foresight. Men that chose not to belong because they had their own opinions.
The farolitos reflect diamonds of light when the sun is out. I can look out the window by my desk all day to catch surprises. The exchanges with staff at the hotel in a hand swipe and face to face muses on hotel complaints. A man in khaki’s and hiking boots taking studied photos of my house, and the same woman, who talks incessant baby talk to her dog as he pranced ahead.
My emotional tail is wagging; curled up in my desk chair I feel almost as if I was born in this chair. It’s cushioned me through a cyclone of adventures in livingness.
This piece of writing was handwritten on a tablet back in late January. I’ve made some minor additions and deletions. The editor I use before submitting to a publisher asked me, “Why do you keep switching between past and present tense?” I told her I don’t control that until I’m in final editing. My control over my writing is identical to my control over how I live. Acting on impulse, expanding the mundane into a musical, feasting on all the emotions, and fabricating thorny Walter Mitty encounters. I don’t even think of applying proven methods; I make up new ones.
Back to this plateau of solitude. Love what you have and especially yourself; with all your flaws. Integrity is more critical; be proud  not just for yourself, but because someone out there needs you.

PUZZLE OF SOLITUDE PART TWO


DSC01598THE PUZZLE OF SOLITUDE will always be a puzzle because our lives, solo or mated, are puzzled by too much solitude, or not enough.

December and January. I fought what seemed endless solitude with my Irish Russian temper; bashing and short-tempered with customer service, world news, and mindless tasks. Then in February, it seemed that the fire dulled, and consciousness triumphed. It was a long wait; sometimes I have convinced my basement of survival would sink. It did not. There was an adventure that I did not know was happening until now, three months later.
I learned how to make friends with myself, and find the frolic and follies in the world that I created. I had to laugh alone and so I watched screwball comedies and recognized the humor of my irregularities; wearing a sweater inside out, pouring coffee into a wine glass for a cocktail, and chuckling up and down the staircase, because I kept forgetting where I left my phone. My head was elsewhere-daydreaming.
I learned how to repair house calamities; screw and unscrew doors and windows, seal up cracks, and paint. I rejuvenated every wood board, handle, chair, and table with Old English Oil. As one pal commented on a visit to the house, ‘ It’s a perfect day for Old English! ‘I needed to see a transformation, and at the time, my direction was to convert this house into the museum of cool. Then I would get a swell of vacation rental bookings from Trip advisor, VRBO, and Homeaway, and drive west, north, and south; lifting up the curtain on a new and more exhilarating act.
A surprise from the weather channel, we were basking in the sunlight in March. The winter was milder than I had ever experienced here; and how could I complain when half of the USA was sliding, sinking, or snowbound without a way out. The ease of adaptation was preserved by the horrific scenes in the Midwest and East. In the kitchen; my heart simmered while stirring my weekly slumguillion gumbo, stew, and casseroles, chopping away while listening to Tony Bennett, Nat King Cole, and Frank Sinatra.
Winter has in the past been a funnel that leads to writing. Not this winter; my last column was in November. The activity of pushing forward became important, and the results were compelling. If I was not able to write it was because the material was not dry. TOO