L and I often talked about the life I would lead without him. He was excited at the possibility of my re-inventing my life while I had serious reservations. Now as I enter year two of widowhood I find that re-invention is not only a possibility, it is in so many ways a necessity. Recently I have started to become even more overwhelmed by the loneliness and the sheer number of hours I spend by myself in a day and I have begun to seek ways I can change that. I have a tendency (and a heredity) toward depression so before that becomes an issue I am taking a good hard look at the realities of my life.
L and I were blessed with incredible friendships and a lot of them–those friendships are certainly there for me now that he is gone and I don’t doubt them for a second. But the fact is that in most cases those are couples and I am now not a couple. L used to admonish me that I was going to have to make a real effort–against my normal reclusive personality–to reach out to people. I feel I have done that–inviting people to dinner, calling on a weeknight to suggest a spontaneous run for burgers, letting people know that I’d love to see a certain film if they plan to go–and all of these efforts have been well received. They have not however–in most cases–been reciprocal. I regularly hear of friends getting together (as couples)for a movie or casual dinner. In the past they would have called to see if L and I were available but that’s simply not happening now. I have two ways (and probably more) to go with this: I can choose to be sad and hurt and feel sorry for myself; or I can understand that there is no negative intent–my friends still love me and if I asked if I could join them they would definitely say ‘yes.’
So it seems to me that the answer is to expand my group–something I had begun to do (and L had encouraged) even before he died. What I have realized recently however is that I am definitely going more places–I often work on my writing in coffeehouses surrounded by people and I regularly attend a summer music series on Sunday mornings and once I attended a bookstore’s open book club. But in none of those cases am I really connecting with people–they are there and I am there…period.
After L died I decided to give up my little writing studio once the lease ran out this summer. I still feel that was the right move. But today as I was writing at a local coffeehouse I thought that I had to find some place where I would be seeing some of the same people each time I went to that place and in time I might connect with these people on a deeper level. Down the street from the coffeehouse is an art co-op. These are painters and weavers and photographers sharing a large loft space. I went there and spoke with 3 members of the co-op and lo and behold they told me about a small available space (less than 1/3 the rent I was paying before and yes, less than 1/3 the size). On Saturday I am going to meet the co-op manager and see what we can work out. I feel good about this–it doesn’t completely resolve the issue of loneliness but I feel that it has the potential to be a place–a community–where I might find at least a hint of that sense of connection I am missing so much. Stay tuned…