Sometimes it strikes with all the subtlety of a brick wall, this hundred-pound ball of lead that takes up residence in the center of my chest, pressing down on me until I can scarcely breathe under its weight. A physical manifestation of my emotional state, it seems only fitting that it should resemble the beginning stages of a cardiac event, leaving me dizzy and breathless and aching. After all, isn’t it my heart that’s dying off one tiny piece at a time?
Other times, it begins as a ghostly touch – phantom lips pressed oh so briefly to the base of my neck, the spectral glide of gentle fingers fleetingly tracing the span of my waist. Each contact is more elusive than a whisper into the wind, yet no less devastating to my peace of mind than a scream that shatters the stillness of the night. My skin grows taut as the need arises throughout every inch of my flesh – a fierce longing that can only be assuaged by hands not my own. We are taught from a young age that certain things are necessary to facilitate human life: water, oxygen, nourishment. I’m fast learning that corporeal affection is another.
But no matter what form of representation my loneliness chooses for itself, its inception is nearly always the same. Some small, seemingly innocuous event will serve as the unwitting catalyst for the dark despair that suddenly blurs my vision and clogs my throat with unshed tears as I am once again reminded that I am truly alone. There is no consistency to the vehicle, making impossible the attempt to steer clear of its path. An old married couple walking hand-in-hand, a song on the radio, there is no rhyme or reason that can predict which tiny slice of everyday life will be the next to knock down whatever little bit of sanguinity I’ve been able to rebuild since the last. Today, it was a rainbow.
Two of them, actually.
As far as summer days go, this one had thus far done nothing to lend itself any sort of individuality – the same sun meandered slowly towards the same horizon as the sky continued to vacillate between clear and cloud. It was, in effect, a mirror image of many of my days of late, the air hot and thick and gray, a perfect foil for my own overcast mood as I drove from one inconsequential place to another. Somehow though, in those last few lingering moments as afternoon gave way to evening, the elements came together in a last-ditch effort to slough off the mundane in favor of the mystical.
While rainbows are inherently beautiful by nature, I must say, the picture presented to me then was nothing short of singular in its splendor. The primary arc stretched gracefully across the horizon, its vibrant hues in vivid contrast with the steel background of the clouds, the combination serving to produce the brightest, most colorful display I’ve ever had the opportunity to witness outside of a digitally enhanced photograph. I found myself pulling the car to the side of the road in order to better concentrate my attention on the unexpected scene.
It was then that I noticed the other. Peering over the shoulder of the first like a curious, younger sibling was a second rainbow, not quite as brilliant or substantial, but still colorful enough to do Roy G. Biv proud. I gazed at the vision in awe, a smile curving my lips for the first time in days, and turned without conscious thought to the vacant seat beside me.
“Isn’t it lovely…” The grin slid slowly from my face as the realization struck home that I had no one with whom to share this exquisite sight. No one to regale me with tales of leprechauns and pots of gold. No one to hear my denials of such frivolities as I rationally endeavor to explain how the refraction of the sun through the distant raindrops, and not little green men, is what creates the dazzling exhibit before us. No one to smile indulgently as I lecture on the fact that this presentation would not even be possible were the elements not combined in such a way that there was precisely a 42 degree angle between the sun at our backs, the rain ahead, and our eyes. No one to fondly let me know that “nobody likes a math geek”. No one to implore me to put aside what I know to be true in order to explore the more extreme possibilities.
And as I sat in my car, the tears tracing their now-familiar path down my cheeks, I strove to do just that. I closed my eyes and opened my heart, placing my faith in what some legends claim to be a bridge between the Earth and the Gods, praying that somehow, someway, one of them may heed my yearning.
I wrote that a few summers ago after seeing the most gorgeous twin rainbows as I drove home from work one August afternoon. At the time, I had a particular character in mind when I wrote, though I suppose on some level I could identify with the feelings. I still can.
I separated from my husband in 1997, and the divorce was final in 2000. Today is the 10th Valentine’s Day in a row that I have spent as a single gal (I can’t believe I just used the word ‘gal’…every time I hear that word, I think of Adam Corolla for some reason…). In that time, there have been only 2 Valentine’s Days where I was dating someone. On the first, 3 years ago, he invited me to dinner after work. When I arrived, I was told that I should have called when I left work, because he needed to ‘run out’. I stayed at his house and watched his two children while he went out to buy me the flowers that he couldn’t have been bothered all day long to go out and get. We only lasted another 3 or 4 months after that.
The second time in the last ten years that I have had a ‘significant other’ on Valentine’s Day, was 2 years ago. We had been dating for about six months, and while the ‘L’ word wasn’t being used on a regular basis, it had been tossed out there a time or two – mainly by him. He happened to be sick on Valentine’s Day proper, but drove to my house the next day – still sick – so that he could give me the roses he’d bought before they wilted. Three days later, he came over for what I thought was a movie date, told me he was going back to the wife he’d been divorced from for three years, and left. Happy Valentine’s Day.
The reason I bring all of this up isn’t to get sympathy (ok, maybe a little! Send flowers and cash! lol), but rather to point out that it ain’t easy being single during this time of year. Every commercial on tv seems to show some gorgeous couple kissing over an equally gorgeous piece of jewelry that he just picked up for her in honor of the occasion (he went to Jarrod – that bastard!). The stores are full of cards and candy and red fuzzy lingerie, and every syndicated sitcom on the air seemed to be running it’s Valentine’s episode today. There’s no hiding from it, no matter how much you might want to.
And what did I do today? Well, we did get a snow day, which was nice…until the sadistic bastards plowing our parking lot decided that it would be great fun to pick one car to block in with a 3 1/2 foot wall of snow and ice. After I spent half an hour digging out my car this afternoon, I made dinner, called my sister to wish her a happy birthday (pretty much the ONLY good thing about February 14th), and put together a chair. Woohoo!
When I separated all those years ago, I can remember thinking that I would take a little time to get my act together, and then when the time was right, I would meet Mr. Right. I’d gotten the Starter Husband out of the way, so finding the one that I was *really* meant to be with would be easy. I can distinctly remember being in Columbia Mall shortly after I’d moved to the area (sometime in 1999, I think), seeing several attractive men walk by in a relatively short period of time, and thinking, “I’m going to meet someone soon.” Little did I know that over the next 8 years I would have 3 brief relationships (the longest lasted 8 months), and a bunch of (usually really bad) first dates. I’m still waiting for Mr. Right to show up. He’s running seriously late, and it’s starting to piss me off.
A few days ago, someone said to me that I “have to believe it will happen before there will be room for it to happen.” Now, I know that person was only trying to help, but at the time that statement really upset me. It felt like she was saying that I hadn’t met that special someone yet in all this time solely because I didn’t believe I ever would. As if the means to Mr. Right were right there all the time, if only I had thought to click my heels together three times and chant, “There’s no man like him. There’s no man like him. There’s no man like him,” and there he’d be. I know she didn’t mean it that way, but in that moment I felt like her statement just trivialized the last 10 years that I have spent wanting nothing more than to have someone special in my life. And besides, if I didn’t really believe it could happen, why on earth would I waste my time on all those lousy first dates (especially that short guy with all the back hair)??!!??
I’m not sure what the moral of this story is, other than Valentine’s Day sucks. Lucky for me, it’s almost over for another year!
Happy Valentine’s Day, all you damned happy people!!!