Sunday, September 4, 2011
The girl at the coffee shop hands me my espresso and I wander over to the table by the window and sit down. Alone. Again. It's the raw hour of 9:00 AM. There are Couples, families with kids, pairs of women gossiping. I set my purse on the seat across from me. It looks kind of like another human being if I squint. And remove my contacts. And have two margaritas, a whiskey sour, PBR, and a benadryl.
Surely, at some point, someone liked to hang out with me? Other than my husband, who averred that he would hang out with me forever in front of God? My coworkers and I talk desultorily about their children. My students hand me money at the end of our conversations. The old women at church like to talk about old women at church stuff, and while it's true that I am eighty years old in my heart, I can't contribute much to discussions of sciatica, liturgy, or death.
Where, exactly, are you supposed to find friends during the adult stage of your life? You can troll for spouses on the Internet without shame, but there's some stigma attached to friendlessness, some whiff of moral decay. It's tough to admit to, like unemployment or venereal disease. You may be able to spin whole Hollywood franchises off of the search for Mister Right, but even those painfully single heroines of whatever-movie-I'm-watching-on-the-airplane boast posses of bubbly gal pals.
I've been in Richmond a year. I have zero friends. I'm not so bad, I promise! I tell jokes. I laugh. I listen. I am ambulatory! I can formulate complete sentences! I don't want very much. A couple of happy hours! Some walking! Coffee! Maybe a book club or two....
I feel sad and desperate and shameful, like a closeted gay man in the 1920s. Of course, if I were a closeted gay man in the 1920s, I could mosey on down to the club and meet some fellows for drinks. As it stands, I've stooped to browsing the "strictly platonic" listings on Craigslist (wherein, incidentally, there seems to be alarming confusion as to the meaning of the word "platonic." It's not the Platonic ideal, folks. Back it up).