At the grocery store this weekend, I saw one of my secret fears. This little older lady was putting single frozen entrees into her cart. Now, it could be she and her significant other don't eat very much, or her oven is broken and this is a short term solution, or she's buying for a friend, or she hates to cook, or maybe even a dozen other possible paradigms. But I think the reason she was eating single serving frozen entrees is that she's alone ... all alone.
I'm going to let you in on one of my deepest, darkest fears, my loves - being alone when I'm older. The kids are grown, the grandchildren (if there are any when that time comes) aren't interested in me, the husband is dead, the cabana boy has moved on (that's what we call humor) and friends are few and far between. I'm still working, because a. why not if I can, b. have you seen my 401K and c. cat food does not taste good. I'll still be cooking for myself, because I really enjoy that, but it'll be single servings. So, I can see myself resorting to the simplest things like eating cold cereal for dinner.
I love quiet moments for contemplation, to work through my personal philosophies, to write, to read, to craft, but most of the time, it's not really that quiet. Even now, the tv is on for background white noise, my son is practicing electric guitar six feet from me, the youngest is laying down a funky beat on her drum next to him and the eldest is typing on her laptop. I can function amidst the wall of sound. If there was silence, I'd be left alone with this brain of mine, and that might not be a completely pleasant experience. Now before someone chimes in and tells me that time alone with myself will help me grow as a human and have a greater appreciation for any number of things, from the creator on down to staying in the lines when I paint my toes ... no, no it won't. I have lived inside this head for 43 years, and in all actuality, I quite like it in there. It can be a fun time, but I need to share my thoughts, to speak them out loud in order to not get stuck in the flowchart in my noggin.
Someone I love told me recently that I was one of the strongest people they know. Seeing that little older lady in the grocery store with her tiny collection of boxes made me question the veracity of that statement. Because when I looked into her cart, it was like looking into a chasm of loneliness and despair. It was me in 35 years, trying to navigate through the crowded store, picking out the smallest package of chicken and two onions, the small bottle of mayo and individual potatoes. How do you even do that? I buy the biggest bag I can put in the cart now, because I make five pounds at a time. How do you cook one damn potato? Some of you know full well that I will be having this conversation in the grocery store with myself in front of those potatoes. I'm going to have to learn how to hide that part of me better. An old lady having a talk with a potato is going to attract unnecessary attention.
Maybe it's an unfounded fear. Maybe the children will always be near, if there are grandchildren, they will come and help me clean, the cabana boy and I will vacation together while the husband writes his 57th novel, and I will have dark purple hair. My sister and I, along with multiple friends will routinely get together to tell raucous jokes and curse like sailors. Maybe they will improve the taste of cat food, too.