We never socialized much, Mike and I, and when social opportunities arose they were almost always relevant to just one or the other of us, but not to both. Mike had his interests I and had mine, so when something came up, we went solo and the one not going stayed happily home with Angelic Daughter.
I enjoyed my own company just fine for all those years before I met Mike, but I had lots to do – I lived in the city and I could fall out the door and go take an improv workshop, or perform in an improv show or children’s theater, or sing in a chorus. I met Mike when I wasn’t really looking, not desperately, anyway.
This present aloneness, even though I’m not all by myself, feels very different. Watching Angelic Daughter lean in toward the webcam with her arms outspread to give her Uncle a virtual hug during their first Zoom talk, and the sense that every trip to the grocery store is life-threatening, or when my responses to prompts in Teams chats, intended to boost WFH spirits, get no reaction – these things, silly or profound, make this isolation feel a lot more… isolated.
When, toward the end of the work day, the music on my classical music station turns too loud or atonal for my tastes, I turn to Spotify to find music that will get me through to clock-off time.
I wasn’t intentionally looking for a good cry when this change-the-music habit began – I was actually looking for something more upbeat. I found plenty of great oldies to bounce to in my bungie-cord office chair while I finished my last written piece for the day. But for some reason, a lot of the songs that turned up on the artist-based “radio” stations I chose were ballads that turned on the waterworks. Maybe they reminded me of long-lost youth, or the intense emotions of long-lost youth. Or they made me think of my Dad, or of Mike, or past, unrequited loves.
But mostly, something about these songs drills right through to the core of the isolation and I find myself staring at a future where going solo is a permanent condition. Because by the time the masks come off, if I’m still around, I’m pretty sure any chance I might have had to find love again will have passed, for good.
These songs remind me that a few years from now, when I sing along, I’ll still be singing alone.
The lantern in the photo above was one of the very few material things Mike brought with him into our marriage. Angelic Daughter and I light a candle within it during our evening “music time,” when we sit together in the dark, sometimes with music, but often without, until she has repeated “Dad can’t come back, it doesn’t work that way” enough times to bring herself to internalize that truth. She says it over and over again, until she feels sad, and until she has heard me reassure her many times that Dad’s love is always with her, and that while I’m not Dad, and I’m not as fun as Dad, and I don’t cook like Dad did, tonight, I’m still here.
Recently, when Angelic Daughter has sensed that I’m sad, or cabin fever has dented my patience and I have gotten upset with her, she somehow, from the mysterious place within her where her extraordinary emotional intelligence resides, knows how I hate myself for my lapse of emotional control, and she says, “don’t worry Mom. If you need anything, I’m right here for ya.”
Who needs a playlist to have a good cry when you have that? But I’ll share my playlist of cryin’ songs anyway. I think you click on my face there to play it, or open your Spotify app and search for the playlist by name, “Ridiculouswoman’s Cryin’ Songs.” I don’t know what will happen in this link if I revise the list, and I can’t do anything about ads that might play, but you get the idea, anyway. Hope you’ve got enough Kleenex in the house.
In the meantime, singing solo at home (because Angelic Daughter likes to sing solo, too) and looking for the tissues, I remain,
Your grateful-for-some-sun-this-morning-and-thinking-about-throwing-in-some-cookies-and-cannoli-with-our-Friday-pizza-and-wings-delivery order,