“You meet a new person, you go with him and suddenly you get a whole new city…you go down new streets, you see houses you never saw before, pass places you didn’t even know were there. Everything changes.”
— Samuel R. Delany, Dhalgren
I think the same is true when you lose somebody.
I went shopping by myself today. Not because I really needed anything, although I did pick up some electric cigarettes, but because I needed to remind myself that I could drive myself to someplace other than work and the grocery store on the corner.
I don’t like to drive. I’ve done it too much for a living, as a road service tech, as a cabdriver, as a repo man. Long ago driving stopped being fun and became a necessary chore. So in our relationship, Sue has always done the driving. She likes it.
That’s fixing to change, though. In a couple of weeks I won’t be able to say, “Hey, Sue, you feel like going to the store?” She’s not going to be there. If I want to go to the store, I’ll have to drive myself.
So I drove around. I hit the Dirt Cheap at Hampton and 44 and listened in on a fascinating discussion about firearms between the clerk and her customer before I realized that this wasn’t a place that was interested in my money so I went in search of someone who was.
I ended up in my old neighborhood, the place where Lewis & Clark really truly and we mean it this time left on their historic voyage to find a parking place in LA. I actually went to the smoke shop I used to patronize in my married days, and they liked my money, so I walked out with cigarettes I have to plug in.
Is this a great country or what? But I digress.
The point is that I am learning to think like a single person again. It’s tough, tough in a thousand sneaky ways that I am just starting to realize. It’s not like I can just flip one switch and change everything I do from an “us” to a “me”, it’s more like I have to pick up everything in my life and turn it over in my hands and ask myself, “how is this going to change?”
How am I going to remember to set the coffee maker to brew fewer cups in the morning? How am I going to know how much rice to cook when I’m just cooking for one? Who is going to tell me who the bad guy is on the crime shows I’m now addicted to? How am I going to know how to work the washer and dryer I bought but have never used? How am I going to know where to sleep in the big bed when no one is there to define her own space?
Who am I going to go out to eat with? Am I really going to have to go back to listening to the hostess whispering “table for one?” in the heartbreaking voice one uses to confirm a cancer diagnosis? Am I even going to bother to see any movies in a theater when I have to sit by myself?
Sometimes I think it’s a good thing that her leave-taking is taking so long. I’m not good with change, and having the extra time to adjust is probably a good thing.
Sometimes, though, it’s like peeling off a bandage that has adhered to an open wound–I just want to rip it clean and get the worst of the pain over with.