Tuesday, 23 November 2010

It's raining men

From a few conversations I have had lately, the world seems to think it is time that I "move on".

At a meeting the other day, one elderly lady asked me if I had found myself a "little friend" yet. At first I thought she was asking if I had got another dog!
There was a time when I would have been shocked or upset or insulted by a question like that, but I am a lot more sanguine about it these days. People mean well.
I told her that I didn't think I was ready yet, and we talked a little about living alone. I explained that, although it had taken a long time to become comfortable with my own company, there are some benefits - the house is feeling a lot less cluttered, for example, and the kitchen table doesn't regularly disappear under a layer of detritus!

And I think that is where I am right now. Comfortable. In my life and in my own skin.

There are times when I would love to be sharing my life with someone again. Not because I need to - I am pretty self-sufficient these days - but the sharing part does appeal. Sharing meals, sharing moments, sharing a joke, sharing a bed, even sharing sadness. Living alone does tend to make one a little selfish, and that is not who I really am.

Every now and again I take the idea of looking for another partner out of its box, place it on the table and examine it well from all sides. So far the thought of dating again has appeared overwhelmingly awful, and the idea is carefully wrapped up again and returned to the box.

My friend Natasha decided the other day that she was going to act as my Official Matchmaker. Unfortunately (or should that be fortunately?) she was unable to come up with any eligible bachelors who weren't either under 25 or well past retirement age, which came as something of a relief!

And therein lies the rub.
For the past two and a bit years I have been surrounded by women.
Funny, smart, comforting, gentle, supportive and loving women. It was exactly what I needed - they have wrapped me in love and kindness, picked me up when I stumbled, handed me tissues on the bad days and laughed with me on the good ones. I wouldn't have got this far without them. But with very few exceptions, the only men I have spent any time with have been family members or the husbands of friends. The top of a hill in the back of beyond isn't the ideal place to start a new career as a single person.

So I had a bit of a shock yesterday evening.
I have mentioned before that I help to run a table tennis club. A couple of the older lads and our coach Brian have formed a team that plays in the local league. Last night Brian was unable to play so he asked me to stand in for him. I was a bit nervous, but that was at the thought of playing at a seriously competitive level, rather than in our little club. But when I walked through the door into the gym, it suddenly struck me that I was the only woman there - it was wall-to-wall men and really quite overwhelming! Had it not been for the fact that I had to drive the two teens home again afterwards, I would probably have turned tail and run.

Naturally once I had calmed down and started playing it was all fine, but it did bring home to me quite how out of practice I am at this being out in the world on my own business.
Oh, and I was roundly thrashed in every game I played. That is OK, though, as improving gives me a goal to work towards while the little box is still on the shelf. Displacement activity is the order of the day in this house.


  1. so many things I love in this post, J.
    The day after matt drowned, some people were "comforting" me by telling me I would find someone else. The day after. Good lord. That has mostly stopped now, and as you say, I am less prickly about it now. The need to see me partnered is about them, not me. People have a hard time, in general, with the idea of not being in a relationship.
    I do miss being loved. Miss having my team, my love to share things with. A friend of mine said months ago, "it's like you lost the echo of life too, where you discuss all the things you do on your own, with your partner." Exactly. I miss being known and loved, without effort or explanation. I miss having him here to talk about the people we see, and the things that happen. But to just have any old warm body - no thank you.

    "top of the hill in back of the beyond" - lovely. I think this too, and sometimes it's rather comforting. I go from home to the woods with the dog to the farm with the cows. Occasionally a farming conference. Sometimes to the coffee shop where matt and I met. Not exactly Social. But then, if there ever is a time when I am so loved again, said being would need to find me in these places that are me.

    Thank you for the image of the box on the shelf - works for me. And, I totally would have hightailed it out of there too, or wanted to. Overwhelm on so many levels! A huge thing to stay, and to be into it.

  2. Liked this post and Megan's comment!

    I'm fine and capable on my own. Yes, it would be nice to share responsibilities, meals, travels etc but !! It took me until I was 50 up fond D ... The likelihood of finding another in this life??? I do miss a male opinion every now and again as yes, one does become surrounded by women.

  3. I think you're right J, people "mean well", but gee those "mean well" questions can drive you crazy. As far as I can see you are getting on with your life, from my perspective you are doing an admirable job.

  4. @Megan: Yes, it is exactly the teamwork aspect that is so missing from my life now. And the not having to ever explain anything because he would just know. It occurred to me the other day just how many words, phrases and expressions there are that I will probably never hear spoken again, and so many memories that no one else will ever remember. It seems such a sad thing.

    @Cicero Sings: Never say never, I guess! And yes, I miss male conversation too - there is a robustness that is often missing when I talk to female friends. And it must be said, I do rather enjoy a good argument.

    @Rose: Yeah, sometimes it does drive you crazy. Mostly I try to look at the intent behind the words, but there have been some crass things said that required a sharp intake of breath before responding!

  5. I began reading just because you left a comment on Cookiecrumb's blog and had to scroll all the way back to find out how your dear husband had died and what you've been doing to regain your life ever since. My heart goes out to you in your struggle. Sending support from California. Hang in there.

  6. @Zoomie: Thanks for dropping by and for the good wishes.

  7. Love this post - it touches on so many levels! About a year after my husband died one of his elderly relatives asked me if I was out looking, adding, "you're not getting any younger dearie!"

  8. LOL WitM. That is a real classic!!!