"I'd prefer to sit here and absorb my sadness, thanks." That's what I'll say if anyone asks why I'm sitting here in this beautiful park all alone. They might ask if I want to go for a walk. Yes, that's what I'll say, I'll just be honest.
Who am I fooling, they don't see me, I am invisible.
Up on the grassy hill overlooking the city, a wedding is taking place. The couple has just finished the ceremony and people are congratulating them. I remember my day 25 years ago.
"You'll never be lonely again," my best girlfriend said.
I lost touch with her after her own wedding and the birth of her children two years later. I wanted to see her now, to ask her what she meant by that; because as far as I remember I wasn't lonely prior to my nuptials. But the last years of supposed marital bliss have, in fact, been the most agonizing of my life. I have not known pain such as this. The pain of emptiness.
I must have gotten up to walk at some point, because now I realize I have spent to long looking at my feet and I am lost - in thought and in life. The path that once lay before me, mapped out so I would never lose my way has disappeared. Now all I see is the untamed bush and a dark gray sky staring menacingly through the trees.
Darkness. A lack of light, it stops you from finding things. It causes you to feel lost, trapped and abandoned. It starts as a seed lying dormant in your belly; soon it is growing fiercely with roots creeping inside you, in every direction - up your legs, into your lungs and across your arms. Everyday they threaten to move closer to your throat, your heart and your brain - stopping the airflow, stopping the vital lifeblood from flowing freely through your body.
Eventually they will close in, it's inevitable. One day the tentacles will engulf your organs until they have sapped every last ounce of essence. You can't breathe, think or feel. You are nothing but a shell, condemned to an eternity of nothingness. An existence spent wandering, trying to find your way back to the path.
It was made of yellow sand, I'm sure. It was bright and happy. Or maybe it was rich black dirt, such a contrast to the brightness - either way it was a track that lay carefully carved out between the trees.
The sky begins to rumble, and I decide it's time to go home. Where the heart is right?
I walk mindlessly until I reach the crossroad. To my left is the same street I've lived on for a quarter of a century in the house where I brought my children home from the hospital and threw parties for them every year until they turned 18 and said it was time they had their own life. Richard is still living with us, but he's rarely home now that he has his girlfriend.
To my right was a road that looked busy, packed with people and cars. Everyone looked so sure of themselves, they didn't look at the path as they walked because they had direction and nothing was going to stop them from getting to their destination. A woman walked toward me and when she stopped at the cross walk I could smell her perfume. I remember wearing that scent, Vanilla Fields, it was my favorite. I closed my eyes and breathed it in, the memories and the smell. I began to imagine this woman's life.
The woman was dressed in a black pantsuit; she had dark red hair tied into a ponytail and no wedding band on her finger. There was always an air of freedom unmarried women had about them.
The woman was on her way home from the office where she worked as a lawyer, she lived alone in the small terrace house she bought last year. Her refrigerator is packed with vegetables, yogurt and Lean Cuisine as well as a half empty bottle of white wine.
The woman has had a tough day, there's a big case on at the moment and she is working horrendous hours. This is the first night in weeks she's been home before midnight.
When she gets home, she runs a bath and takes of her high heeled shoes. The water is hot and the scented bubbles help her relax. Later, she watches television surrounded by notes from the case she's working on, she half reads them while watching a late night talk show. At 11:00 p.m. she gets into her queen size bed and covers herself with an oversized feather quilt made of 100% white cotton….
"Excuse me, ma'am are you okay there?" An elderly man interrupts my thoughts.
"Oh yes, I'm fine…." I say and he walks across the road.
I know I should find shelter before the rain comes, but my legs are glued to the ground. It has been so easy all these years. When walking home from the supermarket I never had to think where I was going, I never had to look up. I know every bump and every hole in the path.
I feel drawn to the right, to this scary new world where I don't know the bumps in the road, where I might have to look up to see where I'm going and who I could bump into.
The town hall clock lets me know it is now 6:00 p.m. He'll be walking in the door any moment. He'll go to the kitchen, open the refrigerator to get a beer and sit in front of the television. The plates and cutlery clinking together will let him know that dinner is ready. That is the only kind of communication we have, maybe there are no need for words when you've been together for so long?
I continue to stand there, not quite ready to walk down the new road. For today, this is far enough. For today, it is enough to wait here and let him wonder where his dinner is.