Telling the Truth

connecting the dots of my life

Tag: Invisibility and Loneliness

Looking for friends

During the last several weeks I’ve been restless and lonely. I’m sleeping better and feeling more energetic than I have in the last four years. The weather, on the other hand, has been wildly unpredictable, requiring more in-house activity than usual. Still….

Retirement is heaven on earth. Right? Wrong.

My body has changed and my age keeps creeping ever higher. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t return to academic life with its regular access to interesting students and colleagues. My retirement playground sometimes feels like punishing confinement.

As a child and teenager, I felt left out and lonely most of the time. Not invited to parties, not allowed to go to movies, and not allowed many close friends. Not that there was a long line knocking on my door.

I thought I was over those childhood feelings. Yet they came crashing in on me this past week. Triggered by more than one conversation about a wonderful dinner party or get-together I knew I couldn’t attend even if I wanted to.

The truth is, I don’t want and can’t survive a busy social life. Neither do I want to become someone’s project. I want women friends. A few interesting, trustworthy women. Not for a fabulous dinner out, a trip to the latest show, or even to reminisce about old times.

I’m past the years of being a hostess. I’m beyond cleaning up for company, or trying to transform myself into the social butterfly I’ve never been. I’m also beyond being part of a church visitation team.

This is about connecting in person over a cup of tea or glass of water, going for a walk or not. It’s about regular face to face time with women who might also feel left out, forgotten, or simply in need of female company.

And no, I don’t expect you, my readers, to solve this for me. Though perhaps some of you have felt this way from time to time?

Thanks for taking time to listen.

Elouise

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 2 March 2019
Photo found at nationalpost.com

Early Marriage | Part 2

FRASER_S_0314

Fall 1965-Spring 1966. That’s Park Street Church in the photo. It’s on a corner across from the Boston Common (to the left), and down the hill from the Statehouse. Stately and elegant, the church has a history of outdoor preaching at mid-day from the balcony you see above the corner doors. (click to enlarge)

I’ve never been a member of a church like this. In fact, I’m almost allergic to great big famous churches. Still, it’s an interesting church, and we decide to attend there.

On Sunday mornings traffic is decent. That makes it easier to navigate the twisting cow-path back streets of Boston. On the map below, Park Street is down on the left, just next to the green area–the Boston Common.

~~~Boston Street Map 1960s

~~~Boston Street Map 1960s

Every now and then the senior pastor of Park Street Church hosts a small group of students in his home. It’s for men interested in theological studies or in becoming ministers. Spouses are included, though I don’t remember meeting any except the pastor’s wife. As I said, it’s for men.

Sunday evenings we go to a group for young adults. Most are men, students in colleges and universities. Not many women. Definitely a place to meet, greet and look for interesting people. It seems women have yet to make a substantial mark on the Park Street Church.

Right now D and I are mingling with the large young adult group, meeting and greeting each other. The meeting hasn’t begun yet. Just the mingling.

The following short-version ‘dialogues’ are in my voice. You’ll have to imagine the other sides.

~Hi, I’m Elouise. Pleased to meet you. ‘Elouise.’ Yes, with a ‘u.’ It’s OK. I understand.
~Hi, I’m Elouise. Yes, I’ve been here before. No, I came with David. Yes, he’s my husband. Nice meeting you, too.
~Hi, I’m Elouise. It’s OK. It’s hard to remember names and faces. No, I came with David. See you around.
~Hi, I’m Elouise. That’s right; Elouise. No problem. I’m David’s wife. Nice meeting you, too. See you around.

Is there a sign on my back that says ‘MARRIED’? Why aren’t there more women here? Why am I here?

I know I’m a good listener. But do I really want to hear which courses everyone is taking this semester in college or at a university? Or who’s got which professor? Or the resounding silence with which I am received?

Who am I, anyway? I used to have a name, an identity, friends and a family. And people wanted to know what was happening in my life!

Today I have D. That’s all, besides myself. And ‘MRS’ emblazoned somewhere on my person or hovering above my head.

I know D is interesting. Have they already decided I’m not? Maybe they’re afraid of me. And where are all the women? Aren’t any of these men married? They seem to be allergic to me. Why am I here?

I move a bit closer to D. At least he knows who I am. D reaches his arm around me, smiles, and keeps talking. I think he wants to reassure me.

I’m thrilled to be married to D. But why do people look past me to D when we’re together? Some just walk on by without even acknowledging me. Am I invisible? I know I’m much shorter than D. But surely they see me! Am I that uninteresting?

After several weeks, it seems everybody knows D’s name. I can count on less than one hand how many know mine and actually talk to me. Though when they do talk to me, it’s usually about D! What am I? A robot? A decoration?

I tell D how I feel about this. He sees it, too. He tries to include me in conversations. Most of the time this works for about two seconds. It’s all in the eyes that look away, refocusing on D.

Sometimes I wish I hadn’t come.

To be continued. . . .

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 24 April 2015
Photo credit: DAFraser, Spring 1966 (Park Street Church), and
http://www.city-data.com (Boston Street Map 1960s)

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