‘I am not lonely!’ she balkes as if she were being accused. The other woman turns away shamed somewhat, looks in to the milky black muck that is her coffee, the words repeating in her head. For she knows she is alone, and feels this knowing intensely everyday. There is no doubt that she is alone when everyday she wakes up in the morning, drinks her morning coffee, takes her morning jog and after performing her morning constitutionals, goes off to her ridiculously boring job at a call centre that barely pays the rent for her one bedroom hole. First world problems indeed.
‘I wasn’t accusing you. Many people are alone.’ she attempts and then immediately turns her head to look out of the coffee shop window, masking her anger by attempting to appear to watch the passers-by. ‘ I know that you are not accusing me’ He friend answers gently now. Her rebuff as settled and now it is plain that she is a little embarrassed. ‘I have friends, I have a cat…I just want to fall in love that’s all. Why can’t I fall in love?’.
Benign question, she thinks, …what is falling in love anyway? Isn’t it lust followed by a commitment to get used to each other, complement each other? Isn’t that what it is about? She doesn’t know any more, after a series of failed relationships, and now she believes she is too old for any further attempts. Besides, at post menopause there is none of that drive that used to fuel her pursuit for love.
‘Well I hope you find someone’ she doesn’t really mean it, but sips her coffee gingerly to disguise her dishonesty ‘and that someone is a nice man for once…you deserve someone nice.’ But really she is thinking ‘do we deserve anything’. How about people living in poverty, surely they deserve a quality of life more than us first worlders always seeking company, community merely for a sharing of accomplishments. Over the years she has observed the old operations of community as disappearing, running down the pipe, there is no caring for the bereft stranger any more for in this post capitalist society, it is the strangers fault that she or he is bereft. Perhaps there has never been, merely giving to those marked as deserving.
Urgently her friend adds interrupting her revelry , ‘ I just want to feel good about living. I feel bad everyday. I wake and and the first thought is a bad one, a real bad one and then I find it hard getting out of bed.I don’t want to sound like a victim but I hate being me’ She nods her head believing that she understands her friend and concludes her friend’s experience as mere navel gazing. It is later on her own beneath the bubbles lying in her bath is when she will question this summation . After all, how can one judge how an other experiences the world.
‘ I want you to be happy.’ she states this placing her hand over hers gently squeezing the plumpness of her hand that she suspects is fluid retention from alcohol use. She had noted this in her own body. ‘Please be happy.’ She adds for good measure for actually, she doesn’t want the responsibility of these conversations any longer. With this friendship there is only the sharing of fraught happenings she has concluded and really the sharing is all on her friends part as she tends to keep everything to herself
‘I am trying to be happy…but how can people be happy when they have no one in their lives. I have no family, no children, no lovers.’ ‘But you have friends’ she urgently retorts. “yes I have friends,’ she concedes turning her hand in hers she she an squeeze it, ‘but I…I just don’t know any more.
None of us does she think, but keeps this thought from her friend. Instead sips her coffee pondering whether she can keep a cat in second story apartment.