Friday, December 7, 2012

Different Strokes

Elizabeth had looked forward to this massage all day.  She had made the mistake of having lunch with Daphne.  Elizabeth tried to enjoy her salad, but it was difficult with Daphne's crying--again.    There had been way too many lunches with Daphne's tears over her marriage or something her husband had or had not said.  Listening to Daphne made her glad she had never married.  But right now she just wanted to enjoy her massage.

Elizabeth hadn't intended to stay single for life, it had just turned out that way.  She had been very much in love as a young woman.  She and Robert had met through mutual friends and soon became inseparable.  They were not only lovers, but friends.  They spent most of their time together talking.  They could tell each other anything--or sometimes nothing at all--with confidence the other would understand.  

After a year of dating, they became engaged.  But even before they announced their engagement, people talked about them getting married.  It seemed that everyone thought they belonged together.  Shortly after their engagement, Robert had accepted a job out of town.  Elizabeth stayed behind to plan the wedding.  They talked on the phone as much as possible and wrote often.  Both were lonely and looked forward to the time they would be together.

One week Elizabeth didn't receive a letter from Robert, which was very unusual.  The following week she received a letter explaining that he wished to call off the wedding.  There wasn't much else in the letter.  There didn't seem to be a reason, just a goodbye.  Elizabeth's heart was broken.  She didn't understand what had happened or why he had chosen to write such news.  It was bad enough to receive this news, but in a letter?  Surely he could have called her and explained his position.  It seemed the type of thing one needed to explain personally.  

Elizabeth had instinctively gone into auto pilot mode.  She went to work and church, but more like a robot than a person. Every night she looked back over her day with no recollection of any event or conversation.  She wasn't living, she was existing.  

After several months, she resumed dating, but spent each evening comparing her date to Robert.  They always came up short.  As she aged, there were fewer men to date.  Well, that wasn't quite true.  There were plenty of men, but they brought baggage with them.  Some had ex-wives and children.  Others had overbearing mothers.  There were a few who had no social skills.  None of them she wanted to spend the rest of her life with.  Her family asked often, "When are you going to get married?"  She always replied, "When the time is right, I'll get married."  Some people thought she was being too picky.  Others thought she was missing out on life and felt sorry for her.

After a while, Elizabeth decided to throw herself into her career.  She had gone back to college and received her master's degree in business administration.  The degree plus her stellar work ethics had afforded her many promotions and raises.  She was proud of what she had accomplished.

On the way home from the massage, her cell phone rang.  "Hello?"
"Hi sweetheart. How was your day?"
"Oh hi, Mom.  My day was fine.  How was yours?"
"Oh mine was fine.  I went to bible study and then I went to lunch with my friend, Delores.  She has a nephew that she would like for you to meet."
"Mom, we have talked about this before.  I don't want to be set up on dates."
"Well I just hate the thought of you sitting home alone."
"Mom, I may be alone, but I am not lonely.  I enjoy my house, car, pool, vacations and my life just the way it is."
"But as you get older, you'll want someone to share those things with."
"If I feel that way, I'll look for someone.  But for the moment, I like my life."
"Is there any way I can change your mind?"
"No, none."
"I just think it is terrible to be alone."
"Mom, once again, I like my life.  I have to go.  I'll see you this weekend.  Bye."

Elizabeth was frustrated.  They seemed to have this conversation about once a month.  Her position never changed and neither did her mother's.  She didn't know how to get her point across and resented having to defend her position. 

As she drove into her driveway, Elizabeth looked at her beautiful Victorian home.  She had looked long and hard for this house.  Her favorite part was the porch decorated with gingerbread trim.  She spent as much time as possible in the wooden swing on the front porch.  It was a great place to read and enjoy the breeze that constantly blew through the wrap around porch.  Immediately she decided that despite the chill, she'd spend this evening on the front porch.

After changing into comfortable clothes and grabbing a glass of tea and a good book, she made her way to the porch.  As she was swinging and deep into her book, her cell phone rang.  One quick look told her it was Daphne.  She barely said hello before Daphne began wailing and talking between sobs.  One hour later, Elizabeth hung up her cell phone and began to reflect on her life.  She had no one to share her accomplishments with, hold her when she cried, or laugh at her  jokes.  Then again she had no one to make her cry like some of the women in her office, including Daphne.  After several minutes of analyzing her situation and Daphne's, Elizabeth decided there were some things that were worse than being alone.  In her opinion, it was better to be alone in a house than lonely in a relationship.
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