Today was one of the most painful days of my life in recent years, to be quite dreadfully honest.

I knew I wasn't going to enjoy my 5th anniversary homecoming, I just didn't know I was going to find it so very un-enjoyable. It was simply a nightmarish day for a person with the (slight) social anxieties that I seem to have developed.

People I haven't seen in half a decade. There were the uncomfortable avoiding sideways glances when I walked past ex-girlfriends on 2 separate occasions - more uncomfortable for them than me, I had been the one to end things with both. But I had kept in touch with neither and I suspect both hated me for it for quite a while, years ago, so there was very little indeed to speak on. Plus, they're both married now.

But that wasn't so bad. Both of these were just brief moments in an otherwise eventful day. Then there were the many vaguely familiar faces of people I had shared a classroom or lunch table or dorm hallway with at one point or another, but had never had any real connection. And it felt as though we had some cosmic duty to acknowledge one another and re-introduce and catch up as though it mattered, when we'd promptly be off to our own separate worlds for the next five years, come end of day.

But that wasn't so bad. The people you didn't know very well quickly saw someone they had known better and moved on to talk to that person (or I quickly did the same myself). Then there were the many familiar faces of friends long gone - the ones you hadn't been able to keep in touch with as you would have liked, and there was joyous reunion, and somewhat awkward conversation with a spouse you hadn't known well, or at all, but were genuinely glad to meet. The conversations would eventually lull and everyone would have that general realization that this too would pass, and though we might trade business cards, for the most part Monday would come in life-as-normal fashion.

But that wasn't so bad. There were the lifelong friends first formed in the college years that you see on occasion and regularly contact to inquire on their lives and loves and whatnot. Its good to see them but bittersweet that our time will be so short together. There's the difficult juggling of the day's waning hours between which friends you will grab lunch with, see the football game with, get drinks and dinner with.

But that wasn't so bad.

You know what was so bad? So acutely, horribly bad? Exactly what I knew and dreaded would be bad. The fact that I was alone. Apparently the miniscule percentage of my class that continues to remain unmarried was in large part wise enough to not bother to show up for homecoming, because I didn't see ONE of them, that I knew. Not even Knauer. Dammit. Everyone, and I mean EVERYone I saw had the husband or wife, fiance, boyfriend or girlfriend in their zone of social safety.

I'm not mad at them. I'm really not. I'm happy for them - for what they've been blessed with. But I'm sick of not fitting in because I haven't been given this blessing. Sick - as in it turns my stomach, at points. As in I can't stay and stand in these groups and feel like I don't need to run away somewhere where its ok to be alone and not be stigmatized for it. And in an atmosphere like Grove City College, this weekend, alone was the only place you could be where it was ok to be alone.

Leaving tonight bore the same sad, wistful relief of leaving this atmosphere behind that I've felt in the past few times I've visited, although this time was more difficult than ever before. Sad because it used to be such a happy place - and still holds some of the best memories of my life, and yet every time I return I am so forcefully reminded that I am getting older very, very quickly, and I am doing it all. by. my. self. And the drive away is wistful because...well, you're driving away alone. Just like you drove there the night before, except now you've had a day full of the abnormality of your situation placed in stark relief before you.

I am not a lonely person. I am alone. This is where God has put me, for as long as He sees fit. Why can't this be an ok thing?

(sorry for the no post Friday, after work I was on the road for 6 hours driving...)

1 comment:

rebecca marie said...

i am so glad that you can differentiate between lonliness and aloneness. with christ we are never alone. two of my greatest girlfriends are single, one is 32 and one 29 and both are strugling with the idea that God may be calling them to be single, and that didn't cooincide with their plans. one is desperate to make a man fit into her life, and the other is becoming comfortable with the idea of single-ness as long as it furthers God's kingdom. i bet you can guess which one is "lonely" versus which one is "alone." if there is a right girl for you, God will send her to you. or you to her as the case may be.