Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Last weekend was my 25th college reunion. I live right down the street from the school, and find myself on campus often, so it was easy to attend. I signed up for the whole program, from dinner on the quad Thursday night through the football tailgater Saturday evening. My goal in committing so much time was two-fold: I wanted to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances, and I thought maybe I would meet someone interesting.

The first goal was easy; all I had to do when asked "What have you been up to all these years?" was to say "Well, I've been going through a tough time lately. I lost my husband last year." That immediately took the conversation to a much more intimate level than might otherwise have resulted: people shared their own losses with me, we talked about the meaning of life and the amazing joys of children, about making a difference in your job and enjoying every moment. I probably said those words "I lost my husband last year" at least 50 times. Depending on the listener's response, I shed a few tears or not, and it didn't matter too much to me either way. I definitely talked with more women, especially those from my freshman dorm, but I also shared my story with some thoughtful and compassionate men (alas, all married).

I confess to a certain sense of pride regarding the tragic nature of my story, and almost a pleasure in shocking and impressing my listener with the magnitude of my loss and my strength, bravery and resilience. I was there, after all, talking about it candidly and insightfully. Or at least that's how I saw myself; there is every likelihood that I was in fact a bit boorish and boring. It is intoxicating, having a story that trumps anything anyone else might tell; intoxicating to imagine myself the subject of discussion later on and back home. I finally achieved popularity!

There was a class panel one afternoon, where the theme was transition and change. I very much enjoyed hearing the stories of the five panelists, describing how close or far they landed from their graduation dreams, and how they approached transition and change. When polled, about half the audience indicated they were in a pretty stable place in their lives currently, and the other half admitted to being in transition. I certainly feel like I'm in transition, or rather in a limbo state that may precede major change. Being comfortable just sitting in that place, and trusting that when the time is right the path will open up, is what I'm working on right now.

Looking back on past reunions, I was in transition, or challenged in some way, at each one, it seems. At the 20th, I was all about infertility. At the time of the 15th, which I didn't attend, I was preparing to break up with my live-in boyfriend. (Receiving the invitation earlier that summer, I wondered if I would have executed my break-up plan by then, so I could go and possibly meet someone new. I dragged my feet too long and didn't actually do the deed until perhaps the weekend of the reunion itself.) Where will I be at the 30th? I hope to have my grief resolved, be at peace with my loss, and be content with my life. Oh, and I hope to be married, too. I keep trying to focus on inner peace and contentment, being happy by myself and not dependent on a relationship for wholeness, but the truth right now is that I really want a life partner to share love, companionship, and parenting.

That brings me to the second goal of the weekend, my desire to meet someone interesting. It was not achieved. I did go to a singles event, but there were not many eligible men, it seemed, though I did enjoy talking with some nice women (as always!). Ah well, I'm not at all certain I'm ready right now to invest emotional energy in a new relationship. And I did put out the idea, to many of the people I talked with, that I would like to be married again. Who knows what will appear when the time is right?

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