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Another lonely Christmas . I tell myself it really has to be the last, and that I have to change my life just enough to end this isolation that I feel. The feeling that my experiences in the world are too outside the norm to express. The feeling that I cannot relate or truly connect with anyone. The worry that I will never have intimacy in my life, any, or enough.

I have never known how to perform my personal life. Only work. So, how can I possibly know how to change it?

The latter part of this year I began to try to express my loneliness to the people in my life and the experience has only made me feel more isolated and… alone. It’s really hard to understand why this is. Is it because people don’t want to feel responsible for my loneliness? They are not. But I do think they could do a little more to help me feel less alone.

What would that look like?

Allowing me to speak the truth about loneliness and my inability to shake it.  Understanding – and being unafraid to understand – what life looks like without children, without a partner, without parents, without a connected family. In short, not shunning the things that many  people fear most.

It’s difficult to even write this down – so much of lonely defies words. I’m certainly aware this is not my most eloquent post. I’m not the type who thrives on feeling tortured.

Loneliness is more common than anyone wants to think about. I’m tired of pretending it doesn’t have a firm hold on me.

But what I’ve learned is, asking for help doesn’t always work. Strange.

I had three occasions this Christmas where I sat and watched other people open gifts. Sure, there was a token gift for me at all three parties – so I wouldn’t feel left out. The gesture is noted and appreciated, however, it’s still hard to watch other people share their intimate moments knowing you do not have a one and only (mother, child, lover). Each experience left me more numb than before hand.

In case you ever wondered, this is why it’s preferable to be alone at Christmas.

People mean well, they do. My friends and family love me, I know this. But I would feel  much more connected and loved if I could just talk to one of them openly and honestly about how it really is with me.

You can’t really DO anything for me, except let me know you understand that this is how it is for now in my life.

And that would mean everything.

Cupcake comfort

There’s something else going on when I’m wielding a hand-mixer besides just making sweet food.

It’s a comfort thing.

Gold themed Christmas cupcakes

Baking conjures memories of  how my sister and I, out of sheer boredom on a Saturday night (and also because my parents didn’t allow many store-bought sweets) would bake up some cookies, or a cake – often inventing recipes. Sometimes to disastrous results, but other times surprisingly yummy!

read more here

I baked these for my great-niece’s Hallowe’en fun! They’re banana chocolate cupcakes with fluffy vanilla icing. Both recipes are from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes.

 

I blame the lovely Rose Quartz earrings my cousin gave me for my birthday – the ones that supposedly attract love. Of course, that was her objective for me, though I had my doubts. But, every time I wear them something happens with men.

No kidding!

The other day, headed for the streetcar, a man started to talking to me as we both crossed the street. “Beautiful day,” he said. “Yes, it is,” I politely replied, and planned to leave it at that. Clearly, he didn’t. He promptly told me that, being from Brazil, he tended to be very friendly and “lovey,” I think he said! And to prove that he took my hand and, bringing it to his face, caressed it with his cheek.

Hmmm….

Now, it’s obligatory for me to ask myself; if this man were tall, cute and a bit younger, would I have minded this type of aggressive, yet somehow charming, attention? But, he was at least a half a foot shorter than me and clearly not my type. (I hear a chorus of “you’re being too picky,” but bear with me here).

Somehow this man figured I was interested, likely by virtue of my not being affronted by the hand-to-cheek  gesture, and he followed me onto the streetcar. I sat in a single seat, he sat behind me, then asked me to move to a two-seater with him. I declined. He told me then that he was divorced, had two children, and by the way loves blonds and could I guess how old he is. When I couldn’t (or didn’t want to venture a) guess, he told me he was late 40s. I didn’t say a word. Then he wanted to know where I was going, what I did for a living and if I had a card I could give him so he could call me. Again, I politely, but vaguely answered all questions and told him I didn’t have a card on me. That didn’t stop him from giving me his card, urging me to call him for a drink. This was as he got up to leave. He then bent over me and kissed me on both cheeks.

I guess this is how they do it in Brazil.

So, what’s wrong with this, as one of my male friends was quick to ask? Nothing really. It’s been awhile since anyone has tried to pick me up on the street. He was harmless, it was flattering. I’m Italian, so the touchy-feely isn’t so jarring. I do know a number of women who would have given him an earful, or at least walked away before he got too far. I wasn’t offended, or annoyed, I thought he was a nice, probably kinda lonely man.  And I know a thing or two about loneliness.

I’m beginning to think I should be a little more choosy about when and where I don these powerful earrings. I do like that the Rose Quartz seems to be working as a cupid, but perhaps it might change direction a little with its target!

In case you’re wondering, this is how the Modern Spinster spends alot of weekends… baking.

Solo

A few months ago I went to a concert by myself. I do this a lot, go out alone. Sometimes I prefer it. I really didn’t think it was a big deal until I told a couple of people about the concert. Of course the inevitable question was, who’d you go with? The reactions surprised me.

Apparently it’s courageous to do something social on your own. Or, maybe it’s even anti-social!

Read the rest at my primary blog site.

One year on Valentine’s Day a friend of mine invited me to an “anti-Valentine” party at a club in downtown Vancouver. At the time I was putting together a story about why men and women find it so hard to meet in that city. So I thought, at the very least I can get some really good quotes and observations about how the sexes interact. We walked in, were given a playing card and were told that there would be a guy in the room with the same card. The challenge was trying to find him.

I thought it was pretty lame actually. I mean, why can’t you just go into a club or a coffee shop, party or anywhere really, and strike up a conversation with someone. I greatly dislike anything so contrived, which is the main reason I really don’t enjoy “dates.” I prefer a casual unfolding of life, perhaps the old-fashioned way.

Soon enough, we got bored and left the party to join a bunch of gals at another kind of anti-Valentine party which was meant to be a “girl power” type celebration of friendship and comfort for us singletons.  Silly.

The thing is, Valentine’s Day is just another day in the year. When I’m in a relationship it’s nice to mark the day but it’s really not the biggest deal.

This year Valentine’s Day falls one day before a newly minted regional holiday called Family Day. The combination of the two can make a single, middle-aged,, no kids gal feel sort of bereft. But rather than seeking refuge in my gal pals – many of whom are married or in relationships anyway, I prefer to shut the world out and focus on the things I enjoy in my own little settled home life. The things that I’ll one day share, in the right circumstance, with a guy who’s ready and willing.

For today though, it’s just me and the cat.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

The other day I ventured into the Bay, downtown Toronto, looking for a specific item that, as it happens, I didn’t find. Walking around the store searching for a Plan B gift it occurred to me that the reason I’m a late Christmas shopper is because I only enjoy holiday music on actual Christmas Eve and Day. I don’t know if this is a bi-product of spending so many Christmases working in retail or if it’s a December-birthday protest. But I can tell you that the more holiday music that’s played the faster I high-tail it outta the store.

On this particular day, it didn’t matter where I went, a sad Christmas song followed me. “What do the lonely do on Christmas,” plaintively played in the Bay; another store a  male hip-hop singer whined, “My girl forgot about me this Christmas.” In the absence of a decent newly penned Christmas song, I’ll take a good ol’ Jingle Bells or Let it Snow.

“What do the lonely do on Christmas,” is not a song you want to hear as you cruise through a mall, knowing that the last few Christmases have been a kind of lonely you find hard to speak about, and clearly there’s been not much progress in these last 365 days. Sure, I have family and friends. But there’s something extra special missing at this extra special time, that seems to last an extra special longer time with each passing year.

I didn’t even have the energy to feel insulted by such a song. What do the lonely do indeed?

“The Lonely”

As a kid I loved the season, most kids do, and having those memories are what makes solo Christmases sorta sad. In theory I still do enjoy the holidays. In practice, I try to make the most of them.  But if the stores must serenade us, please don’t let it be with a song that puts me back in the mood I work so hard to cajole myself out of at this time of year.

Stupid song!

Last night I was out for some birthday’s eve drinks with a gal pal. I’m in my late 40s, she’s in her mid-2os. I have a few younger friends and always seem to fall into a mentor type relationship with them, giving them career advice, lending my ear on relationship worries. I enjoy hearing about their struggles and triumphs in the world — the same, and yet so much different from mine, based on being born decades apart. Though I am a nurturing person in general,  I wouldn’t say I mother these young women.

So, I was surprised when my pal and I were mistaken for mother and daughter. A first it was a vanity thing, I suppose. You know, mid-life birthday sensitivity. People never tire of being shocked when they find out my age because apparently, so I’ve been told regularly, I do not look it. (Believe me, I know how old I am when I look in the mirror in the early A.M.!)

AHA, I thought, I caught the lot of them in a lie! I said as much to my friend. Her reaction was to say that she gets mistaken for older than she is, which only made me feel worse! (after all, not too long ago a corner store clerk asked me if my request to buy a transit pass was for adult or senior!!!)

But anyway…

I realized later the true reason why I bristled at the mistake. This innocent observer (who, by the way, was a street person who had sadly, but with savvy, set up a temporary shelter on a very cold night in the ATM vestibule of a bank), couldn’t have known that I am not a mother, and that I’m still getting square with that in my mind. Some days it’s ok, sometimes – and the passing of another year might be one of those times – it’s not.

The truth is, had I brought forth life, he or she may well have been early to mid-twenties by now. I’d be enjoying a companionship whose bond goes way beyond even the best friendship.

There’s no way my young friend, with so much promise and life in front of her, could understand this. It’s my issue and one that comes to roost for  women (and probably some men) who, by choice or by circumstance, haven’t had children.

It makes me sad, but also relieved that I am not so superficial as to be worried about looking at least my age.

Thank goodness for small mercies!

cupids-accident

When you’re single people love to suggest solutions. I hate dating, I think everyone does. There’s nothing comfortable about it.

At a certain point though, you feel like you at least have to try everything once. Even if it’s so those well meaning people in your life can’t accuse you of being too “picky.”

Here’s my story which was published in the November ’09 issue of More Magazine.

Meet Your Match