Since she’s a woman of means and position in my town, by the time the Fine Arts Ball rolled around, everyone knew the messy story of how Pat dumped her for his secretary. Who would get the Tuscan villa, which top divorce lawyer would have the guts to incur Pat’s wrath by taking her case, how big would the settlement be; these were the questions occupying the minds of the Vanity Fair folks that night. Would she even show, wondered the men and women gathered in the ballroom.
Anna showed. Rode down the elevator and into the staring crowd with a man on each arm as her shields. Not just any men, these. Her two tuxedoed escorts are known for their smarts, looks and bank accounts. She’d borrowed the husbands of two of her best friends. They stuck by her side the whole evening, getting her drinks, flanking her at her table, waltzing her around the dance floor.
To Vanity Fair, she looked calm, peaceful, beautiful.
I know that on this, her first night out on her own, Anna’s couture dress hid a shattered heart and confidence dripping away from her, like the diamonds dangling lightly from her earlobes.
I have neither means nor position. No one outside a small circle of friends knows the story of Alan leaving me. Not much speculating going on about how our divorce would be resolved.
So my first night out on my own, no one much noticed.
I tried to get someone to go to that little fundraiser with me. No one would.
I almost didn’t go. Even after paying for my ticket, I almost stayed home. Who wants to walk alone into a crowd of strangers? But the issue mattered enough to me. I went.
And was glad I did. Among the folks recognized for giving the most money, volunteering the most hours, serving the longest on the board, it turned out I was one of the most consistent, long-time supporters.
My name was called. I stood up. The other guests applauded little old broken-hearted me. No one knew I was in the midst of a sad divorce. No one much noticed I was there
by myself, or cared, if they did notice.
After that night it kept getting easier to go out to dinner parties as the only single person at the table. Or to show up at cocktail parties by myself. Or to spend a weekend at a friend’s cabin, three couples and me.
Yet, reclaiming another part of life alone eluded me. In my young single days, I loved long solitary bike rides, or strapping on my cross county skis and making tracks on fresh snow.
Not anymore. Twenty-five years of sharing all that with Alan killed the pleasure of solitude.
Until last weekend. Such a perfect Saturday; the oppressive heat and humidity lifted, the sky clear. I pushed myself, admonishing myself every step of the way, “Georgia, you know you love doing this. You know it’ll make you feel good.”
I headed out of the city for my favorite bike trail that includes just about everything I need for paradise, including a large body of water, a forest and a remote wetland. Last time there, I shared the trail with Alan. Now, I had to face it alone.
After biking fifteen miles, I hit my Zen spot on a wooden platform jutting out over a marsh. For an hour I did nothing but sit and dream. Sometimes perched up on the top
of the railing, sometimes sitting on the deck, feet dangling out over the water.
Sometimes staring inland, through the grasses growing taller and thicker along the boardwalk than I’d ever seen them. Sometimes staring down into the water, watching the algae, lily pads and water grasses dance off to my left in the breeze, then bend, dip, turn and waltz back to my right.
I found it again, in that hour, the peace and calm of being on my own.