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Home Aloneness

by MISSY BEATTIE

Magic sifted through a cloud

landed with such a shout

on the shell of her heart

the sorrow cracked out.

The cloud grabbed it on a run

and handed her tears to the sun.

— Laura Comley

Several friends suggested match.com.  One of my sons, visiting with his girlfriend, said,  “We know someone whose mother met a nice man on Senior Dating.” They powered the laptop, pulled up the website, and entered my zip code.

“No, no, no, no, no,” I said, as I looked at the men.  One was pictured with a stethoscope around his neck.  Why not “God” inked across his forehead?

That was, maybe, early 2011.

This is now.

And I’m lonely.  You know.  I’m not bored.  But I’m lonely.  There really is a difference.

About three month ago, I went to Senior Dating to, well, to just, I don’t know, exactly, what.  But I was unable to view any profiles.  I guess the first time your computer travels to take a looksee at this particular place, there’s no barrier.  After that, you’re required to create a profile. So, I did, and it couldn’t have been a better misrepresentation.  I wrote that I’m overweight, have pets, and am extremely religious.  There was a pull-down menu for some descriptors, like hair.  Among the choices were long, short, blond, and the selection I clicked “what hair.” I provided no photo.

The doctor was still there—without the stethoscope.

And despite posting no photo, I received a few, um, indications of interest.  I took no action except inaction.

But, recently, while careening though the home-aloneness maze, I decided to search for a support group in Baltimore, as a way to meet ……….. a widower, thinking a widower would understand. Google provided more widow/widower dating sites than what I wanted, but I clicked on one of the links. Then, I backed out to fabricate a fake name and email address.  Returning to the dating site, I registered, creating a REAL profile of my appearance, interests, and what I was hoping to find within a 25-mile radius of my zip.

And I began to feel sick to my stomach.

After choosing a pay package for three months of exposure, I noticed an “Upgrade Option.”  For an additional $13.99, I could get the extra special, which I couldn’t grasp.  More what?  I made a call to someone knowledgeable and was told my photo might be highlighted to attract attention.  I pictured flashing stars or hearts.  And I said, “I’m not posting a photograph.  I just can’t.“  He told me no one would contact me if I didn’t.  Still, I paid for three months, no upgrade, with a credit card and, then, noticed further areas for details about my life.

The stomachache intensified.

I shrank the page and took a walk.

Stayed out about an hour.  When I returned and retrieved the page I hadn’t completed, I “clicked” something (?) and was smack-dab staring at widowers. One described himself as liberal and educated.  And he wanted a passive life partner. Most said they were very religious, in church daily.  Again, I phoned my in-the-know contact.  “Doesn’t mean anything. They’re saying this because they think it makes them look better,” he said.

Immediately, I began to look for access to cancel.  Nothing.  Finally, I found a “Help” number.  When I explained to the representative that I just couldn’t do this, she told me she was in India (where else?), covering many sites, and wanted to know which one I’d chosen.  I said it was for widows and widowers.  Her voice softened.  She said she understood.  She’d be happy to close the account. But she could find no credit card information.  After giving her my fake screen name, she said, “Your credit card wasn’t charged.”   I thanked her, took a shower, and cried.

Later, around dinnertime, I went to sister Laura’s and, over a glass of Prosecco, mapped my trip to Lonely Land.  We laughed.  And laughed some more.  The next morning, after running, I stopped by her place.  She said, “I’ve written a poem for you, just for you.”   She read it aloud.  It’s up there, under the title, and opens this piece. Peace.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore.  She’s willing to relocate—to NYC.  Email:  missybeat@gmail.com.  

 

 

 

 

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Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

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