Yesterday’s local holiday celebration tapped me in to a reality that has been staring me in the face for a long time, but for the grace of love I have been able to actively ignore. You see, I do not belong in my town.
When I walk through the town I don’t exist as an individual but as a role or as the personification of a role. I am the coach. They call me that in stores and restaurants and when they see me on the street. Most of them don’t even remember my name. The other day I was in another city entirely on a staycation and someone from my small town was there and recognized me… as coach. What happened in that brief moment is what happened over and over again last night. See, when there is no present need for that role, there is little people can do but to comment on that role, have those kinds of brief discussions with me, and finally politely stare and smile expecting me to move along.
I felt completely an utterly alone in the world.
I didn’t entirely recognize this in the past because when I am out in the public space it is either in my role, during a time when my role is relevant, or when I am with my partner. I don’t have a partner in this space anymore. So, I am solo in a city dedicated to and populated by dyads. It is extremely difficult to be the single person in a city where every adult is either married with a huge family or a college-aged kid who exists in an entirely separate reality than I do.
I was lonely and I was angry and I felt the way I often assume a muslim woman in full burka would feel moving through an American suburb. Everyone looks at you, labels you, and has no real use for you or connection to outside of that.
What this means moving forward is that the world I am continuing to slowly create for myself needs to be one built from love and friendships and situations where the people around me appreciate who I am as a person. It means that I can no longer live in a scene where partnership is the price of social entry.