Posted in A Moment in My Life

“It Took a Tumble”

A Moment in My Life – Monday, May 23, 2022

Jeannie Yee Davis

Old habits are so darn hard to break. I keep working on it, and this is one of those areas where my success is one step forward and two steps backward. It doesn’t help that I’m always in a hurry. I have so much to do that I won’t run out of tasks even if I’m the Energizer Bunny 24/7. There are pros and cons to being energized. Pros are getting tasks checked off the list and feel good that I’ve accomplished something that will improve an area of my life. I can sum up the cons with an accident waiting to happen.

With accidents, you never know what, how, or when it might happen. That’s why they call it an accident. On Saturday morning, I had one of those so-called accidents when I moved a bit too quickly back up the stairs to my office. This time, I can’t blame it on the music piping through my ears distracting me. I was simply in a hurry to get back to my desk with my breakfast smoothie. I had two conversations happening online, multi-tasking with my morning writing. Words filled my mind, waiting to hit the page before I forgot them. 

In a flash, it didn’t matter what I was thinking. I forgot them when I landed at the bottom of the stairs with one slipper still on, and the other sailed away with the floor mat beneath me. My smoothie remained obedient in its cup like a torch in my left hand as my right shin kissed the edge of the second step, and my right forearm slapped the edge of the fourth step. Of course, they had to land on the edge where it would hurt the most. I took turns rubbing my shin and forearm, telling them not to stress out. I don’t know. It was wishful thinking that if I talked down the injured areas like a mother soothing a wounded child, it would lessen the hurt. It eased the pain, but not on my pinky, which got into the action somewhere between and swelled, reddened, and throbbed. That scared me. I repeatedly applied BioFreeze on it, took down the swelling, and lessened the pain.

My technique worked. There is no residue, not even a bruise, of my fall, but this wasn’t the first time I slid off that mat, and I’m sure it won’t be the last unless I make a change. This time, I seriously considered getting rid of that mat. It should be a no-brainer and an easy peasy thing, but it was not easy for me. Removing it meant letting go of a part of my life with my late husband, Mark, because it was a mat with a “D” on it, making it personal.

In the past, it would’ve been a no-brainer. I would’ve decided on the spot and told Mark that we were tossing the mat. Period. But today, I am feeling guilty for wanting to dump it. It was a gift from one of Mark’s judo students, making it harder to let go. I hem and haw back and forth with yay and nay. So, I removed the rug that morning to see if I could let it go. And, you know what? I didn’t miss it, and I liked not having a mat at the bottom of the stairs. To make it easier, I reminded myself that this was just a gift that we received, and we found a place for it—not something that Mark and I had chosen together. Had I told Mark my plan, he would’ve said, “Fine by me. No skin off my nose.” And with that, I finally felt okay to toss it. It’s just one small floor mat, but the act felt like a load off my shoulders. It was a step towards changing an old habit of letting go. You never know what might happen to orchestrate a necessary change until it happens. For me, it took a tumble.

Posted in A Moment in My Life

“The Tennessee Waltz”

A Moment in My Life – Friday, May 20, 2022

Jeannie Yee Davis

Just when I thought the past was buried and gone, never to be seen or thought of again, then Patsy Cline mournfully belts out her story of heartbreak. My fingers froze over my keyboard. My eyes stared inwardly into my mind’s eye as Patsy’s sweet voice deposited her sad story in my ears. 🎶 “I was dancing with my darling to the Tennessee Waltz. When an old friend I happened to see. I Introduced her to my loved one, and while they were dancing, my friend stole my sweetheart from me. I remember the night and the Tennessee Waltz. Now I know just how much I have lost,”🎶 and a choke tightened in my throat as memories unleashed an old familiar story from the dusty archive of my mind that I couldn’t ignore.  

It wasn’t “The Tennessee Waltz,” but it was a dance with songs like “Lady,” “Being With You,” “Woman,” “Slow Hand,” and “Keep On Loving You” that glistened under the disco ball. I happened to see my friend just like in the song, and I introduced her to my guy. Unlike the song, they did not dance. For some reason, she needed a ride home, and I did what a good friend would do. I begged my boyfriend for a favor. He didn’t say, but his face grimaced with displeasure. Yet, he agreed to give her a ride. Despite my gut feeling, I was delighted and grateful to have such a sweet boyfriend who would give my girlfriend a ride without complaint. He seated her in the backseat of his Celica hatchback and me in the front passenger seat. His unusual quiet filled the cabin with a dismal chill of silence that rendered me unsociable. 

To my surprise, my boyfriend drove me home first. I was too stunned and shy to ask why. Maybe it’s just me, but I expected him to drop her off first before taking me home. The clicks from my heels tapping on the ground replaced unspoken words on our brief walk to my door. We stood a foot apart and stared into each other’s eyes on the porch, searching for answers to different questions that never got asked. He leaned in and softly kissed my forehead and said, “Goodbye.” I watched him turn and walk away as if in slow motion, and the scene faded into the fog as they do in the movies. I have no recollection of what happened after that. I never heard from or saw him again. I have to give him credit that he did say, “Goodbye.”  

I saw my girlfriend in school from time to time. She didn’t have to say anything to confirm my suspicion. I knew. She smelled of his shampoo. We remained friends into early adulthood, but we never spoke about the elephant in the room. Eventually, we three went our separate ways. I say this because she married some guy I don’t know. And, you probably figured it out, she is not one of my BFFs. 

It’s sad. I can forgive pretty much anything, but I need words. I need to understand. Neither he nor she gave me the respect of answers, and that’s sad. It tells me a lot about their character. He was my first ghosting before I knew about ghosting. It would have been nice had he told me what wasn’t working, even if it were the dreaded, “It’s not you, it’s me,” or “I’ve fallen for someone else,” or “this is not working for me,” or whatever. At least give me the respect to know that we were breaking up and why instead of just saying goodbye. And now, I know just how much I have lost—nothing, unlike she did in “The Tennessee Waltz.”

Posted in A Moment in My Life

“Too Many Memories”

A Moment in My Life – Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Jeannie Yee Davis

Not everybody likes purple. For years, I was a closet purple lover. Donny Osmond was the only person I knew who openly owned his love of purple. I love Donny, but I wasn’t brave enough to stand on this side of the closet door. Did it make it right or wrong? Who’s to say? There is no right or wrong answer to this color question or pretty much for anything else that requires a preference, including memories. Who has enough clout to determine what and how many memories we should have on this planet? 

I want to know. Why? Because someone asked me this question recently. He asked me when was the right time to offload his wife’s things that he had tucked away after her passing. I didn’t feel qualified to give him advice when I had everything of my late husband’s right where he left them. 

A couple of months after Mark’s passing, I met with my high school girlfriends, who, in their attempt to console me, one suggested that I needed to move away. My mouth dropped, and I nearly fell off my chair at the food court as I blurted out, “Why? Why do I have to move away?” She said because there were too many memories. Her words slapped me in the face. I had been fighting PTSD, which left me an empty slate. I struggled to recall the teeniest memories with Mark, jotting them down as quickly as the memory returned before they vanished again. So, hearing her suggest that there were too many memories felt like she punched me in the stomach and flipped my insides out.

That lunch was a learning one since I was the first widow in our group, and we were having our minted discussion of the kind. And, it made sense why she suggested such a disturbing idea. For her and her husband, death was final. Once the person is gone, they no longer exist. There will be no service, no burial, no pictures, or anything except a cremation. They will destroy any footprint of their existence, and there will be no mention of them again. Life moves on for the survivor. I left that gathering heavyhearted with a dismal sadness, but I finally understood why she did not attend Mark’s Celebration of Life. Her way wasn’t easy to fathom, but who was I to judge? 

There is no right or wrong way. We don’t have to agree, but we need to understand where we are coming from and bridge the gap. It is essential to communicate and share our feelings and thoughts, which helps to respect each other’s views. Some might want to forget all or select memories, while others don’t want to forget a smidgen of memory. Some people remove all personal effects even before the funeral.

In contrast, others tend to these months to years later or never at all. I’m glad there is no one-size-fits-all to address this. Same with mourning. There is a time to mourn and heal, but the healing needs to happen. It is imperative that we eventually move on and live and live fully. Life is not a dress rehearsal. Every moment we remain in mourning, we are not living. 

I told my friend that he would feel it when it was the right time for him. Until then, nobody decides for us when it is time to move on or that we have too many memories.

Posted in Reflections

Globfly’s 41st-Month Angelversary

Today marks Globfly’s 41st-Month Angelversary—three years and five months since he relocated to heaven on 12/17/18.

One of the things Globfly enjoyed was Taco Tuesday. I was oblivious, but he kept track. National Taco Tuesday isn’t until October 4th, but since Globfly’s Angelversary lands on Tuesday this month, I’m gonna make this Taco Tuesday. He would love it. 💜

Globfly, I meant to join you on Taco Tuesday one day, and I tend to keep my word. So, better later than never. Here’s to you, Globfly – Happy Taco Tuesday!

ILYVVVVM. 💜🖖👊

Posted in A Moment in My Life

“Where Are They Now?”

A Moment in My Life – Monday, May 16, 2022

Jeannie Yee Davis

I’ve been nostalgic after my marathon phone chat with my BFF, who moved away from the bay area over twenty years ago. We talked and talked and talked as if there were no years between us, but we were catching up on our hectic week. That’s what close girlfriends do. The long chat made me miss her more. If we lived closer, we would most likely be popping into each other’s homes. Or we’d probably have each other’s key. Twenty years is a long time. The beauty of these years is when a friendship can survive the test of time. In this case, we survived the years, scheduling future marathon calls on our calendars. We also began planning a trip together. Oh, such exciting times ahead!

Thanks to Facebook, I reunited with my best friend from elementary school, and we are FB friends today. She is as beautiful a person as she was sweet when we were kids, and she has an equally lovely family—just having her in my life again overfilled my heart with joy.

Not all relationships resulted in happy endings, which got me thinking about some of the people from my past who made an impression on me, but we never saw each other again once we parted. Occasionally, they pop into my mind, leaving me wondering about them. 

In second grade, a little Italian boy named Luciano was not only oh so handsome, but he was extremely mature, intelligent, very well-behaved, and super polite and friendly. One day, Miss Roberts announced his extended absence due to a tumor growing in his brain. Tumor? What’s a tumor? I imagined a little tree growing out of his head. I never saw the tree or anything for that matter. Luciano never came back to school. A week later, he passed away. I never forgot him. I wonder what he would’ve been like today. I imagine he would’ve had more FB friends than anybody I know. I still miss him.

Suzie, the rebel in my fourth-grade class, scared me straight of any future wrongdoings I might have considered. Thanks to her constant backtalking that ended up with a leather strap across her bottom and tears streaming from her eyes, I never got into trouble. I wonder what became of her. I hope she used her rebellion for good and not for harm.

Remember when two team leaders chose players for their softball teams? I sucked at sports regardless and was always one of the last kids chosen when there was no other choice. Boys took their sport seriously, and some of them threatened to beat me up because I missed the ball. Out of nowhere, my hero, Donald, the tough guy with a soft heart in sixth grade, blocked the mean boys and talked them down, saving this damsel in fearful distress. As a kid, I didn’t know to thank him properly, but I never forgot him. I often wonder where he landed. I hope he is doing well. Maybe one day I’ll get to thank him.

Do you ever wonder about people from your past? I do. I get nostalgic and often think about them. I moved around growing up, which made it harder to stay connected, but I hold people close to my heart. Wouldn’t it be nice to reconnect with people from your past? I would love it, but I haven’t been fortunate in finding them, so all I have are memories and my curiosity that leaves me wondering, where are they now?

Posted in A Moment in My Life

“Would You Want to Know?”

A Moment in My Life – Friday, May 13, 2022

Jeannie Yee Davis

You may have heard of the old proverb, “Curiosity once killed a cat,” which was intended as a warning to avert unnecessary curiosity. A quote from the movie Finding Forrester always pops into my mind. “It’s not a soup question,” which means you don’t need to know since it’s not personal to you (my paraphrase). I tend to be over-curious, but not enough to get myself into trouble, which leaves me hanging and wondering because it’s not a soup question.

The other day in my morning devotional reading, the subject of how much time we have left in our life surfaced. One thing led to another, and the next thing I read made the hairs on my skin shoot straight for the moon—a suggestion to check out deathclock.com, which is supposed to tell you your exact expiration date. Whoa! Like Gallagher would say, “Totally new concept!” How is it possible for anybody or any device to determine our D-date? Is it real? 

I wasn’t sure what to think or what to do at that moment. A part of me wanted to run as far away from my screen as possible, while the other part took it as an adult and did not let on that it made an impression on me one way or the other. Sure, I’ve been curious often, but that was as far as my curiosity goes. I did absolutely nothing about it, just like now.

It’s such a bizarre concept that I’m even nervous going near the link, fearing touching it and accidentally spinning the cycles toward the end of my lifespan. Honestly, for a 16th of a second, I considered the idea of maybe wanting to know. It wasn’t even wanting to know but the possibility of wanting to know. Then, the practical me woke up. 

What purpose does it serve to know? I could see learning the gender of an unborn child, which makes preparing for their arrival that much smoother. That’s logical and practical, saving on returns and exchanges and having neutral themes and color schemes and two lists of names. But what good would come from knowing the number of days we have left? 

If knowing my expiration date would spur me to achieve my life goals by D-date, that might be worth knowing. What if, however, I learn that I have very little time left, and there was no way I could accomplish everything or even anything? That would be depressing and a killjoy. But, the long and short of it, knowing me, the answer would not serve me well. Regardless of the amount of time on my dance card, I would internalize it and spend way too much of my precious time pondering the results instead of living my life fully and joyfully.

There was a time when I thought I would want to know. Contemplating the opportunity in my face, I realized I’d be better off not knowing and just living my life day-by-day, thankful to wake up to see another sunrise. It’s more meaningful to have the peace of living today as if there is no tomorrow while dreaming and trusting tomorrow will never end. In other words, enjoy life’s journey one day at a time with a heart filled with hope that anything is possible. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter the end date because some things are better left undisclosed. What about you? Would you want to know?  

Posted in A Moment in My Life

“A Funny Thing Happened to Me”

A Moment in My Life – Thursday, May 12, 2022

Jeannie Yee Davis

Wise people toss advice at us left and right, going in one ear and out the other. Particles of their words fell behind like stardust sprinkles affixed to our minds and revived when we least expect it. Like the other night, after posting my column, I turned on the TV. The Dubs and Grizzlies were warming up for game 5. I scrambled to heat my breakfast for dinner and pitter-pattered to my makeshift dinner table, or if you prefer, the coffee table in front of the TV. With eyes trained on the screen, not missing a move, I plopped onto the toss pillows on the floor, picked up my fork, and began woofing down my food. 

I hungrily bit into the Beyond breakfast sausage, alternating between kale and cremini scramble bites and the whole-wheat English muffin. Remember the advice not to watch TV while eating your meal, or the part about not rushing, eating slowly, and paying attention to what you’re eating? That was good advice had I heeded the warning.

I’m not sure what happened, when, or how, but something went down the wrong pipe. Like it or not, my body threw itself into a coughing fit—its survival mechanism to dislodge the alien, foreign object. At first, I was not alarmed, I’ve done this before, but since my status quo changed, I attentively made a point NOT to let myself be in this predicament again. Even the best-made plans go haywire if you’re not paying attention. I’ve luckily always been able to remedy this kind of situation. This time, however, for a scare, I wasn’t so sure.

Momentarily, I wasn’t even sure where the obstruction was since I was coughing so violently. I panicked. I sprung upright and began pacing, hoping for relief with every cough. It wasn’t happening. More water did not improve my situation. I still could not feel where the debris was. Now, I was alarmed. I’ve never had it this bad. I always knew where the culprit was, giving me an idea of how to dislodge it. A thousand thoughts rippled through my mind, including how they would find me. You know how people say, “my life flashed before me”? I went down that path for a smidgen of a flash. 

I replaced those melodramatic, unhelpful thoughts with what I recalled from choking scenes. Initially, it felt hopeless without another person. It’s so dreadfully scary being alone when you’re choking. I can entertain the idea of having an iRobot standing in the corner, waiting for activation at a time like this. Sans that option, I quickly had to think before becoming a statistic. I reached back as far as I could and slapped myself on the back. Oops, not a good move! Now I know where the object was—right smack at the center stage of my windpipe. “Houston, we have a problem!” I just blocked my windpipe! I can still breathe but cannot squeak a sound! Slapping again made it worst. It was freaking me out! I banged on my chest—no go. I tried to make a sound—nothing. I was still breathing—a good sign. I gently tapped on my chest. Kept breathing. I kept testing for sound. Gentle tappy-wappy on the chest helped, giving me the idea of vibration. So, I kept tapping and included vocal warmups in various ranges. Little by little, my voice strengthened. The audio vibration moved the object along, and I live to sing another day and tell you about the funny thing that happened to me.

Posted in A Moment in My Life

“Moments in Time”

A Moment in My Life – Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Jeannie Yee Davis

The U-Haul truck slowed to a stop across the street. I lifted myself taller, peering out the window, inquisitively surveying the possible destination of the U-Box. I confirmed my suspicion that my neighbor was going through with his plan a moment later. Two years ago, he mentioned they were thinking about downsizing, and now it appears that it was time to act upon it. This realization tugged at my emotions. I’m not a fan of change, even if it’s not personal. The funny thing is that I am changing every day, in small, subtle ways, which I can handle. The big changes? Not so much. However, God has already given me many significant challenges, and I survived them. Maybe I need to rethink that.

Anyhoo, I like this neighbor. Over the years, we’ve become friendly, which is unusual for this neighborhood where everybody comes and goes behind their steering wheels. At most, we offer each other a wave of the hand and a warm smile as we pass by. Life has a way of keeping us distant from one another where we could go years without interaction. Still, the thought of them moving away chokes me up. They have been here for over a decade and a half. We had many moments of sharing and getting to know one another, but only when our paths crossed. We have each other’s contact information, but I seriously doubt we’ll stay in touch.

There is a time for everything. People come, and people go. That’s the unofficial rule. Contrary to my desire, we can’t expect anything to stay the same. The only takeaway from life is moments. Everything we do is a moment in time. Nothing lasts for long. People toss the word, forever, around like a ball. I am guilty as charged. Nothing is forever in this universe when you get down to the nitty-gritty. There is an eternity, but not until we reach heaven. Until then, all we have are moments in time.

I took my wedding  vows seriously. Forever meant until our ticket to heaven. Alas, a marriage is only forever as long as both shall live. Meaning we should cherish every moment we have together for what it is worth—no more, no less. Tomorrow is not guaranteed. 

The same goes for all relationships. We have no control over what the future holds. Plans change. People go their separate ways, willingly or not. This uncertainty has taught me to make the most of every opportunity to live well and spend as much time with the people I love. I’ve had people laugh at my 3.5-hour lunch or phone call. But why is that funny? I love being with my peeps. 

There is never enough time to be with everybody, but I will make the most of it. With the pandemic looming over us, safety is imperative but social media and the good old phone have allowed me to stay in touch with most people. If I can connect with my peeps, that’s all that matters. My peeps float my world. As long as we continue to create moments in time that will last for eternity, as we know it, I’m a happy camper until we can meet in person and share grub and a hug and converse face-to-face. Time and space may separate us, but we will always have moments spent together wherever we go. I don’t take that for granted because moments are a gift from above. In the end, all we have are moments in time.

Posted in A Moment in My Life

“Be Real”

A Moment in My Life – Monday, May 9, 2022

Jeannie Yee Davis

“Nobody is themselves at the beginning of a relationship,” she said to her friend. 

Her friend responded, “Do you really believe that?” So goes the dialogue in the Hallmark movie, Right in Front of You. This conversation fueled the topic of first impressions that have been playing in the forefront of my mind lately. This scene was the marshmallow on my S’more.

Is it true that nobody is themselves at the beginning of a new relationship? Scary. It borders on the online relationships with sight unseen. People could make up who they are or who they want to be, or simply who they wish the recipient to believe they are. In other words, fake, phony, liar, or what have you, comes to mind. 

This topic kept popping up recently, giving me a reason for pause. In one conversation with a friend, he said his first impressions of people were always wrong. And now I see why. A few days later, I was on the phone with a friend who didn’t sound like her usual self. I was curious but let it go. Eventually, I got my answer. She was at her new boyfriend’s apartment. Ah, got it. The tone of her voice was soft and Vermont maple syrup, not that her familiar voice wasn’t lovely, and that’s my point. She always sounded fine to me, sweet and pleasant, but she upped it a notch in the presence of her new beau. She also dolled up her word choices. Again, she was fine without the upgrade. She is one of the most confident, independent women I know who doesn’t need or want a man to complete her. Yet, here she was assuming a persona, not hers. I remember applying the same upgrade myself, but that was to impress a guy back in my school days. We all did that, didn’t we? The question is, why? Why did we do that? 

There are too many reasons why. It’s individual. It’s subjective. The universal answer is that we don’t think people would like us for who we are. I’ve been guilty of that thought even as we speak. Some bad habits are, plain and simple, hard to break. Most people aren’t aware that they do this, to begin with. We picked up from observing the people around us doing it. It’s just a way of life. Time has taught me there is truth in the adage about kids saying and doing the same things they observed their parents saying or doing.

I’m no different. Bad habits riddled me that I assumed from growing up years and life. I did many things I’ve seen people around me say and do. Each time I did it, I kicked myself. I got angry at myself a lot—every time. I did not want to be like them. It scarred me and became ingrained a part of who I was. I did not like the person I became, so why would anybody else like me? At the time, I didn’t know better. So, like everyone else, I projected a persona around other people.

I’ve spent my whole life not liking the person I was. One day I decided enough was enough. I didn’t know then what I know now, but I didn’t want to keep playing the games that people play, so I began redefining myself and ditching those bad habits. It isn’t easy to do, but doable. It took me an extremely long time to figure out who I am, who I was meant to be, and who I would like to be. The important thing—I can become the person I dream of becoming.

Here’s the thing that I’ve learned. Most of us learned to believe that we can’t change our stars and must remain who we are. Even today, I’ve had people tell me that they don’t like who they are or like their lifestyles, but they aren’t going to do anything about it because it’s too late to change, or worst yet, they believe they were born to be as they are and can’t change. After attempting to encourage them to try, I leave them alone. I can’t change anybody but myself. 

I believe that if I am not happy under my skin, then I need to do something about that. I refuse to believe that we are stuck with the person we are. It’s like being with someone you can’t stand. You better believe that I’d be distancing myself from that person. Why subject me to unhappy surroundings? As the old saying goes, You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you. That includes me, myself, and I. Life is too short not to be happy in all circumstances. In my case, there was only one option: to redefine myself into the person I could like. Here’s what I believe. Instead of projecting the persona I want others to see, why not become that person now that I know who I am meant to be?

I’ve long believed in finding good out of a bad situation. Covid has isolated us from the world, but some takeaways will always have my gratitude. One area was getting to know me better. Once I did some spring cleaning and removed as many twigs, weeds, and dark matter, i.e., bad habits, that bogged me down, I discovered the real me. From experience, I can tell you that it is never too late or impossible to change who you are or your life. After all, people change careers often, many times in their lives. So, if you could do that, why can’t you redefine yourself?  

Let’s make one thing clear. Redefining yourself means changing who you are. It does not mean pretending to be someone you’re not. I’m learning something new about myself every day and adding my discovery to my makeup, and I like the person I am becoming. The takeaway from the new me is that I am content and happy more often than kicking myself and scolding myself for backsliding into old ways that didn’t work for me. 

I am determined to put the real me out there at all times and feel comfortable with the person I am sharing with the world. And that person is a person I would not be embarrassed to introduce to someone. The bottom line is to be the best person I can be and to be the real me at all times around everybody, not just a cute guy I’m trying to impress. We should always be true to ourselves and be real with everybody. It sure makes life easier. Many people have said, “what you see is what you get,” but was that true? Perhaps to some, they believe it was. Most people want that, but I doubt they were speaking honestly. My point here is that if you’re not completely happy with yourself, feel free to make some changes. Life is short. Don’t be stuck in a rut. Get to know yourself. Learn what works and doesn’t work for you. What made you happy as a kid may not do it for you now. We are constantly changing, so we need to keep redefining ourselves to stay true to ourselves and our paths. The first impression we make should be lasting—not just a show but to be real.

Posted in A Moment in My Life

“Feeling That Loneliness”

A Moment in My Life – Friday, April 22, 2022

Jeannie Yee Davis

You never expect it, but even the perkiest person alive has triggers that entrap them into the deep dark dungeon called loneliness. I’m speaking from first-hand experience where I could remain alone for long periods without feeling lonely—the pandemic is my evidence. The truth be told, I rarely feel lonely. I don’t allow it. I keep a rigid schedule with no opportunity to go down that rabbit hole. IT COMES FROM NOWHERE when I feel lonely—unexpected, unwanted, unannounced, uninvited, unwelcome, and un-whatever else you can think of to add to my list.

Everything in life is a choice. There is an array of reasons, or excuses if you rather, that could justify my lying on the couch and crying my eyes out all day long. Someone told me that she didn’t call the first couple of weeks after Mark’s passing because she knew I was busy lying on the couch, crying my eyes out all day. Whoa! Totally new concept! Where did she get that? Does that sound like me? Plausible as this may be, those who know me cannot imagine this scene, but I didn’t make it up.

If I didn’t have social media where I entertain myself with many friends every day, I believe I would feel the isolation of loneliness. I would’ve gone nutty all alone day in and day out with nobody to interact with except me, myself, and I. After a while, I’d run out of things to tell myself. I’d get tired of hearing the same old stories. I could see myself getting cranky with yours truly, and the daily dialogue would sound like this, “You told me that already,” or “How many times are you going to tell me that?” It is such a blessing that I have a few friends who talk with me regularly. We developed this friendship pre-Covid, and it continued through the pandemic, and those relationships, along with a few new ones, are the ones that keep me balanced, even if only cyberly. It’s priceless having people in my life physically. Still, I don’t believe I need the physical presence as much as I need some social human stimulation, which means electronic communication works just fine—the important thing is having someone other than myself to communicate with.

I have no clue how people without a cyberspace presence who live alone, especially during the pandemic, do it. People are the key to keeping the world bobbing along on our journey for survival. I value my alone time but treasure my people time. Thank God I don’t have to choose one over the other.

Loneliness is entirely subjective. No two experiences or triggers are the same. As I said earlier, I need some form of communication contact with humans, whereas a friend of mine must have physical people contact. She lavishes real hugs, which are neither right nor wrong, just preference. She becomes Spiderwoman, scaling the walls if she goes too long without her hugs. 

I wasn’t kidding when I said no two experiences or triggers are the same—not even with yourself. Again, I am speaking from first-hand experience. Once your status quo changes, it is safe to say that anything goes. Save yourself the headache of expecting “the familiar.” There is no longer “the familiar.” A better plan is to expect to have a good time but be open to whatever that resembles. You may go through a bit of culture shock as I did at the first wedding I attended as a single. I sat at a table with friends I’ve known for over two decades. Friends who we double-dated often. As wedding receptions go, a lot was happening in this ballroom. High energy and excitement filled the atmosphere, with people mingling everywhere. I was laughing and having a good old time with everyone around me when I glanced at the couples at my table doing what couples do—reminiscing the playful advances that Mark and I shared, and sudden loneliness paralyzed me. My heart raced as if I needed to escape, sending a winter chill to my limbs and summer heat to my head. The words, “I shouldn’t be here,” reverberated between my ears, misting my eyes. It was such an unsettling sensation that swept through me. A friend asked me to snap some photos of her and her kids, shaking me out of my self-pity mode. The lesson I learned that day was not to internalize what I see, and keeping busy, is the answer to preventing loneliness from creeping in. Enjoy being with the people around you, and making the best of the situation is the better plan.

The other night, I had a phone call with a girlfriend, and it was delightful as always. We did our usual thing by starting one topic, segueing into another, until she needed to hang up an hour and a half later. As soon as we said our goodbyes, loneliness sank into me like a granite block. From where did that come? I just got off a long and enjoyable call. How is that logical that I felt so devastatingly lonely suddenly?

This loneliness reminded me of the day three years earlier when Cousin Karen and I took a three-and-a-half-hour lunch break at Jack’s, where we leisurely talked and ate and talked and ate. The only reason we left when we did was not to keep the servers waiting. I couldn’t have asked for a better time. I felt joy from head to toe after she dropped me off at home. As soon as I walked inside, and secured my front door, the pleasure I felt a second ago was thrust out of me by the forceful loneliness that replaced it, leaving me standing at the entranceway feeling as if I had stepped into a dark, dank dungeon. There was no yesterday, no today, and no tomorrow in view, just a dark, hollow void. Again, this was illogical. Where did this loneliness come from when just a moment ago, I was having the time of my life with a beautiful person who I love dearly? 

That day with Cousin Karen was the first time I experienced deep loneliness after a good time. Months earlier, I suffered from PTSD, which meant feeling any negative emotions was expected and logical. When it’s unexpected, like after a joyous event, then it makes no sense. 

I don’t have all the answers, and every case will be different. Yet, I wanted to understand why this happens when it does, and then it hit me. The commonality between these two episodes was that I was exhausted from a lack of sleep. Forever, getting enough sleep was the least of my worries, but as I get older and go through more trauma drama, I appreciate the importance of maintaining a good night’s sleep. Everything is so much better after a good night’s rest. When unrested, my body is cranky, regardless if I am aware of it. I have trouble remembering things, such as the right words, which is death for a writer. I tend towards oversensitivity and so on. I’m glad I don’t get these episodes often despite the fact I struggle with sleep. I’m thankful I know that lacking sleep could trigger loneliness. Hopefully, maintaining good sleep habits will prevent me from feeling that loneliness.