It's all about shrimp scampi, crusty bread, and a large icy Diet Coke. The newspaper, the crossword puzzle, and a new novel to start. Do I need lunch companions at my table? Nope, already have them.
I awaken early and know that there are no binds on my time today. The grandchildren are at a (shudder) water park in Wisconsin and the Alzheimer's unit has clocked me no hours today - hey, now, none of that - you know I work there. My mother is gone and there are no doctor appointments, rides, or chocolate ice cream to share with her.
I grab a diet Coke from the local Hardee's. They took away my cigarettes, and they can take away my whiskey, but they cannot, they will not take away my diet Coke.
I head for the flood wall for an early walk. There is a small patch of blue sky behind my right shoulder and the rest of the horizon is ribbons of grey, heavy clouds. My cyclist bro Davie Gie pulls up behind me and I question why is he on this tame sidewalk instead of out in the wilds of the prairie country. He says he plans to do 40 miles on pavement and 60 miles on the gravel. I am in awe of the man. We know we are alike as we spend a disproportionate time each day involved in physical activity. Bro says it is the introversion, the endorphins that keep us going. We prefer to be alone and we want to be moving. A psychologist I saw during the last days of my first marriage asked me what I liked to do. I ticked off my reply: reading, swimming, walking. But those are all solitary tasks, he commented. Yep, I said. Not the last professional to see me as odd.
Tony Roma's for lunch. And the new waitress, a young woman who does not know me says the same thing all the others have said before her. "You know dear, there is a lot of chiptole in this dish and it's very spicy. " I always smile and say, and don't we just love it. I want to read while I eat. And this is why I eat by myself. And yes, did you see me in this very same restaurant Friday night with Cowboy Dave ordering this very same dish? Yes, you did. I am known as the Shrimp Scampi Lady by the veteran wait staff. Never order anything else. At the Athenian Grill I am the Soup Lady. Another story, another time. Wait staff love me. I know exactly what I want. I require no refills or additional service once the meal is brought and if there is I do it myself. And I tip heavily.
To the pool. The lady water bouncing next to me asks, "Were you at the cathedral this morning?" I can give her a definite no on that one unless I was there to see the architecture. "There was someone there that looks just like you." Odd. Two nights ago at the Rewind Rock Concert this homely little man in a Hawaiian shirt and suspenders comes up to me and says, "I saw you at the reunion." Now I was at a family reunion two weeks ago so I nodded and he sat down next to me. Shortly thereafter, I realized he was talking about a high school reunion that I had not attended and I did not know him from a garden gnome which he strongly resembled. And then I couldn't get rid of him and the people I were with made fun of the situation and he kept looking over at me every time a slow dance started. Don't you just want to go home? I don't really like people that much. They tend to be nosey, rude, and dishonest. Children make much better companions. Thomas Edison, a famous recluse, once said, "Just how many times does someone actually say something interesting?" He had a knack of leaving his wife's soirees by complaining that his poor hearing could not keep up with the conversation and then he would spend the evening fishing on his dock.
I have been exercising to the extreme since my mother became ill earlier this year and I realize that if I overwhelm my senses I can dull the grief that is lying just under the surface and threatening to break through. Exercise fulfills this requirement as does driving too fast in my car with the windows up and loud, loud music. Sitting in a movie theatre with a noisy, complicated film playing does it, too. And yes, I go by myself. Not having to share my nacho cheese and pretzels is reason enough.
While checking out watermelons in the produce aisle an elderly lady comes up to me and says, "Are you all right, dear?" Well, I put the melon down and just left the store.