I’m having my first guests over in my escape apartment. They’re three of my sisters by choice. They have been with me through the worse of the worse, available when Grief bitch slaps me, and offer their hands to hold as I navigate through this nightmare. I owe them so much and breaking bread with them seems like a good start.
I am settling into my escape apartment. It’s only been a week and I’m still figuring out the location of the lobby, how to get through the maze of a grocery store, what light switch turns on what light – I have to remember the closet light is NOT my bedroom light – and my surroundings. It’s a good thing I worked downtown, or close proximity, from the time I was fifteen, until my late twenties. The bars, restaurants, department stores, and transportation have changed, but the streets remain the same…with one or two new ones thrown in for kicks and giggles. I can’t really get lost. Lower Wacker is a whole different nightmare, but if I stay where the non-vampires go, I’m good. There is a lot to see and do down here. Yet in the city of possibilities and offerings, I find myself lonely.
Everything I can do, should do, want to do, I have to do alone. I went to the diner to write yesterday, alone. I took some walks these past weeks, alone. I almost went to happy hour with half-off appetizers, alone, but I couldn’t. And while some people do this all the time – there are millions of single people in this world – I haven’t done the alone thing for a long time. And well, it’s lonely…very lonely.
I was telling a friend of mine last night that Peter had always been my security, my fallback, my knowing I truly wasn’t alone. When Peter was alive, I liked doing things alone – going to the movies, eating at a restaurant, writing at Starbucks, going on walks, even driving on the expressways. I needed to live an independent life outside of Peter. He needed time away from me. Yet we always connected during the day, mostly at night, via texts or phone calls or in-person snuggles. I knew he was there for me. I always knew no matter what I was doing or even facing alone, he would have my back, and we would reconnect.
This is what took away any of my loneliness – to know and feel I had my forever partner in my life. As I got older and the kids moved away, friendships changed, family relationships shifted, this became even more comforting, more important, more joyful. His being there for me gave me the courage and the security to move forward because if I fell back, he was there to catch me. Knowing I had a forever best friend in Peter, gave me the courage to end some unhealthy relationships. And now? Well, now, all of that is gone because all of Peter is gone.
I hate this starting over. It exhausts me. I don’t know who I am anymore and I don’t want to know, especially when I spend a portion of my day wanting the old me back. I want Peter back. I question my decisions, especially ones that test me and my life now, as it is. Yet here it is…and here I am, the fighter I want my kids to see and be proud of. The fighter I want to be and, eventually, look back and say, ‘yeah, I did it again’, and do an inner dance of victory. But I am just battling now and the light at end is still very dim.
At times during this week, I questioned my move to my escape apartment. The move, even in this short week, has challenged me in ways I have never been challenged. It has given me a new fight. It has me climbing up a vortex of this swirling widowhood with pushes to get out of my comfort zone, the comfort zone that is now only a memory. The move has given me much more time with myself and with that, the loneliness, but also the befriending of someone I don’t quite know yet, me. It is strengthening my resolve…as if I haven’t enough exercise in it these past four months…but more so, much more so. And it has shown me the possibilities of what is yet to come. In my bad moments, I hate all of it. And in those moments, I sit with it, cry with it, and then move away from it, figuring out what and how I can do to continue on.
I’m not sure how this escape apartment will work for me. I won’t call it a mistake, now or ever. Someone told me she likes to call the moments I tried moments. I like that. And I am still trying. I’m not giving up. Way too early to walk away from something I know will teach me, show me, emerge me, in so many ways. It’s not in me, never been in me, to walk away one something is too daring. Besides, I have to remember all this birthing of a different me, without Peter, will be hard and painful and lonely. Birth and growth do not happen without pain and always alone. I do have the choices of retreating or facing it head-on, or a little of both, or a lot of both and all at different times, and at the same time, in this confusing maze Peter’s death built.
I continue to reach out to friends and family. I continue to write, the best escapism I know. I’ve already made plans with friends for lunch and after-work cocktails down here, by my escape apartment. I am signed up to do a Trivia Night and to join a writing group downtown. And, yes, I will do all of this alone, but eventually, in time, I think the fighter in me will remind me doing things alone will not always be so damn lonely.