Wikipedia explains that Schrödinger’s Cat “is a thought experiment that illustrates a paradox of quantum superposition. In the thought experiment, a hypothetical cat may be considered simultaneously both alive and dead as a result of its fate being linked to a random subatomic event that may or may not occur.” That’s how I feel about my loneliness, if it even exists. Schrödinger’s Loneliness.
Obviously, in the case of a single middle-aged woman, the random subatomic event that causes or does not cause my loneliness is — say it with me, kids — whether I got married and had children. By all metrics, I should be lonely because that never happened. But I’m not. Which is a surprise but also not a surprise.
Don’t get me wrong, I have dark moments. A few months ago, I got my first colonoscopy, and while I was laying on the gurney — pre-drug cocktail — my blood pressure went through the roof and I started to cry. The nurse looked alarmed. One minute I was chatting with her about her terrorist Yorkie, and the next minute I was hiccuping with tears. “What’s going on, hon?” she asked, “I told you this was a perfectly safe procedure.”
How could I explain the feeling of knowing that no one was in the waiting room to drive me home, and that I had spent $200 on a car service to take me back and forth? How could I explain that my parents had aged to the point that asking them to drive was impossible, that I had no siblings, no children, no family to help me? That I was in a way, utterly alone, that when my parents died I would be the last vestige of our family? How could I explain that this made me feel like I was floating in an ocean — on a life raft, sure — but with nothing on the horizon.
How could I explain that if you took this fact to its logical end, there are inevitable images of me falling and hitting my head, and no one knowing about it, except maybe the dog. Didn’t she see the Six Feet Under episode in which a single, lonely woman died by choking on a frozen grape? That’s why I’m crying lady.
Sure, I have friends who offered to drive me and pick me up. More than one, in fact. But I didn’t want to ask them — it seemed wrong, somehow illegal. Like there was some unwritten rule that it couldn’t be that easy to be…