never married, over forty, a little bitter

hard-won lessons

Most important, I’ve realized I never needed a long boyfriend résumé for the experience. In the 20 years before I met Mark, I learned a lot of hard lessons: how to be a self-respecting adult in a world that often treats single people like feckless teenagers; how to stand at cocktail parties while my friends’ in-laws asked me if I had a boyfriend; how to have warm, friendly dinners with strangers I had met online as we delicately tried to determine whether we could possibly share our lives together; and how to come home to an empty apartment after a rotten day at work.

I realize these less-than-giddy examples may conjure up those deadly words: “desperate” and “pathetic.” But I wasn’t desperate. If I had been desperate, I would have settled for a relationship I felt ambivalent about because I was afraid to be alone. Instead, I learned to relax into the open space of my quiet home and unknown future. I also learned there is a difference between feeling something unpleasant (loneliness, longing) and being something shameful.

Being a single person searching for love teaches you that not everything is under your control. You can’t control whether the person you’ve fallen for will call. You can’t force yourself to have feelings for the nice guy your best friend fixed you up with. You have no way to know whether attending this or that event — a co-worker’s art opening, a neighbor’s housewarming — will lead to the chance encounter that will forever alter your life. You simply learn to do your best, and leave it at that.


I considered having a little goodbye gathering at my home before leaving town, but now I think, “Why bother?” My time here never really gelled; it feels more like a “passing through.”

Part of my reluctance to throw a party is that I’m also coming to terms with the fact that someone–maybe more than one person– stabbed me in the back when it came to finding a job at my old org here. I’m also realizing that the people who said they would help me find a job at their companies did so halfheartedly, if at all.

Without getting into specifics, I think there were several possible motivations: the desire to get their own friend or relative in a position; the fear of competition; the feeling that it would be uncomfortable to work with a former supervisor; the feeling of dislike for me for one reason or another. These people are my former co-workers, supervisors, or employees, and I had, in the past, hired them or helped them out as a reference or as a source of guidance. It’s been a tough lesson to learn that they wouldn’t do the same for me. When it came down to it, they opted instead to protect their own hides.

One or two did try to help, but when their efforts failed, they lapsed into silence, which hurt. Only one or two friendships here have remained untainted from this debacle.

I’ve met a lot of lovely new acquaintances, but I didn’t have the time to get to know them enough to invite them to a goodbye party.

In the end, I saved myself. I scored a top position elsewhere– still in the process of confirmation– based on my work history and excellent references from my former job.

So, sayonara to this city…it’s been real.