never married, over forty, a little bitter

the cleaving

I can already tell my life is going to cleave into “before this job” and “after this job.” It’s going to be intense. I’m struggling physically to meet the challenges of ten-hour days and multiple demands and have had to make some tough choices already as far as friendships go.

I told an acquaintance here “no” in terms of being an audience member for her (again) because it would have involved an hour drive somewhere, problematic parking, and several hours sitting in a theater for an event I cared little about seeing. She got snippy and the friendship, such as it is, is probably over. I have another friendship here I value, but this person likes to go to high ticket/ high trouble events, while I prefer low ticket/ low trouble ones. Because it’s unreasonable to think that we should always do what I want to do, I agreed to one of her choices this weekend and spent three hours in heavy traffic and, in total, six hours on the endeavor. I’m numb with exhaustion. I can’t keep that up.

The “non-relationship” man in my life, the one who is sweet and has been there for me in other ways, continues to want to hang out, but I’m at my breaking point there too. He is acutely sensitive in many ways, but had he committed to a relationship years ago, I most likely would not have made the last two brutal moves alone cross-country. In this current job, I have minimal time for socializing, and the little time I have feels like it would be better spent forging new connections that could provide more practical support. I can see the end there too.

On a more positive note, I did finally have that coffee with my favorite writer, and we had lots in common. Don’t know how that will evolve, if at all, but it was interesting to hear him say that he has few friends in L.A. and struggles to make connections. He has seriously considered moving back to his smaller city of residence, a city that is much like the one I just spent nine months in, but he has the same reservations about it that I did. He’s quite successful, so it seems that it’s L.A. that’s the challenge.

He’s also childless, and we discussed the challenges of friendships with friends who have kids. He joined a book group so he would again have people to discuss books with!

high prices

America’s top-heavy distribution of income and wealth, the Corse and Silva research details, has left many economically insecure Americans “unable to imagine being able to provide materially and emotionally for others.”

Amid this high-stress reality, adds Atlantic commentator Nancy Cook, marriage “is fast becoming a luxury good.” People who can’t afford the investments that help keep marriages together split and sink from the middle class. The nation becomes a more unequal — and lonelier — place.

For that loneliness, we pay a heavy price.

“Air pollution increases your chances of dying early by 5 percent, obesity by 20 percent,” as Aditya Chakrabortty observedlast fall in the British Guardian. “Excessive loneliness pushes up your odds of an early death by 45 percent.”

Those figures come from University of Chicago neuroscientist John Cacioppo, a veteran researcher on social seclusion. We have, he writes, created “a culture of social isolates, atomized by social and economic upheaval and separated by vast inequalities.”

If we want to find love, in sum, we need to go looking in more equal places.