Monday, January 23, 2012

Fantasizing Normal

This may come as a shock to you all…but I’m a talker.

I’m waiting for the collective gasp to finish.

I love people.  Always have.  I love talking to people I know, to strangers, to strange people I know (you know who you are).  Everyone has a story and something to say.  And usually I love hearing it.

I’m the girl in a 10-deep line at the grocery store you end up telling your life story to…because she really wants to know.  I’m the one who is really close to her favorite teller at the bank because the suckers are good and I like hearing stories about what’s going on in her life.  I know every detail of my hairdresser’s life…down to what her kids want to do when they grow up and how she loves being married the second time around.

Yes.  I’m that girl.

Widowhood has made that a little difficult, though, because even though I like talking to people…I hate making anyone feel uncomfortable around me.  And nothing says “uncomfortable” like “dead husband.”

I have a feeling that that added bonus to widowhood is something I will never get used to.

I was in line at Eddie Bauer the other day, talking – yes, talking – to the old guy behind me.  He’d tried to strike up a conversation with the guy behind him who obviously did not have the gift of gab and so he turned around and started talking to me (and I chose to ignore the fact that I was his second choice).  The kids had each found a chair near the front door to relax in while I stuck to my guns and stayed in a 30 minute line in order to buy a $5 scarf that I didn’t know I wanted, but in that moment absolutely had to have.  So, while they were being uncharacteristically calm…I found myself with a little time to spare.

“I remember when my son was that age,” the old guy said, looking at the kids. “He wouldn’t sit still.”

“How old is your son now?”  I asked.

“Oh, he’s in his 30s.  Graduated from the Air Force Academy and living in Hawaii.”

“Really?  What year did he graduate?”


“You’re kidding!”  I said without even thinking about it.  “That’s the year my husband graduated from the Academy, too!”

And the second it was out of my mouth, I wanted to run away.  “Please don’t ask me what he does now,” I thought.  “Please don’t make me have to say it.”  I looked over at where the kids were sitting, blissfully unaware of this conversation, and made a decision:  Should the conversation keep going, I would lie.

Yes.  I would lie.  For just a minute I would pretend that he was working in Virginia that weekend.  Or that he was home watching football.  That my life was so normal…I had nothing of interest to report.

I stood there, while the guy kept talking, my heart pounding in my ears, nervously anticipating the moment when he would ask me a question, and I would spin a web of lies, fantasizing out loud what my life would actually be like right now if things were different.  If things had never changed.

But it didn’t come.  I got my life-altering $5 scarf, said “have a nice day” to the man, and collected the kids.  The fantasy dissipated in the bright winter sun that was bouncing off the snow on the ground.  The kids ran ahead of me, anxious to get in the car and away from retail hell and I watched them bounding down the sidewalk and stopping just before they made it to the parking lot.

“What an idiot I am,” I thought to myself, as I watched them talk at once, argue for a minute, and then start smacking each other while I fished my keys out of my purse.

“My life is normal.”

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