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May 2, 2006

Honestly. I meant to write about knitting.

Tomorrow I'll give you the details of the Paris Scarf, which has little to nothing to do with Paris.

My folks are on a road trip right now in their motorhome. They stopped in Ft. Smith, Arkansas last night at a campground (my folks are motorhomers, to the nth degree) and my mom called me last night to tell me about how lovely and endearing Southerners are.

"Your dad and I set up the table and chairs, and the grill, and we were making dinner and you know how good onions smell? Well, we could smell someone nearby cooking something good, with onions.

"So we finished dinner, and then Dad and I went to take a walk to get us some exercise and see the park. While we were out walking, we met this woman who was out, too, and somehow we found out she was the one who'd been cooking onions. She'd made her husband some homemade onion rings that night, and we told her how good they smelled, and we laughed and told her how her cooking made the whole campground hungry!

"Not an hour later we got a knock on the door, and there on a Solo plate with some paper towels was a whole pile of onion rings, fresh from a complete stranger. I knew you'd love that story."

And I do.

Because I know people are people, and we all reach out the best we can, but Southerners do it with a plate of something fried or casseroled or barbecued and Lord how I do miss that feeling of neighborliness, the very notion someone would walk a mile for you, or fry up a plate of onion rings, just out of human kindness.

And so this is what I found. In the beginning, when he left, I was empty and raw like a mine stripped bare of everything good and real. And I lived each day alone, and I reached out slowly and made some friends, and as my heart strengthened up a little bit I could spend a whole night alone without emptiness and finally I could sleep.

You go so long without love and affection, so long between soft moments, and you learn that your company is good company, and you laugh at your own jokes, and you lie in bed each night with a cat on your pillow or wine lips or a good book. Life is good. You made it through the other side, even though he's shacking up with someone new, you know you're doing just fine and you make a life for yourself. You are a good employee, a good friend, a not-so-good but funny hostess all the same.

You let go.

And people say, "You'll meet someone. When you least expect it."

And you think, "I'm OK, even if I don't."

Then you meet someone, a fellow, and you remember all over again how good it feels to have someone place a hand on the small of your back as you walk to the table, how nice it is to be kissed like he means it, how much you missed having dinners for two instead of dinners for one. He touches your arm, it's a small thing. You wake up, you know that lonely is one place, you've been there, and together is a whole different set of cards. You like this hand you've been dealt. You get angry when it up and disappears because lonely: not your chosen destination. You want someone to see life with you, hug you while you wash a plate, cup your cheek with his bare hand. And once you have it again -- even if it's just for a fleeting minute -- you realize how much you need it.

People tell you to make your life full so you won't be longing for another, so you'll be complete without anyone at all. (People often say this from the vantage point of completion.) We know the truth, that it's all a walk we take, each night, each day, to connect with another human being, to feel affection and recognition, to have love sex friendship distress resolution. What's the point of being so whole and complete that you never need anyone to show up at your doorstep at ten o'clock at night, with a plate of onion rings, or a kiss, or a 'how are you?'

It isn't about being alone. There's no weakness in it. It's a great strength to say you need a little affection. It's not a bad thing to share it.

Is it?

Posted by laurie at May 2, 2006 7:42 AM