I was dying to start my life - the scar on the right side of my neck proves it. Born more than two months early, I weighed in at a whopping 3.3 lbs. A tube inserted through my neck was the only option to feed me. Did it hurt? I do not remember but the scar now serves as an ironic reminder that at one point I was feisty, determined and undeterred by time. The next thirty years whizzed by and compared to today’s deadlines (marriage, mortgage, minivan), diving into the world early seemed a lackadaisical feat.
Over thirty years later, I am far away from settling down. I am without a plus one, a partner and a teammate in the game of life. Former classmates and close friends surpass my own life's expectations. They travel in twos while I fail to shake the single file line that follows me everywhere. Curled up in my one bedroom apartment, I follow Facebook – a bulletin board for all that I desire. Endless wedding photos, Ex’s new born babies, Effortless smiles. Each click cuts me deeper. Loneliness and rejection dig into my insides, leaving invisible marks. Do these wounds hurt? Nobody asks.
I project a beacon of happiness as I nonchalantly laugh off my latest dating mishap. Friends offer clichés of encouragement: Stood up again? It’s his loss. Run into an ex with his new girlfriend? Everything happens for a reason. Another dateless wedding? You will find love when you least expect it. Love may be a generic battlefield but this pain is personal. I joke about my revolving door of potential suitors – the one who deducted years off his age, the one who suddenly stopped calling, the one who just wanted to be friends. If you’re laughing maybe they won’t feel sorry for you. I pretend not to notice my phone’s unrelenting silence and the empty event calendar that hangs, unused, on my fridge. I drop subtle clues that I am hurting but my plastered smile waves them away. It serves as a shield for the invisible gashes.
Friends and passersby ask while strolling past me, “How you are?" Lonely. I’m tired of spending my days alone. I am plagued with worry that I will be alone forever. A future family feels out of reach. “I'm great." Generic questions seek convenient answers. And my struggle between conveying the truth and the expected continues.
Romantic interests take notice of the scar on my neck. “How did you get that? What happened? Can you feel it?” I find their concern amusing. How can a decades old mark garner so much attention? Yet the latest inquirer left our last date with a wink followed up with an, “I’ll call you.” Then he disappeared. I am no stranger to this abrupt act of disregard but each time, the wound grows deeper. If we ever spoke again, I might inform him that he was worried about the wrong scar. The scars hidden beneath the surface are the ones worth asking about.