Alone In A Crowd

It has been pretty rough 4th of July holiday weekend for me – a very LONG weekend at that.  My apartment is located immediately above a major recreational area – containing a harbor, pier, boardwalk and beach plus lots of restaurants, bars, etc.  You get the picture.  Of course, this is a huge holiday, right smack in the middle of summer.  Which means that families are out in big numbers.  I am used to taking long walks with my dogs and bike rides along the beach.  Usually those activities pick me up and brighten my mood.  But for the last 5 days, I have felt surrounded by people, noise, and, most difficult of all, lots of happy families.  Sigh…

Mind you, I LOVE families and especially small children.  I enjoy watching them interact and usually end up thinking about similar times or interactions with my family – my wife and kids I mean.  Until recently that was a really good thing.  But now, I tend to spiral downward into real sadness when I observe other families and think about mine.  I am painfully aware that my family, as I loved and cherished it for so long, no longer exists.  It makes even my best memories hard to enjoy.  So, the last five days have been a real challenge – inundated with the sounds and sights of happy, busy families that remind me of what I have lost.  And nowhere to go to escape it, either – it’s been crazy busy EVERYWHERE.

Today I decided to try and embrace the holiday.  It was a beautiful day and I needed exercise.  So I decided to take a bike ride, enjoy the sun, maybe watch some beach volleyball.  Well, the bike path was jammed the entire way – people riding slowly and erratically, others walking three and four wide, and just lots and lots of bodies.  Not much relief there.  OK, I dealt with that; managed to get a decent ride in anyway.  Felt a little better.  One for the home team.  Next, tonight there was a fireworks show very close to me.  My deck looks right out to the show area, but I thought it would be a good thing to take my dogs down to a big grass area where folks were gathering.  Thought I might feel more a part of things.  The park was very full, but I found a good spot, sat down, played with the dogs for a while and waited for the show.  But the whole time I was very conscious that I was there by myself.  I was surrounded by families, lovers, groups of friends, etc.  And, despite the presence of my two cute dogs (usually a sure conversation starter), not a single person spoke to me.  It was a lovely night, but a really bad experience.  Halfway through the show I headed back to my apartment – where I saw the rest of the show very nicely.

So, I’m not sure what the next step is.  I don’t want to live in the past, especially if doing  so is causing me pain.  But I have so many and such vivid memories of times I cherish – and now miss – that it’s hard to keep from being lost in them.  Most of the time I can minimize the damage.  This week I was overwhelmed.  But of more concern is my inability to enjoy those precious memories without focusing on my losses and becoming morose.  I have a lifetime of beautiful memories I want to keep whole.  I wrote a poem about this very subject.  It is entitled “Preserving The Memories” and its link may be found here: Preserving The Memories

I’ll try to be more up for my next post.  I’m glad to have July 4th behind me, though.  Talk soon.

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