My father died in August of 2007 after a six-month battle with cancer; yet even before his passing, before the cancer ravaged his gaunt, shriveled, and lifeless body, I felt I had been orphaned in my adulthood. And while my mother, stepfather, brother, and two sisters are all still alive, I believe I am psychologically abandoned on the basis of my unmarried status. In an emotional sense, I have been forsaken, left behind, separated from the rest of the functioning, procreating human race, exiled to the island of lonely misfit souls.
This lingering malaise developed in my advancing years simply because I failed to secure a bride. Meanwhile, all of my colleagues, co-workers, peers, and friends from high school and college have managed to pair off, branching out and extending their families with the addition of wives, husbands, in-laws, children, and grandchildren. I, on the other hand, remain a solo strand on a withering, fruitless tree. And at age 38, I must now accept and endure this perpetual bachelorhood like a prison sentence.
I believe men are meant to have women, and women to have men, and when this natural equation is unbalanced, an absence grows within that remains unfilled.
For the spouse-deprived man or woman, his or her death is never mourned, because no one is left behind. It is a silent death punctuated by a sense of loss that is final. There are no heirs squabbling over the summer cabin in the Adirondacks.
As I see it, I have only two choices. One – find a good woman, get married, settle down here in central New York, and become like everyone else. The other – contingent upon failing the first – is to flee my home and take up residence in one of the nation’s major cities – New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Francisco. Pick one, any one, just not Detroit.
Because if I am to remain alone, I want to live in a city where no one knows my name, where I won’t run into any old friends who are brimming with wedded bliss, where the couples walking by me on the street are only strangers, and where I can no longer be haunted by the familiar surroundings that failed to produce a happily married life.
Indeed this choice sounds cold and selfish, but in truth, I am in this world with only me. I am an orphan, a man alone, making decisions for a family of just one.
However, I also realize sometimes hope has a way of egging you on, provoking you and not allowing you to give up, even on yourself. So I often wonder: ‘What does it matter when you get married – at age 23 or 45 – as long as you pick the right girl to settle down with?’ So maybe there’s a chance I am not an orphan, as originally suspected, but only a late bloomer. And perhaps this prospect might allow me to embrace the future as opposed to dreading it.