Needing to belong 5/15/19

By Richard Bleil

The drive sure was long. Thirteen hundred miles round trip, there in one day, I had to stop halfway on the way back. It was just too much.

I was fortunate to reconnect with a very special friend of mine. Nothing of a romantic nature, but she’s very important to me. It was a great visit, and a powerful reminder that I don’t belong.

She is married, has several children, is now a grandmother, has always lived in the same city, built a career for herself, and it goes on. It seems as though so many people want nothing more but to get away when they are young. Some of us succeed, but, I guess the question that you have to ask is the cost of that success.

Today, I am more or less homeless. I know, I’ve discussed this frequently, but now, perhaps more than anything else, I long for a sense of belonging.

Less than a week ago, I had a job interview, the second and final stage of interviews. I’m waiting to hear now, and I keep thinking “what if…” If I get the position, I would very much like it to be my final position, a job with an institution that I can support, and that supports me, in a community where I can finally put down roots, get involved, and finally belong.

But, what if…I don’t get it. Let’s be real; I could easily be one of about eight different finalists (based on the scheduling for the interview), so the odds are against me. So, what if? The reality is that I have experience, education and training that should make me quite valuable, as a legal consultant on forensic testing, accreditation consultation, editing of chemistry textbooks, freelance writing, inventing and more. This is an interesting option because I could move anywhere to do this, but, I should move to at least someplace near a larger metropolitan area to make it easier to build clientele.

So, I find myself thinking…where do I want to move, to feel like I can belong and become involved in the neighborhood?

It’s an odd thing, really. I honestly don’t know where I would want to move, but it’s odd that instead of thinking of where I can best use my education, the question I keep asking is where I can settle in.

I can’t help but wonder if there is something wrong with me. I look at my friend, and all that she has accomplished. The funny thing is that she doesn’t see it. She honestly believes that I am the one who is accomplished.

Something else has recently happened as well. As it turns out, there is a woman who has made me feel like a man again, an actual, living, breathing, sexual human being. This doesn’t happen much, I must admit. She also has me thinking that maybe I could still be a father.

I always wanted to be a father. It never seemed to be in the cards. I could never find a woman willing to spend time with me for more than, typically, a few weeks before moving on. Now I’m closer to sixty than fifty, and my colleagues are all becoming grandparents. If I had a child tomorrow, I would be in my seventies by the time s/he graduates high school. But, is it too late?

I understand the Picasso continued having children into his nineties, but, what kind of a father do you suppose he was? I can’t imagine having a father who could break a brittle bone playing “catch”, but, I think I have a lot to offer a child as well. Could this be part of the roots I want to cultivate? Is it possible to find a woman young enough to have my child and wanting an old man like me in her life? Yes, I could “get her pregnant”, but to be honest, I would far rather find a life partner, a wife, a mother with whom to raise the child.

Old fashioned thinking, no doubt, but it’s who I am.

So now what? Life is a funny thing; we never know the best path to take. A comedian once described marriage as two people realizing they won’t be able to do better at the same time. Quite cynical, to be sure, but is it possible this is what it is? Maybe I passed too many times because I thought I could do better, not necessarily on relationships since typically I was the one being dumped, but on cities, jobs, career paths. Could I, do you suppose, stop worrying about a career, have faith in what will be, and just find a place to be happy?

Me, neither.

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