I was eating a nice slice of apple pie -- ala mode, in this case vanilla gelato -- and the crust was okay, better than okay, but as I thought back to my childhood, thinking of sugar cream pie, vinegar cream pie and other delights, I muttered, "I've had better." And then I added, "...But I never will again."
I won't. The women who baked those pies are gone. Home-made pie crust is a very individual thing, something that takes a knack, experience and the right kind of working area. No one's pie crust turns out quite like anyone else's.
Sometime the sadness at these little, inconsequential things can be overwhelming. Pie crust! And yet I'm moved to tears.
All but one of my Mother's sisters are gone (and there was a passel of them). All of my Dad's siblings and their spouses are gone. My sister is quite a skilled baker but we're not close. We're not friends and, for many reasons, we're not going to be; this is no reflection on her, we just can't get along. It's best we don't try.
And so it goes. Most of my friends and co-workers are gone. Many of them are dead now. I miss them. I don't make friends easily and as I have gotten older, my emotional distance has increased. My hearing has become worse, which doesn't help. I have never been really relaxed around others -- I was the odd child, the one who used too many long words, who struggled to be neat and tidy, always askew, out of step. I grew out of it but I'm always wary, waiting to be called out. Any more, the social anxiety occasioned by most restaurants or a crowded theater is too much to face alone; if it weren't for Tam, her friends and my pal the Data Viking, I'd never eat out. I can manage the market, the bank and the five and dime, as long as they're places I have already been to or chain-stores with similar layouts: it's pretty formulaic.
It's not going to get any better. We all face it to a greater or lesser extent: friends and relations thin, the popular figures of our youth and early adulthood fade away and many are largely forgotten. As time goes by, there's less and less familiar, more and more alien, and eventually, you're all alone even in a crowd.
The Greeks had it right: immortality would be a curse.
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