The Invitation

I am doing the strangest thing. I am not going to a concert I have tickets for tonight. Chances

are that if I went to this show tonight, if I dragged my ass out of the house, found parking,

wandered up towards the front of the stage, I might really enjoy myself. No one would know in

the dark, crowded, tiny space, music so loud you can't hear yourself talk anyway, no one would

know that I was alone. They might think my boyfriend was in the john or getting a beer, or

somehow I've lost my friends in the crush of bodies. But I've lost too many friends already, to

geography, to neglect, to economics, to AIDS, to children, to marriage.

Maybe it has something to do with Matthew's wedding invitation I got in the mail yesterday.

Matthew was the last straight, single guy I knew here. Ok, he was the only straight, single guy I

knew here. Even though we don't work together anymore, I still look forward to our quarterly

martini meetings. And the thought of them ceasing to exist upsets me. But he's getting married

and they'e already moved to Woodland Hills.

The invitation was beautiful; a delicate creamy fiber paper with little green leaves on it that

reeked of all the promise of new life, but it only had my name on it. No plus one. No and guest.

Not that I have anyone to bring, but it's the thought that counts, the thought that someone,

besides myself, could see me with someone else. It would be so optimistic.

The risk of going to the wedding alone and being sat at the child's table is so daunting. Or

worse, I'll be sat at a table with young couples. Couples like I used to be until I became single.

Then, when I'd go to a dinner party, I'd end up at the end of the table, on a corner, with a

crooked place mat and the extra plate that didn't go with the set, and the odd spoon or

mismatched fork. I'd be crammed in as the fifth or the ninth on the folding chair, the one with

no arms. And I'd pretend that it was okay. I'd pretend that it didn't really bother me. But I'd

tired of pretending. Something inside of me doesn't want to go there.

Maybe it's the chill in the air, but tonight I feel like that day when I was in Dublin by myself,

sick with jet lag, wandering the streets in the rain. I took a wrong turn past St. Stephen's Green

and ended up in a bad part of town with my paranoid American brain on. I felt certain at any

moment someone would leap out of a doorway, slit my throat and steal my bag. I followed a

man with a briefcase because he looked like he knew where he was going, until he was so scared

of me he ran into a shop. I asked two drug addicts if I was headed towards the River Liffey and

they've never heard of it. And finally, just when I had given up, I saw a street sign shaped like an

arrow pointing down a dark alleyway that read To Grafton Street.

And that's the thing about Dublin. The signs never tell you where you are, only how you can get

to someplace else. And that's how I feel tonight. Tonight, I feel vulnerable. Tonight, I'm not so

sure of myself and my place in the world. Tonight, I don't know what my future is or even if I

have one. And the thought of being that exposed in public, not to anyone else, but to myself, is

too much to bear. I need a sign to tell me where I'm going. I need a sign to tell me how to get

there. I need a sign.