Wednesday, November 18, 2009

My Hardened Heart

My Hardened Heart

© 2009 Celeste Billhartz

 I’m not sure when it happened, exactly. I just remember thinking, “No more Mrs. Nice Guy” ... no more trusting, accepting, smiling, etc. No more automatic acceptance of strangers, automatic friendliness, auto-anything.

 Is this what happens to old women, living alone? Do they just get fed up? Do they stop trusting? I sure have. I’m nowhere nearly as friendly and gracious as I used to be ... all in less than a year’s time. Sad, I know. I dare not greet the world with an open heart, anymore. That can’t be healthy for me, nor for the world. I used to be so nice to people. I just dare not; not so much as before.

 I won’t enumerate the specific events ... business co-mingled with personal ... that brought this on. Suffice to say, I trusted .... trusted too soon. My bad. My naivete. It won’t happen again. I have learned the lesson. I will do better, will be better.

 Still, I am forever changed, finally grown-up, I guess. I know I’m not so damaged that I can’t be polite again, or fun-loving again. I just won’t ever be so genuinely trusting. That’s sad. I can feel myself getting cold and distant. I can feel the shell closing over my .... my ... what? ... my ... sweetness. Yes, that’s what’s gone.

 Not one new person in my life will know that sweet me. She’s gone; probably, to some dreary, silent place for old women with hardening of the hearteries ...:)


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Aging Alone

Aging Alone

©2009 Celeste Billhartz

 I am 70 years old, live alone, have friends, a family of cousins, a decent retirement, pretty good health, a car, activities I enjoy, and a volunteer commitment I take seriously. And, I’m lonely.

 Why am I lonely? How dare I be lonely??           

 I think Loneliness is still in the closet ...:) I find that many people are quick to tell me what to do to not be lonely .... volunteer! do this! do that! They don’t know how to just .... listen. They want me to fix my loneliness, they rush to tell me what to do. So, I stop talking. I smile, and I listen to them ... I ... listen .... to them. I am losing hope of ever finding someone who will just ... listen to me. I think half my loneliness is for want of a listener. 

 One of the true pleasures I had when I lived in my house “out in the woods” was going outside about four times a day to feed walnuts to the squirrels and birds. I will have to find a handy place to do that here, in the city. I will find it. I will find some squirrels and birds to toss a few walnut pieces to ... and I will ease my loneliness. I will fill my need for good-giving.

 I love purposeful work, thus, I volunteer. Also, I love to sing oldies. I am asking around for a pianist or guitarist to accompany me. I emailed one fellow who had been recommended ... but, I wonder if his interest slipped into amusement when he read that I am 70. I’m just saying ...:)

 I am also putting together a program of poems and stories, songs, to share with local groups. Not everyone in the theatre/performance business I approach for advice is helpful ... or kind. I think there is an underlying ageism/sexism going on here. Really. I think if I were 30 and asking for advice I’d get advice. I suspect if I were a 70 year old man, I ‘d be heard with more respect. What I am getting are verbal pats-on-the-head and assurances that .... ha ha .. no, you don’t need a publicist ... ha ha ... you just need to put some things together and put on a little show in your living room for friends, then go to some poetry slams ... and get the word out to some senior centers ... just get out there ... just do it! 

 I wonder how many other old women have talents and desires to perform and are not taken seriously? How many just shut up and never tell anyone else about their wishes and ideas? I wonder how many old women I pass on the street or see in the grocery store or in the coffee shop go home to their apartments and houses and stare at their closets filled with binders of poems and stories and songs they will never get to read or tell or sing? I hope each of them will read/tell/sing a few pieces to someone, anyone, before she passes from this earth. It’s that important to her. It really is; she really is ...:)