Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Sunday, May 11, 2008


"It is strange to be known so universally and yet to be so lonely."
-Albert Einstein

Spouse and I stood in the clinic two weeks ago and filled in numerous and numberless forms that gave our vital information to the new doctor.
We were there for routine check ups; a double payment, double the wait, double the hope that this time our doctor would be a wise and helpful person, one who cared.
As it turned out she is the kind that makes calls afterward to follow up, and makes them personally.
No silly jokes from her, either.
Our last doctor laughed at Spouse, chucked him under the chin and said, "so, you're not dead then."
We decided right there to move along swiftly and into an era with a serious and honest doctor.
As we stood, then, completing the paperwork, we reached the portion of our respective documents that asked for names of next of kin. The nurse noticed our hesitancy as our pens hovered, synchronised, over the pages.
"That's just in case something happens to you while you're out here today. We need a contact number and name."
Still we wavered. Pitifully, the thought crossed my mind: could we write one another's names? I looked at Spouse. Spouse looked at me. We were thinking exactly the same thing.
It turned out that we could not use the other's name because we were both present and for logical reasons the office administration wanted a third party to be on the list.
We were fortunate to be able to come up with the name of a friend but in an enlightening moment we realised that we were no longer in California where most of our friends live and where we were not a bit isolated.
There, we experienced conversations that started from the air, about nothing, with perfect strangers: people wanting the company of other people. That was our measure of California and our experience of a close society.
I am fortunate these days if a fellow walker on the bridge obliges me with a grunt.
There is certainly a good deal to be said about community, and neighbours taking care of one another.
Loneliness met us in a doctor's office, breathed delicately down our necks and reminded us of the perpetual human need for people.


julochka said...

well-put, tho' there is a sorrowful undertone. and i totally relate, as it reminds me very much of my solitary train trips in to the city in the morning. there are just some places where apparently the human interaction is minimized to the point of despair.

i'm lucky that where i am right now, i get a solid fix of many friendly people and every person you come across greets you with a "good morning" or "good afternoon" or "hello ma'am." when i first visited the philippines, i was so accustomed to denmark that it was taken aback by it, but now i feel very be recognized and acknowledged by fellow human beings.

i must remember to do it when i get home, even if the cultural pressure is against me. thanks for writing this to remind me how important it is! :-)

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Julie, your comment was so well-thought out and meaningful. everybody wants to be acknowledged. Being forgotten about and having no place in the world is a dreadful thing to come to terms with.
A simple "hello"- makes all the difference.
Thanks for your thoughts.

dennis said...

Dennis needs human companionship on the hour.(this would include being petted and told he is pretty) and food of course. roast duck for example.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Dennis, roast duck sounds very good. Roast duck with a friendly person for dining company...nice.

Jaime said...

Hugs to you. I know that this is a different world, this blogosphere, and we aren't here for you in the physical sense, but in spirit, I smile at you every day when I come read your stories.
I understand loneliness as well, having moved to a city where I knew no one. I still find it hard to connect, being somewhat shy. It doesn't help that I do not work with peers my own age.
I think each one of us feels this to some extent. They say no man is an island, but sometimes I question that.
Much love

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Jaime, thank you so much. You seem like such a lovely person and your comments are something I look forward to.
The blogosphere, I think, is the next best thing for shy people in cold-hearted cities :) It doesn't replace human interaction but when there's a sad lack of that, such thoughtful words like yours do help to ease it.

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