Saturday, April 01, 2006

Feeling Bad at the Burger King

I helped Susie Suburban Guerilla move today. Her friend Sid and I were heading north on the Bristol Pike and pulled over at the Burger King to grab a bite: it was in the 70s, we'd been hauling Susie's stuff down from her second floor apartment and stuffing it into various vans, trailers, and SUVs, and coffee on an empty stomach only takes you so far.

I took my receipt with my number on it, and found a seat in the cafeteria area across the room from a young mother about Melissa's age, maybe a little older. She was stunningly, vulnerably, beautiful, sitting across the table from her daughter, who looked to be about 5. The woman's hair was long and brown, with the hint of a mullet, and she had slight shadows under her eyes as she and her little girl shared their fries. I couldn't help looking at her, and when at one point our eyes met, I looked away, abashed. I could see her hands clearly, and there was no ring.

I began to feel lonely for the woman, and and then lonely for Melissa, largely alone in Quebec except for Sam, who she bears primary responsibility for. She takes him to McDonalds once or twice a week during winter, not for the food but for the play area. With temperatures of 40 below, it's the nearest indoor place where he can really get his energy out.

Melissa called the other night at around 10:30, for no reason other than she was bored. I didn't know quite what to do, but I felt lonely then too, lonely for both of us. The whole situation is lonesome. When Sam is here I don't go out; I enjoy the respite, but I can only imagine what it must be like for Melissa to be at hom ewith a 2-year old, every. single. hour. of. every. single. day. except. for. work.

I wondered if the woman across the room had a boyfriend who just happened to be somewhere else; or maybe she was divorced; was her daughter's dad around to help out? That's what hurts me most: I'm not there to help out. I am sending more money up beginning this month to pay for Montessori school for Sam, but it's not the same as splitting everything. I know that as Sam gets older and becomes a better speaker, we'll be able to make more of phone conversations, but for now, it's cold comfort.

On the other side of my table was a guy about my age, his son and daughter, and his wife. The daughter must have been clowning around, because the wife whacked her on the back and hissed at her, "Stop embarrassing us". The father ignored the whole thing; the daughter smirked. I looked back toward the single mom, who was cleaning her booth. I bagged up my fries and munched down the last of my Whopper, headed out to the car.

Around 6:30 this evening, Melissa called for some tips about roasting garlic. She's having friends over for dinner now that she has a larger apartment, making quesadillas. I gave her two different recipes, spoke to Sam for a little bit, not long enough.

I'm glad that she has friends coming over. It kills me to think that she'd be lonely.


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