As I move through each day, it’s becoming more and more apparent that my entire existence is spent inside a bubble of sorts. Not a physical bubble, of course, but a societal bubble. A personal static warp field, if you will. (Yes I’m a nerd).
Whatever you call it, the end effect is isolation.
I really started noticing it last year. I mean really noticing. Not just noting times that I feel alone or lonesome, but being aware of a consistent daily pattern. And lately it just keeps presenting itself, even as I make concerted efforts to be social and active.
It’s almost like I’m invisible.
I have interactions with work colleagues, but it’s all necessity driven for the business. Otherwise, I’m left alone in my office. Not that I so much mind this, as I don’t like where I work or most of my coworkers. But still, sometimes it might be nice to have some more social moments at work to break up the monotony.
But there isn’t that interaction, so I spend a good nine hours of every day in a solitary manner.
Most nights I go to the gym– where nobody makes eye contact with me and I have very solitary workouts. Yes, I realize that guys at the gym are in a zone and exercising, as am I. But even fellow gays don’t return my smile or nod– they just pass by as if I’m a ghost.
And then they stop to chat with other gays.
I notice the invisibility continues as I walk through the skyways, malls, grocery stores, etc. Nobody makes eye contact or interacts. Some of this I attribute to people being glued to their phones.
But heck, I also find myself in an exclusionary bubble at choir, band, and volleyball. Sure there’s a natural isolation created by the fact that we’re busy rehearsing or playing a game– but at breaks or afterward? Unless I make a strong effort to walk up and insinuate myself into conversations, I will pass through these times sitting off to the side.
The harshest spotlight on my isolation happens at gay bars. Bars have never been my preferred milieu, but I kid you not when I say I can be at a bar that’s packed and still find myself with a good three feet of room around me. A sort of “no fly zone”. I watch other people flirt and touch and laugh easily. What’s their secret?
Now I’m fairly self aware and I’m continually analyzing myself until I’m in an echo chamber of ego-crippling self deprecation. And noticing my isolation brings up SO many questions.
Am I isolated because I secretly want to be? Ive examines this and no. I want friends. I like hanging with people and playing card games and generally being social. Maybe not all the time, but I do.
Is this just part of aging and gay life? Or some bizarre ripple effect from the loss of lives during the AIDS crisis? Again, probably not. I see guys my age in relationships and with a cadre friends.
Is it Minnesota? Maybe. It does tend to be hard here to make connections. But other people do it.
Then I start examining my potential flaws.
Am I scowling? Giving off an unapproachable vibe? Do I have “bitch face”? I don’t think so because I consciously put forth effort to smile and make eye contact and to relax my body language. But maybe I’m not schooling every micro expression?
Inevitably I spiral into “am I too fat? Too old? Too grey? Do I smell?” I mean, it must be something, right? And yes, I’m not “body ideal”. But I work out 5 days a week to improve it.
Or maybe… just maybe… it’s the fact that no matter how hard I try to put myself out there and how many activities I get involved in, I can’t hide the fact that I’m lonely. It still shines through somehow, and that is what pushes people away like some inverse patronus charm.
I don’t think I can fix that.
And that concerns me most of all.