Saturday, March 03, 2007


If you watch Grey's Anatomy, were you struck with the question that Addison posed near the end of the last episode? She and Alex have been working with a woman injured in the ferry crash; her face is significantly damaged making IDing her difficult and she has traumatic amnesia. For those in her real life, if must be as if she got on the ferry like every other day and simply vanished.

Nobody is asking about a friend or family member that matches the details they do know about MysteryGal. It's haunting the two doctors, though Alex's laundry list of the all things he knows about patient X was warm and touching. I wonder he will grow to love this woman from the inside out...then lose her to her real life. Ahhh... a digression.

Knowing MysteryGal, however, makes Addison wonder about her own life:
If I simply vanished, would anyone notice??
Her question haunts me because Addison seems connected to people in her world: to Derek, McSteamy, Alex, to Callie O'Malley.

And it haunts because, I'll admit this, I wonder all the time if I simply vanished, would anyone notice??

When I was younger, suffering from more psychic angst than I do today, I would imagine myself jumping on a Greyhound bus some Friday evening with one suitcase, heading away from my life and simply vanishing. Starting fresh somewhere else as someone else. I'd leave all the bad things behind me and be reborn a 20-something babe in a new town.

I'd possibly even change my name. Something like Gretchen. There aren't enough Gretchens in this world.

I never knew where I would end up, but the town usually looked a whole lot like Reno, NV. A place I had not seen, except perhaps in a TV show, and didn't have a name for. But when I drove through there a few years ago, I knew that Reno may have been that imagined destination.

Or I could have followed my Great Uncle Otto's lead and headed to San Francisco. But that's a whole another story about someone who vanished.

Wherever I ended up, I'd imagine myself finding some small apartment over a shop and starting new life. It might even have been a remarkable life. I'd have made my own family from the people I came to know every day. For my old friends and family, I would have vanished; for myself, I would have been reborn.

That bus trip never happened.

Looking at my life right now, though much of that plan has come to be. My remaining family knows very little of my life except which state I reside in. My old friends have all slipped off the radar. The life I'd lived has become a mere memory; so, in some small way I have vanished from my old self. Except for Reno and Gretchen and the small apartment and the family.

Especially the family.

That was probably the thing I was seeking most. A place to fit in that felt like home. A place where everybody knew my name. People who felt like family. You see it all the time on TV and in the movies. I haven't found it to be true much in real life. I yearn for those who care and would keep me from vanishing.


Back when I was single and living alone, there was one week when I sick. I had a really high temperature and could barely get out of bed to drink some water for two days. I could not think clearly enough to call into work sick. Heck, I couldn't shower or cook or call a doctor. We all hear the stories of co-workers who notice someone isn't at their desk on Monday morning and call to check on them. They worry; they call apartment management or police just in case. They need to know that their co-worker is alright. That didn't happen for me. They gal I worked with assumed I was just being irresponsible (she obviously did not know me); and everyone else assumed that she knew what was going on. I vanished (for two days) and while people noticed, nobody acted upon it.

Obviously I've been thinking about vanishing and belonging for a long time. It's different now than it was back then, though.

I spend way too much alone. I drive alone almost everywhere; I spend much of my time alone in my house. I am seen by the store clerks and gym members, few of whom know my name or would wonder about my absence. I'm a transient cypher to them.

I do not do this by choice.

It just happened.

Have you noticed how difficult it can be to make new friends when you are older than 20-something? Right out of college, we are all in the same boat: trying to find our place, make our way, and we bond with those around us. Then lives move on. We might marry, have children, join a church. We find our spot in our community. Lives fill up. As an outsider, it's more challenging to try to shoe-horn my way into others consciousness. Forget their lives. With no children, no church, and an fairly anti-social spouse, I'm also left confused about how to build community.

And I fear vanishing.

I wonder what people would say:

"She didn't tell me where she was going, so how should I know she was missing?"
"I only see her once a week, I just assumed she was busy with something else."
"I figured she blew me off."
"How could I know?"
"Who? Oh, her... don't know..."

A few months ago, some of the women on BlogHer were talking about the freedom of travelling alone (sorry, I cannot find the link). I've read (and love) Linda Ellerbee's book on the subject (and if you haven't read it yet, DO!) and I truly envy those with the courage to do so. I yearn for that independence. But one thing stops me:

I fear that I could vanish.

I asked them how they felt safe travelling alone. How they made themselves feel safe. How they knew they wouldn't vanish. The common missing link that these women were all strongly attached to others. Others who would know.

Knowing. The missing link.

They all admitted certain safety nets: membership in AAA if they were travelling by car. A reliable cell phone. And people who expect to hear from them regularly. Sometime it was family, often it friends.

Surprisingly, these were seldom Real Life contacts that protected them. They were the brother who emailed at lunch at day and expect a reply, or a friend who IMs every few hours.. and expects a reply. Friends who would miss an email in the morning and act upon it.

People were safe because their online life was rich and active and people would miss them HERE much faster than they would be missed in the physical world. Jeez, I don't even think I have that.

Yet I've taken their tips as guides. I'mdeciding to get that AAA membership and updated my stupid pre-paid cellphone for a more modern model . The rest of the solution, however, is elusive to me.

And still slowly I vanish.

photo credit: LensENVY on Flickr.
Check out my other blog: Deb's Daily Distractions

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