Alienation Beast

beastYears ago I wrote a poem. About feeling lonely and trying to connect with others. I was newly married and had recently moved here, to Highland Park, New Jersey. I remember being invited to a family’s house for lunch, where they talked finishing basements and second grade teachers. My husband still jokes about finishing basements as the boring suburban topic that scares off singles and newlyweds. What do you say? Now that we have gone through two renovations in our house, we’ve been able to participate in such discussions. But in front of our single friends, we make it into a joke. So they will laugh and not feel alienated.

Getting back to the poem. Which I cannot find. I created this character called the “Alienation Beast.” This beast crops up every now and then when I am in crowds of people. You may have met this creature yourself! My mother, z”l (may her memory be a blessing) used to say “lonely in a crowd.” It’s sort of like that. But a beast is much more of a vivid description for me.

I decided to add a new category to my blog called “trying to connect.” Because that’s basically what this is all about. And I imagine I will talk about the “Alienation Beast” in future posts, the same as I talk about “Nutrition Nerd” in food and health posts.

Once you have children, it is easier to make connections in suburbia. Many of our friends here seem to have a son the same age as my middle son. With the parents of my daughter’s classmates, it is a stretch at times. We are both in our mid-forties. Many of the parents in my daughter’s grade seem to be in their twenties? My guess is there is a cultural gap, too; we went to a class on the poet and “anti-philosopher” Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi last night…these parents talk about shopping at Nordstrom and who they know from Brooklyn…OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little to make a point.

7 thoughts on “Alienation Beast

  • I know what you mean about the age gap. We have friends of all ages, but it is a bit disconcerting when so many of our daughter’s friends’ parents are a decade or more younger than we are. Still, that is less of an issue than the suburban culture, which I feel quite alienated from. Don’t get me wrong-I love to shop–but I do feel culturally lonely out here and, at the same time, out of it when I go to my old cosmopolitan stomping grounds in NYC.

  • Your “Alienation Beast” post reminded me of a lyric on a mixed tape my brother made me circa 1981… “I’m all alone in the middle of a crowd, I open my mouth and scream a silent shout”.

    For years this lyric has been floating around my head… now with the magic of google, I just found the song! I am playing it now for the first time in over 20 years. Turns out it is “Flesh and Bones” by “The The”. Wow.
    Here it is:

  • I take issue with the claim that it’s easier to make friends in suburbia once you have children. Middlesex County is a very eclectic area, and the best way to make friends is to join groups and clubs of people who share your interests. I’m happily single, and the Internet has made a world of difference in helping me find such individuals and groups. The whole idea that you have to have children to be part of the community is a harmful stereotype that is long out of date.

  • Laurel, you are talking about people outside the Jewish community. I find my closest friends are within the Jewish community, because that’s where I feel I belong.

    I’m sorry to hear you find Judaism outdated.

  • I don’t find Judaism outdated. I find the notion that everyone has to have children and that those of us who choose not to have them are somehow second class citizens outdated. I have many friends in the Jewish community, and they live a wide variety of different lifestyles. In these groups, there is no sense of not belonging or being left out because one did not give birth. Jewish groups should not be pushing one way as the only way or they will alienate a lot of people.

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