By Jeanne Marie Laskas
Sunday, June 25, 2006

Laura, a co-worker, asks if I ever feel survivor guilt. I have no idea what she is talking about.

"I don't mean the real thing, like you survived a plane crash or a war," she says.

Right. So, what did I survive?

"Dating, the single life," she says. "Remember those days?"

"Oh, that plane crash," I say.

"You've lived to tell the tale," Laura says. "You got out. You moved on. But what about all the people you left behind?"

I tell her I never thought about it that way. We're at the photocopiers. I don't really know Laura all that well. Campus is pretty empty this time of year, and she and I are here catching up on paperwork, so, naturally, we're talking. She's married, I'm married; this seems to be our connection point.

"I'm in a wonderful relationship; I have two loudmouthed kids; and sometimes I can't even feel happy about it," Laura says. "Because my single friends are miserable. It's survivor guilt! Don't you ever feel that way?"

Um. No. Is something wrong with me? "My single friends aren't miserable," I point out.

"Oh, yes they are," she says.

"No, really!" I say. I mean, some are, some aren't; the distribution is probably the same as it is among my married friends. I don't know that the circumstances of life determine the amount or even the intensity of loneliness you feel.

"There's always at least one that gets to you," she says. She tells me about her one. Laura went to college with her. They were inseparable and even moved to the same city after graduating, where the friend went to medical school. "High drama," Laura says. "Everything back then was so intense, and most of the intensity was about trying to figure out guys."

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