i was recently on an airplane and had up a conversation with a mother of three from franklin, tennessee. it started when i pulled out a book.
“now what’s that you’ve got there?”
“oh, this? it’s a trekking guide for mt. kilimanjaro in tanzania.”
“oh my. are you going to do that?”
“that’s the goal- this time next year.”
“well then, you must be single.” we both laughed.
“happily.” i replied loud enough so the eavesdroppers could hear. it was an airplane, of course there were eavesdroppers.
so here i am bringing it up again. i’m single. it seems cliche to bring it up so near cupid’s birthday (wait, that’s what valentine’s day is, right? or it’s saint valentine? another holiday based on a religious something or other that none of us actually know anything about but eat chocolate and exchange gifts in celebration anyway *cough* christmas? easter? bueller? *cough cough*). but i feel the need to bring it up again because it’s always on my mind (not just when hallmark reminds me).
it’s always on my mind because of women like the one on the airplane. or my grandpa. or my high school friend i run into at the grocery store. i’m constantly being reminded that i’m still single because everyone and their mom (not my mom, she seems to get it, but everyone else’s mom) are constantly reminding me. it might be a gentle look they give me, or a quick “you’re still young – enjoy yourself.” but no matter the approach, i’m single, and it comes off as being a bad thing.
i’ll be the first to admit that i’m terrible at dating. i’m shy and unsure and uncomfortable. i question everything- motives, hair styles, text message meanings. it’s torture. then i get to know them, and usually find a way out because i’m afraid of committing or he’s afraid of committing or both of us forgot how to spell the word “committing” and we move on. i’m just not good at it. i take responsibility for it and it’s something i need to work on.
however, it’s my prerogative to be good or bad at dating. if i really cared about it, i would probably pluck my eyebrows more often. but why should i? guys don’t pluck their eyebrows (or not the guys that i’m interested in) so why should i? we all choose what’s important in our lives. if i was bad at driving (which i am), i guarantee my childhood friend in the grocery store would not ask me, “how’s that driving coming along? don’t worry, you’re still young. you’ll figure it out.”
so maybe i’m no casanova (female equivalent?) but i do have a college education, live by myself, make my own income that pays my own bills (telephone bills, automo’ bills, etc. thank you destiny’s child super bowl halftime show comeback) and have been doing so since the ripe age of 19. i climb mountains, get promoted at jobs, and have stable healthy platonic relationships with multiple people. i consider myself overall happy and fulfilled in my life. but since i’m not married, or on that track, then i haven’t really succeeded or so i’m told with the looks and comments of reassurance that “it will happen for me, too.”
it? did you not see the part about the autmo’ bills? look people, i’ve already got “it.”
this constant unwarranted reassurance puts me in defense mode. people tip-toe around it. i get accused of being a feminist (btdubs, which part of “equality for all” are we still not getting?) then i’m constantly trying to reassure others (including airplane eavesdroppers) and inevitably myself that i am happy.
as for all you love birds, i am not bitter or jealous. i love boys. i love girls who love boys. i love boys who love boys. i love gushy romantic comedies. i cry every time i watch the notebook. still. i know in the end she doesn’t remember who he is, and i cry every damn time. if you want to get married, get married! if being with another person makes you happy, then i couldn’t be happier for you. i even recognize that some day i too may star in my very own gushy romantic comedy. but for me, for right now, i would rather spend time getting to know myself over getting to know anyone else.
that’s my prerogative.
during the plane ride, mrs. tennessee and i chatted for quite a while. she was returning from seattle where she visited two children, two children-in-laws and three grand children. she talked about her only single daughter who lives in jackson hole. she said her daughter doesn’t make a lot of money, but she gets to work on her travel photography which makes her happy. of course, mrs. tennessee wants her daughter to find a man and settle down. she laughed and said, “that daughter of mine, she’s sure kissed a lot of boys.” i laughed too, and thought about how similar this daughter and i are. i then talked about all the trips i’ve taken, the mountains i’ve climbed, and the jobs i’ve had. i told her about my design work, and making my sister’s wedding dress. i told her all about my mt. kilimanjaro trip and why i moved back to colorado.
at the end of our chat, she looked at me with a big smile. “well” she said, “what a life you’ve lived.”
there are countless experiences in my life that i wouldn’t have had the guts to take if i was in a relationship. i’ve quit jobs, moved states, walked for hundreds of miles, and explored foreign worlds. i’ve found first loves and kissed strangers and met people who changed my life. being single doesn’t mean that i haven’t lived and loved, it just means i’ve chosen a different way of living and loving.
of course in the end (like all good mothers) she was right. i must be single. just take a look at my eyebrows.
(disclaimer: babies. fortunately for me, i am young. i don’t have to worry about my clock ticking. in fact it’s so far down the road for me, i can’t even hear my clock. i don’t even know if it’s ticking. i mean, i hope it is, just for you know, health reasons, but it’s not on my mind (i’m regularly thankful for NOT being pregnant). but i know for many women it is a real concern. if you want to have kids (your own kids) i will admit that being single makes that difficult (some would say nearly impossible). you need a man or at least his manhood and you’d prefer it come from someone who can at least spell “commitment.” but here’s the thing- for those women who do want kids and are feeling the pressure of age, they do not, i repeat they do not need to be reminded that they’re still single. trust me, they are well aware.)