My best friend growing up was a black-haired little girl whom I adored. We went to the same church, we lived less than a mile from one another, and when I think of my youth- it is impossible to not see her face. Together, along with her younger sister, we created rock bands, played detectives, and even were so obsessed with the show Sister, Sister, that we would pretend to be the twins (I was Tia, she was Tamera, if you’re curious).
We took dance classes, joined Girl Scouts, went through confirmation, and played outside on her tire swing until her dad made us go inside for the night. She was the first person I ever talked to about boy crushes and her name is scattered among the pages of my very first “articles” and diaries. Our names are even painted underneath the deck at my childhood home, stating that we’d be friends forever.
At one point, I distinctively remember one of our conversations and we decided that by the time we were 21, we’d be finished with college and we’d be married, and have a baby by 25. I would be living in New York, of course, and she wasn’t quite sure where she’d be. We were so certain on this path that we wrote it down and we dreamed up these ideas of what we thought our husbands would look like, what they would do, and what their names would be. If I remember correctly, my man would be an architect, he’d be tall with dark hair and blue eyes, and he’d be named Brian.
I’ve yet to date a Brian, so perhaps that may still come true.
But as I sit here, past the age of my projected marriage, but not quite to the baby deadline- I realize how unprepared, how unready, how absoultely terrified I am of actually being married. I’ve never thought of myself as someone with commitment issues and I really don’t think I sincerely have them- but when I think of saying “Yes, Mr. Standing-in-Front-of-Me, on this alter on display to everyone I’ve ever known and complete strangers, I will spend the rest of my life with you. No matter what. I promise. Scout’s honor” – I feel like I’m going to be sick. And really, all I want to say is “Dearly Beloved….I’m afraid I don’t.”
However, that friend did end up getting married to a guy she loves, and is living in our hometown, moving up the ranks at her job, enjoying her new home and new puppy. We don’t talk very often, but I was happy to be part of her wedding before I moved and we stay in touch from time-to-time. I’m thrilled that she found someone who she knows is Mr. Right for her and she’s satisfied with her life, and sometimes, I wonder why I’m not ready for that.
This year alone, I’m invited to six weddings and I hope to attend most of them, if not at least send something from the registry. And my very best friend from college, L, got engaged over Christmas and for the first time, I’ll serve as the coveted Maid of Honor. While I’m incredibly happy for all of my friends and admittedly stalk all of their photos - I sometimes can’t understand why there is such a rush to the alter. I mean, at 22, 23, and 24 – do we really even know ourselves yet? How can we marry someone else when we aren’t even sure of what is that we want for our lives in the first place? Or maybe I’m the late bloomer who missed the flight to marital cloud 9.
When I think of my weeks spent writing these blogs, going to work for the 9 to 6 grind, attending events and fancy parties, and happy hours with friends, I realize how selfish of a life I really have. Every dime I make is geared towards me (or secure in my savings account), every decision I make is based on what I want and what’s best for me, and my plans change as often as the subway schedules. I’d rather buy a new pair of shoes than to buy a gift for a man – even when Mr. Possibility and I were at our finest - and if I don’t feel like cleaning or washing or saving money from the week’s paycheck or working out, I don’t have anyone to answer to but myself.
And really, I love it.
I’ve spent all this time obsessing, worrying, wondering, hoping, praying, and dreaming for a man to walk into my life and be my end-all-be-all. For him to take away all of the negative baggage, the disappointments, and the trust issues I have from guys from the past. For him to “rescue” me from a single life that for the longest time, I absolutely abhorred. But now, for whatever reason, it is more appealing to me than the life I imagined as a 10-year-old playing make believe under my favorite Oak tree.
As a single woman (or really just any woman, relationship-oriented labels be damned) – I think we get so caught up in this portrayal of a wedding, of happily ever after, of the romantic illusions of until-the-end-of-time that we forget that marriage is serious stuff. It is a lifelong commitment. It is promising not only your body to one single person and your heart, but vowing that every decision you make from this point forward will be dependent on what another person thinks, feels, wants, and needs. While I’m hopeful that the man I ultimately marry will find me beautiful at 60-years-old, the reality is that when you decide upon forever walking down that aisle, everything, including the love, will get old. The flame will weather in the wind, it will come and it will go, and there will be moments where even though you love the person you’re married to – you may not like them very much.
And the same can really be said about the relationship you have with yourself. There are days where even though I’m working towards loving me-and-only-me, I feel bad about decisions I’ve made and I don’t like the person I see staring back at me in the mirror. Each and every choice I make, where it be to take the C train or the B train in the morning or what to eat for lunch or if I should be texting back a guy I’m intrigued by – affects my life. Maybe not in huge ways, but in ways nonetheless.
For me, at my age, at this point in my life, with my career just starting to blaze forward – I can say with full confidence that I’m not ready to be married. I’m not ready to have that feeling in my heart-of-hearts that tells me this is the guy for me. I may long for a compainion and I may be able to imagine having a exclusive boyfriend, but I know saying “I do” isn’t in my near future. I missed my projected marrying age, so now it’s up to me to decide what my second-chance age will be. And that ring finger that I used to look at, picturing a rock on, looks awfully good naked and bare. While I’m sure my mother and currently-smitten friends will tell me “you’d change your mind if you met the right guy tomorrow” – I can say that right now – I truly, really, honestly, don’t want to be engaged.
And guess what? That’s really just fine by me. If that isn’t progress, I’m not sure what is.