On this day, 25 years ago, my wonderful parents with names that rhyme promised for better or for worse, until death should they part, to support and honor one another, all the days of their lives. My mother made sure the word “obey” was omitted from their vows, as she’d never agree to do such a crazy thing, and really, my dad would never ask her to.
Nevertheless, when it has been the best of times and the worse of times, when there have been little reason to honor the other person, and when support simply was not enough – my parents have still held true to the promise they made at a tiny chapel, on top of a snowy hill a few days before St. Valentine’s arrival. As far back as I can remember, my dad has stopped in the middle of sentences to ask whoever he was talking to “Isn’t she the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen?” while gazing toward her. And my mom, even with her relentless independence and boldness, blushes when she is surprised with her favorite flower or a hidden note underneath her morning coffee. Together, with a little help from the heavens, they created me and they’ve always said that while we didn’t always have the best of everything, they raised me with the very thing that makes us the richest of all:
Once I reached the age where I realized my parents weren’t just authorities and a support system who were there to tell me what to do, what not to do, and encourage each aspiration – I started noticing their displays of affection. And as embarrassing as it is, I became jealous of what they had. Maybe even more difficult to admit – during college when men arrived and exited with ease from my heart and my bed, I started getting so frustrated around my parents, that I’d have to leave the room to keep myself from crying.
I never rained on their happily-ever-after parade and I never said anything about my envy, but I know they could see it. Before returning to school after a break, my mom would sometimes say: “Don’t worry, sweetie. When the time and person is right, you’ll find a relationship like your dad and I have. I just know it! I promise!”
But what if I don’t?
As much as I would like to stay in never-never land where everything works out just as it should, where love is always returned as strongly as it is given, and marriages actually last until one of their dying days – I do live in the real world. More specifically – I live in Manhattan. While my friends, the Southern belles are in a knock-off stiletto race to the altar, my Northern sophisticates are running just as quickly in the opposite direction. And then there’s me, the daughter of a Northern firefighter and a Southern astrologer, a transplant from North Carolina living in the Big Apple…somewhere between desiring commitment and fearing it.
There are nights when New York is unforgivingly cold, when work has exhausted me to the point of no return, and when I see two lovebirds flying through the subway on my ride home that I long for someone. And that thirst for a warm body to hold me close and clear my head from a bad day can overtake any positive, any success, any anything in my life. I’ll spend 24-hours completely depressed, feeling unattractive, and even consider texting an old flame simply for the attention.
But lately, especially with this journey and with a new sense of self in my single shoes, that feeling hasn’t been as difficult to overcome. If I listen to my heart when it isn’t drenched in temporary loneliness, I know it isn’t at a point where meeting or dating Mr. Right is a priority. And not because of bruises or scrapes, rips or tears from men who have captured it before – but to a lack of desire in finding it. Those moments I have where I really want to be in a relationship, where I want someone to kiss and hold, someone to tell me I’m beyond beautiful, if I take a step back, I realize that commitment isn’t something I truly want. Or at least a commitment to another person that takes me off the market and moved off of Solo Lane.
However – this may make me selfish and a double-dipper into fate and having the power to choose – but, I want to know that my mom is right. I want to be assured and promised that I will one day get married. That my husband and I will beat the divorce statistics, no matter how high they may rise, and that the love I find will be more than I could ever imagine or hope for. I don’t want to know his name, where he is right now, or how I will meet him – but I want to know the love my parents share and have cultivated isn’t an anomaly. That it is possible, it is reachable, it is…destined…for me.
But if I’m not ready – and maybe even when I am – is there reason to worry?
I could search endlessly through any type of dating medium there is, I could place pressure on myself, I could look at couples from a far and long for what they have. I could spend my days of freedom, of living the selfishly single life, wondering if I will meet the right person. Praying that I am, in fact, meant for that kind of love. I could think of reasons why I’m not good enough, why I don’t deserve an enduring romance, why love always seems to disappoint or pass me by.
Or I could just live. I could be happy for all of those people – including my parents who are currently sailing the Caribbean – who are blessed to not only find love, but brave to fight for the flame they ignited so many (or so little) years ago. I could be hopeful that though I’m not committed to being committed, I have already made a lifelong commitment that’ll I’ll never break:
A vow that in good times and in bad, for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, I will love and cherish, myself.
P.S. Confessions of a Love Addict is making Valentine’s Day more about the single ladies and less about flowers that’ll die in a day. Submit your Valentine here.