Could I Be Happy?

Last night, as I was picking up groceries that make up my diet – orange juice, humus, grapes, bananas, Greek yogurt, and dark chocolate – I was forced to wait in a ridiculously long line. The grocery store by my current apartment is new and attracts customers from dozens of blocks away, and therefore, is always crowded. I usually don’t mind – it gives me the opportunity to eavesdrop and people watch.

Curving around the escalator, I noticed a good-looking man in front of me. He looked early to mid-30’s, was well-dressed and groomed, and had a simple basket full of good food and good beer. Not really inclined to say much of anything to anyone, when he looked back and shared a grin with me, I returned one, and then took my eyes in a different direction. A few moments later, as I casually looked his way again – a family had appeared. His arm was around a lanky young boy in soccer clothes, and a pretty curly-haired blonde in boots was laughing with a little girl whose face mirrored her’s.

The children had been in the bakery, picking out the one sweet treat they are allowed to have with their mom, and when they returned – so did the light in the man’s face. As the kids were somehow entertaining themselves with a display of sugar cookies (seeing who could reach the top), the man leaned over and kissed the side of his wife’s face, and as she probably has since they met, she warmly laughed, and looked into his eyes. They were about the same height but she looked tiny next to him and their body language was so easy and so loving, I noticed the others behind me watching them too.

As any child would do, the brother and sister duo returned, begging for cookies on top of their goody from the bakery. The man automatically dismissed their pleas but mom chimed in by teasing, “But Dad, they are peanut butter. Your favorite.” Blushing at what seemed like an inside joke, he agreed they were his top pick, and allowed the kids to have them – under the condition that they couldn’t have eat any tonight. At 8 p.m., I thought that was a smart decision on his part, having baby-sitted and mistakenly given sugar way too late. Excited, the siblings returned to pick out the best dozen, and mom teased again asking, “But I want one tonight, can I have one tonight?” Dad wrapped his arms around her waist, squeezed her hand, and in a sweet-and-sexy tone promised, “Oh yes, you can have one tonight.

I had zoned in so deeply to their conversation and watching the family interact, that I hadn’t noticed my arm had fallen asleep holding a heavy basket, or that I was next in line. Minutes later after selecting debit and thanking a cashier that didn’t say anything to me, I walked the two blocks back to my packed-up apartment and for the first time, in a long time, I felt sad.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m really happy with my life. My weeks are spent writing articles and blogs, attending events and happy hours, trying new foods and neighborhoods, and spending time with friends I love and a Mr. Possibility I adore. Soon, I’ll be able to run in Central Park and this summer is filled with trips I’m counting down to, and within a few weeks, I’ll move into a new place on this island. My life is constantly in transition, I have more freedom than I know what to do with, and much of the beauty of my 20s is that they are unplanned, unknown, and uninhibited.

I’ve spent 203 posts – or 203 days – reaching this point of content. Of being ale to feel secure in my single shoes, of not feeling like a man is the end-all-be-all to my existence, of not feeling incomplete without admiration from the opposite sex. I’ve developed a security in myself and should Mr. Possibility and his many possibilities walk away tomorrow, I would be upset, but I would be fine. His presence isn’t the most important component of my life, it’s just a bright one. I’m no longer defined by a man and I don’t feel this incredibly intoxicating urge to be in a relationship or to be reminded of how wonderful I am by a guy. I think I’m pretty great without someone telling me, as I should – I’ve worked hard and loved long to get to where I am.

So why did I feel sad after witnessing a healthy, engaging, and adjusted family? Why did it leave a poor taste in my mouth and make me feel like my life was hollow – filled with boozing and blasé brunching? Even though I know I’m nowhere close to wanting or being prepared for marriage and children, why did I instantly want both of those responsibility-ridden things in that moment?

Well, because I want them. One day, that is. And while I can push at the American dream and work as hard as I can to raise myself up from my heelstraps, move to the city I always knew I belonged in, and go on countless amazing and awful dates – I cannot control success in love. Or in creating a family.

And maybe that’s what is the hardest about being single – the lack of control. Even if you do all of the right things, find a peace inside yourself, and love the life you lead – if you want children and you want to get married one day, you want it. It isn’t something you can or you should change, it is just part of who you are – encoded in a DNA that few understand. And if we observe the world around us, the women who have found it and the women who have not, we realize which category we’d like to end up in. Sure, happiness isn’t defined by if you get Cartier or if you are able to produce offspring, and there are splendors a career can give that nothing else can match -but for me, and the life I hope to have, I don’t want to kiss or be kissed goodnight by my byline forever.

The question is – if I’m not among the lucky who finds someone they can tolerate and agree to share a bed and bathroom sink with until death parts us, or if I can’t carry a baby or afford to adopt or if my eggs becoming infertile by the time I become ready for that chapter – then what?

Can I still be happy? As satisfied and blessed I feel to be where I am today – miles and miles away from needing to even worry or think about such things – I can’t answer that question. I’d like to think I could find happiness anywhere with anything – but I also know that I wouldn’t want to do it without anyone. I’d rather have a someone and few little somethings.

13 thoughts on “Could I Be Happy?

  1. “…. I cannot control success in love. Or in creating a family.”

    What if you consider for a second, a week, a month, that your first sentence if false? Don’t ask if could be false or if its false for you but not for others. What if you believed deep down inside you that this is false, that you _can_ control success in love? What would that mean for you? How would you look at your life differently if you believed this?


  2. Very nice post. I re-read your post several times. There is so much truth in what you are saying. Can you control success in love? No, but we can increase the odds by keeping our eyes open and not letting our heart reach out blindly. After my divorce, I, now dating, was sitting at the kitchen table thinking about the same things you wrote about. It came to me that there is a huge difference between need and want; someone can ‘need’ that kiss on the cheek, or the fact you are there when night’s darkness surrounds her world, but does she ‘want’ you? I wrote need and want down on a piece of paper; months later the two words had evolved into a 86,000 word (unpublished) fictional novel about a divorced, now dating man who meets a woman from his past, and he wants to know if this is a real possibility for of the kind of relationship you wrote about, or a rebounder’s plea for a life ring. Of course, in the novel they make a lasting couple. Here is the point in the story where Dave decides if this is ‘let’s continue’ or ‘it’s been nice, goodbye’:

    “When she took my hand and pulled it to her hip I immediately knew something had changed between us. I had wanted to reach out for her hand this way my entire life – not just today, or last week – not just the moment she spoke to me in the building’s coffee shop. She had held my hand against her body for what seemed an eternity before realizing what she was doing. She glanced at me out of the corner of her eye, trying to gage my thoughts; me hoping she would not suddenly release her hold on my heart. In a quiet voice I asked her “do you know the difference between need and want?” A slight movement of her head, no words, just listening eyes that asked me to tell her what was on my mind. “Need is when you reach out in the middle of the night to touch the woman laying next to you; the need to reassure yourself she is still there. Want…it’s desperately wanting to be there next to her; to be the only man she reaches out for.” The increased pressure on my hand confirmed we were traveling from need to want.” (from Through A Stranger’s Eyes)

    If only real life can be as easy as Dave’s novel life (pun intended).

  3. Great post. Continue to keep more exciting publications. Been following blog for Three days now and I should say I am beginning to much like your post. I need to know how can I subscribe to your blog?

  4. As I write this I regret every word that my fingertips produce. It is said, but most of us don’t really know what true love consists of. And when we see it we are mesmerized. Although it was not me at the grocery store, it was you, I personally felt sad. Because I have never really experienced it. Perhaps once…..but the relationship was based on lies that I now question the validity of the feelings.

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