Friday, May 16, 2008

Old Maid Is Just A Card Game

A word about being single: Relative to stormy relationships, being single is fantastic. You get to do what you want, when you want, with whomever you want to do it with. You might not have the clouds bursting into rose petals around you, but you also avoid relationship-related pits of anxiety, uncertainty, and hurt feelings which can sometimes happen. Instead of the highs and lows, you have a more even-keel existence.

Feeling a little anxiety about being single, however, is sometimes unavoidable. For example, when a critical mass of your friends suddenly become engaged and/or married and you find your totally unattached self out at an event admiring everyone else's rings, it can be somewhat destabilizing. Don't get me wrong, I could not be more happy for my friends. Their happiness makes me happy; they're wonderful, they have wonderful men in their lives, and that's thrilling and exciting. But, to be perfectly frank, all those uniquely cut diamonds do make a girl just a tad self-conscious about her current lack of prospects. Not for marriage - just for men that she might be interested in.

This feeling is added to by comments from the peanut gallery, i.e. your family. Another example will be illustrative. The other day, I was talking with my father and sharing with him my excitement over a trip I am planning to Tanzania. The trip will include 11 days out on safari in 5-star camps and lodges, taking puddle-jumper planes in between camps, seeing lions, giraffes, elephants, and tons of other animals up close, and then a few days on the beach in Zanzibar. The trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I'm so excited about it.

My Dad asked me who I was going with and I told him it was one of my girlfriends who is a few years old than me. My father responded, "Oh, she doesn't have a boyfriend either?" I said, "Either?" I thought we were talking about my trip to Africa; I didn't realize were talking about my relationship status. That conversation was a few days ago, but it keeps coming back to me. It reminded me of a conversation I had with him while I was planning my trip to India last year. He said something to the effect of: You say you want a relationship, but you're not going to get it this way. Why don't you wait to go on these big trips until you have a boyfriend? At that time, we got in to a huge fight. Now that I'm more mature a year later, I just let it wash off of me, for the most part.

I know I'm single. I get it. I don't need comments implying that I'm doing something wrong just because I'm not neatly packaged away into a nugget of nuclear bliss. And let's just remember that I was in fact dating someone until 2 1/2 months ago. It's not like I sit up on a shelf twiddling my thumbs gathering dust bunnies around me. What is the point of criticizing me for doing something that I love (traveling)? If I was in a relationship and making the choice to travel on my own instead of nurturing the relationship - if I was really making a choice between (a) traveling and (b) relationship - then I could understand my father's comments. It's like he thinks I could make a worthwhile relationship materialize out of thin air at the snap of my fingers if I would just focus on it and stop flitting around the globe. Instead of using my coveted 4 weeks of vacation to do something fun and self-sustaining, I should apparently be directing all of my spare energy into hunting for men. Not.

The choice he imagines is not before me. I am not in a relationship. Going on a kick-ass trip to Africa is not going to limit my chances of getting into a relationship with someone eventually. Two weeks away from the New York dating scene is not going to destroy my relationship chances for life. Frankly, the way dating in New York can be sometimes, I might just have better luck bumping in to someone amazing outside of Manhattan.

The choice before me now is whether to (a) enjoy my life to the fullest or (b) feel sorry for myself. I like to enjoy my life, and I don't really have any reason to feel sorry for myself, so for many reasons, I choose option "A." All I can control is me, so I'm taking my single self to Africa. Because I want to, because I can, and because there's no one around to stop me.

The thing that really pisses me off about this is that there's no way my father (and probably most people) would have a similar view if I was a man. My brother Frey, who is one year younger than me, has a demanding job, just like me, and just like me spends his free time traveling. I don't believe my father has once said to Frey that he should focus more on settling down and less on enjoying himself. It is a total double standard based on this image of women turning into old maids if they're not married by the age of 30, and men becoming ever more sexy in their bachelorhood.

Well, fuck that. I passed my 30th birthday and my taxi did not turn into a pumpkin, and I don't think it's going to anytime soon, what with all the blessed cabs there are in Manhattan. Of course I could kiss a boy if I wanted to - most women could. But, I'm on a boy moratorium until I find something worthy of more than a roll in the shadows of a club. For now, I'm going to continue as I am: Yoga and meeting up with friends tonight, brunch, shopping, and going out tomorrow night, and Sunday to relax, run and enjoy the Park. It's not a bad life. It's actually quiet wonderful. It would be nice if the peanut gallery realized that.


Starshine said...

Great post, Buttercup! I didn't get married until I was in my 30s, and I have no regrets about all the traveling I did as a single person. In fact, I'm really glad I took advantage of that season of life.

Also, didn't you meet the last man you were in a relationship with while you were traveling?

As for the double standard, I'm sorry you're experiencing that. My mom always told me to do all the traveling I could before marriage and children, because it can get harder once they come along.

You go enjoy your trip of a lifetime. If I were single, I'd ask if I could tag along!


Anonymous said...

ok, it wouldn't let me comment on the vampire post (i was encouraging to check out Buffy, the Vampire Slayer), but I will try one more time.

Your dad is dead wrong. What better way to meet someone with similar interests than to do something you are interested in? What, does he expect you to like hang out at clubs everynight picking up men or something?


wordnerd said...

I totally agree with Bubbles and am also INSANELY envious of your trip to's been a country that's been on my list for quite some time. I have a friend who stayed there for an extended period while doing work for the UN (Lawyer's for Human Rights) and has declared it to be paradise on earth.

Try not to get down about what your Dad has said...sometimes people just don't get it....although it's hard to be by's better to be alone and happy than with someone and lonely...

Your luck will turn around and imagine all of the amazing adventures that you'll be able to tell your suitor over a glass of red wine one day soon!

go work on staying bendy!

Anonymous said...

Plant your own garden, don't wait for someone to bring you flowers! Have an awesome trip and enjoy every moment!

Buttercup said...

To be totally fair to my Dad - who I love a great deal - I know he only has my best interests at heart. I just don't see how going on kick-ass vacations and meeting someone are mutually exclusive - of course they're not. They're totally unrelated. I'll meet someone when I meet someone. I probably should not have let those comments get to me even a little bit, but it's annoying to me that women have different pressures about this whole marrying thing than men my same age do. On the other hand, many men get pressured too... This comment is clearly not going anywhere, so I'm signing off... Thanks for the comments Ladies! Cheers.

Gypsy said...

The double standard is alive and well, eh? Sigh.

You go on your trips and you just keep doing what you're doing. The rest will fall in place. :)

jehara said...

your trip sounds amazing. you are doing all the things you should be doing as a single person. living life, doing what you want, taking kick ass trips where you don't have to compromise on anything. now is the time. now is the present. and usually the best relationships come along when you're not looking for them, out being your kick-ass, independent self exuding tons of confidence and contentedness.