My new best-single-girl-friend-who-also-happens-to-be-family texted this to me today.
My new best-single-girl-friend-who-also-happens-to-be-family texted this to me today.
Today, I found an interesting email in my heart-shaped inbox on okCupid. A copy and a paste from online dating to online blogging and now you can enjoy it, too:
Well hello and good evening to you my dearest madam. I know what you must be thinking “a dashing gentleman such as this can surely do better than the likes of online dating.” (Notice I am wearing a top hat) But alas, do to my pertinent swine duties and piggish businesses, love has continued to escape my hooves time and time again. For you see, I too long put my work ahead of all else and left no time for finding the perfect pig for me, perhaps this pig can be you? Why, ha-ha, I barely left a moment avail for a roll in the mud on a hot summers eve. I remember when I was a piglet my mother (ever so beautiful with the curliest tail and largest snout in the entire drove) had warned me that I took after my boar of a father and spent too much time a worry. Ha’oink, Ha’oink, here I am rambling. Enough about me, tell me something of yourself. What farm did you grow up on. Do you wear any hats? I can dance on my rear two hooves, perhaps someday I can show you, and we can dance a splendid together! Does that intrigue you? Would you consider a fancy pig such as myself?
Thoughts? Comments? Discuss.
A good friend gave me Wild by Cheryl Strayed for Christmas. Usually, I devour books. I inhale them. I breathe them in, digest them, make them part of me, let them wash over me. And I usually do all these things immediately. For whatever reason, though, when I held Colette’s unwrapped hard covered gift, a strange thought entered my brain: “I’m going to read this in August,” I thought. The origin of this thought evades me still. Upon receipt of this gift, I had not made plans to travel to Europe for the summer. I had not planned to start Wild, a novel about a young woman’s life-altering journey on the Pacific Crest Trail alone, immediately following my own such journey. Instead, something deep inside me just knew. I just knew that this magnificent piece of literature was meant to be read in August. And so, I followed my gut, and put the book away until August.
The day after I returned from Europe, I began her book. And, while our trips differed greatly (I lost a pair of sunglasses and a water bottle; she lost eight toenails), the similarities were truly striking. The following two excerpts from my new favorite book best describe exactly what I experienced:
“I had arrived. I’d done it. It seemed like such a small thing and such a tremendous thing at once, like a secret I’d always tell myself, though I didn’t know the meaning of it just yet” p 309
“It was all unknown to me then, as I sat on that white bench on the day I finished my hike. Everything except the fact that I didn’t have to know. That it was enough to know what I’d done was true. To understand its meaning without yet being able to say precisely what it was… To believe that I didn’t need to reach it with my bear hands anymore. To know that seeing the fish beneath the surface of the water was enough. That it was everything. It was my life – like all lives, mysterious and irrevocable and sacred. So very close, so very present, so very belonging to me.
How wild it was, to let it be.” – p 311
I wasn’t lying when I said I’ve been reading a bit lately… This is how Dr. Bella DePaula begins her 2006 book, “Singled Out”:
I think married people should be treated fairly. They should not be stereotyped, stigmatized against, or ignored. They deserve every bit as much respect as single people do.
I can imagine a world in which married people were not treated appropriately, and if that world ever materialized, I would protect. Here are a few examples of what I would find offensive:
-When you tell people you are married, they tilt their heads and say things like, “Awwww” or “Don’t worry, honey, your turn to divorce will come.”
-When you browse the bookstores, you see shelves bursting with titles such as If I’m So Wonderful, Why Am I Still Married and How to Ditch your Husband at Age 35 Using What I Learned at Harvard Business School
-Every time you get married, you feel obligated to give expensive presents to single people.
-When you travel with your spouse, you each have to pay more than when you travel alone.
-At work, all the single people just assume that you can cover the holidays and all the other inconvenient assignments they figure that as a married person, you don’t have anything better to do.
-Single employees can add another adult to their health-care plan; you can’t.
-When your single coworkers die, they can leave their Social Security benefits to the person who is most important to them; you are not allowed to leave yours to anyone – they just go back into the system.
-Candidates for public office boast about how much they value single people. Some every propose sending them more than a billion dollars in federal funding to persuade people to stay single, or to get divorced if they already made the mistake of marrying.
-Moreover, no one thinks there is anything wrong with any of this.
Married people do not have any of these experiences, of course, but single people do. People who do not have a serious coupled relationship are stereotyped, discriminated against, and treated dismissively. This stigmatizing of people who are single is the twenty-first century problem that has no name. I’ll call it singlism.
No posts in two weeks. No dates in four. No kisses in three. As you may have guessed, I’m taking a short pause from men. There has been a lot to write about, but I’m trying to focus my energies on other parts of my life: spinning like I might spin off the bike, teaching like a boss, evaluating friendships and cultivating the ones that count, relaxing, spending time with family, staying sane in a busy time, and respecting myself to say no to all date offers that don’t give me butterflies.
A quick update might read like this, though: The rocket scientist broke a little tiny piece of my heart when he moved to Chile, that hot brewer ignored me at a beer fest, my old roommate tried to use me to make some other random girl jealous, that guy from NY told me he just wanted to f*ck (we’ve stopped talking since), and a hot student teacher started observing in my classroom on Fridays. Who cares that he’s 18. Still fun to look at.
However, I have been doing some reading…
…and if you are single, you need to read this,
…and if you are not single, you also need to read this.
I ached. As if nothing in the world mattered more than finding, keeping, and marrying a man. As if wanting nothing more than a husband was a decent way to lead my life. I ached for happiness. I ached for the fear that I would die alone to at least dissipate, if not dissolve all together. I ached for peace.
My self-set expectation to marry by twenty-four, twenty-seven, thirty, had slowly been killing me. Like Atlas, I carried an unbearable load. The weight dug scars into my shoulders, pounded into my skull, carved holes in my heart. I never would have guessed the solution: a month in Europe – a month to make mistakes, make boyfriends, make out, make realizations, and make new theories on what’s important. Thoughts of a husband no longer held me down, but rather, thoughts of my glorious friends, loving family, and my own self-worth lightened the load and defeated the aching.
“Think about it. When something occurs beyond chance to lead us forward in our lives, then we become more actualized people. We feel as though we are attaining what destiny is leading us to become.”
-p 120 of the Celestine Prophecy
What is destiny leading you to become? I, for one, know destiny leads me to become stronger, happier, and more at peace with my life every single day. I believe that every person I met, sight I saw, and experience that fell into my lap happened for a specific reason, all to help me become a more actualized person. Chance had nothing to do with it.
Hey Future Self in America,
It’s your past self here, the one in Europe. I’m sure that by the time you read this you will be back in your regular life – back to dating a few guys at a time, waiting for them to text you back, and feeling disappointed when they don’t. I’m here to remind you what you learned when you were in Europe. You learned a few lessons (seven to be exact), but you also learned a new way to look at the world. I’ve outlined the basics of your new viewpoint on life below:
- Life is better alone than with someone who is not a ten. You have kick ass friends and you are pretty kick ass. Anyone less than kick ass is not worth your time.
- The world is fucking awesome. Some people (Canadian boyfriends)… not so awesome…but your friends, your life, Boston, Prague, Budapest, Vienna, Paris, Rome, San Sebastian, Amsterdam… fucking awesome.
- Traveling alone changed your life. Remember your last night in Vienna: sipping on a sweet crazy drink, full of raspberries and strawberries, listening to a conversation in a language I don’t know and getting lost, but knowing I’ll figure it out… THAT’S the way to live life. Babysitting some uneducated immature boy (or any boy, for that matter) is NOT the way to do it.
- You don’t need other people with you to do things I love. Remember the hours you spent in the bookstore Hemmingway lived in in Paris. You are so perfectly happy alone and you absolutely do not need to find a man to ‘keep you company’.
- You have the best friends ever. Intelligent, fun, real, genuine people are hard to find, and you have found so many of them in Boston.
There have been many small lessons along the way on this trip, but I think the true crux of the matter here is that I don’t actually need anyone else in my life. My life is pretty fucking amazing exactly the way it is. Future Self, don’t forget it, please. Hold on to this feeling. Remember these lessons.
Without a doubt that life can’t get better,
Your past self (the one from Europe)
My whirl-wind romance with Cam in Europe gave me insights into this pattern I never could have discerned back in Boston. Forced to spend every waking moment together, our relationship moved faster than Parisians to their wine and cheese.
We went from only kissing after multiple glasses of vino, to kissing all the time, to holding hands in public, to cooking meals together, to romantic walks on famous bridges, to his use of the L-word, to me realizing I kind of hate his dependence and ignorance, to him calling me out on hitting on another guy, to me breaking it off, to him crying, to me apologizing, to us splitting up on our last day in Vienna. And all this happened in ten days. Ten days through Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest, and Vienna in the exact same room twenty-four hours a day.
Now, thanks to Europe and Cam, I can generalize these lessons into my real life. I can walk into future romances with the self-knowledge that I fall for men just as quickly as I hate them. I can enjoy the beginning, when I stumble head over heels for some new man. But I can also anticipate the cliff drop when the obsession turns to disgust. With this knowledge, I can stop googling wedding dresses after the third date, and start counting hours instead. Because, from now on, I won’t trust myself to truly fall for a man until exactly 128 hours have passed.