Archive for the ‘I am single’ Category

25

September 18, 2012

Life is changing.

I’m careening toward the end of my 25th year and 10 months into my first job. I get up and go to work every morning wearing heels and something semi-professional. I do my make-up and hair in the morning and undo it every night. I’m getting really sick of that already.

A few months ago, I bought a house — me.

My life has almost all the trappings of adult-hood. But, sometimes, I still get deja vu. I flash back to a day when we lived in Louisiana, so I must have been 5 or 6. I’m shuffling through my mom’s closet, picking out the prettiest jacket and skirt I’d wear if I got to go to work like she did. I put on a white suit with shoulder pads — and a pair of her high heels, too. I look at myself in the mirror. Not as pretty as my dress-up clothes, I think.

You see, I am not an adult. I am still in the throes of growing up, nagged by a mix of annoyingly existential and incredibly superficial questions — am I making a difference with my life? Is this is where I should be? What if I had become a singer instead? Should I grow out my bangs?

They are questions left over from an adolescence of insecurity coupled with a future of unending potential. Forever, the possibilities were endless and I could do anything. And I expected I would. That was my story — the one I’ve been writing for myself since I was 10 years-old.

But, at some recent point, I put down the pen. I gave up writing my never-ending draft and decided to sit back and drink a glass of wine, or something. It didn’t last long.

Now, with each question I ask myself, I’m trying to edit my life story — starting somewhere in the middle. But, with each answer, I’m closing another door. I bought a house. I picked a city to live in. I chose a career.

My life is not only already half-shaped — so am I. The possibilities are no longer endless.

I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately written by not-very-old women who have gone through some kind of  transformative experience, usually involving some kind of travel, or great loss, or something. They find themselves and then they find love. It’s a coming of age tale, a common enough narrative that should inspire me. But lately, this story line has become my obsessive mantra. I repeat it to myself, find it in everyone around me and continually fail to live up to it.

I’m constantly watching the lives of other women and writing their life stories for them. There’s always a clear path and a for-now conclusion. If I commit myself to one life, I’ll be strong like my sister. If I can stop feeling sorry for myself, I’ll be content like my best friend. If I could take the risks I know I should, I’ll be more like the woman I want to be. 

But I’ve never been a risk-taker. When I was a kid at a sleep-over three blocks away from my house, I’d get homesick at 9 p.m. and call my Dad to come and get me. But, every leap I’ve taken in my life — and I’ve taken some  — has been in direct retaliation against this part of myself.

I knew my instinct was to huddle up in my bed at home, so I moved across the county to New York the first chance I got. When I was 15, I refused to risk speaking even one word in French to our exchange student from Paris the whole summer he lived with us, so I majored in the language in college and spent 6 months living in Paris. I made myself do the things that terrified me most.

It’s the central paradox of me. And it means I’ll never stop striving — to achieve, to succeed, to love, to live. And it means that I’ll be fighting myself every step of the way as I do it.

I am not an adult. I am still in the throes of growing up. But, then again, I probably always will be.

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The Bridesmaid Years

October 23, 2009

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It’s begun. My mid-20s. Or, as I have quickly come to understand it: The Bridesmaid Years. That time of life when, at least once a year, one of my wonderful, talented, strong, smart, gorgeous best friends will ask me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding.

Just a few days ago, it happened again. Almost exactly a week after I was honored to be the maid of honor in my big sister’s wedding, one of my best friends, Katie, called to say that he had done it! Joe had proposed. I literally shrieked and jumped up and down in my kitchen. We have been waiting for this one. (Katie and I picked the ring out at Tiffany’s at least a year ago now.)

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I will help her choose flowers and colors and venues; I will squeal when she finds the dress; I will love whatever dress she picks out for me and I will hold up all of those white layers of silk when she has to pee right before walking down the aisle. (I didn’t make that up, it happened to my sister).

I will love every second of it.

Having already been maid of honor twice before my 23rd birthday (which was the day after my sister’s nuptials about two weeks ago), I am an early inductee into the 20-something post-college Bridesmaid Years.

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I expect this phase to last for about 5 years, with some outliers and a congested period in the middle somewhere. (This will be a recurring segment on my blog, as you can tell).

You all know what I’m talking about, 20-somethings out there. There are movies about this phase of life. (Not very many good movies about it, but they’re there.) When I updated my Facebook status after Joe proposed on Monday, I said, “It’s wedding season again!” A high school friend commented: “Isn’t it always wedding season in your 20s?” Yes. It seems to be.

But here’s the catch: In every single one of those movies, lonely girl (whether she’s played by Jennifer Lopez or Katerine Heigl, it’s the same girl) finds that perfect guy by the end of the movie who understands and loves her even though she is a neurotic workaholic. Ah, how art imitates life.

There was this moment at my sister’s wedding — it was a moment when I found myself, somehow, standing in a bustling, pushing, pretty drunk crowd of young, unmarried women in heels ready to fight for the bouquet. The bouquet that meant you were next.

I didn’t expect to be one of the girls in that crowd. I’ve been raised by a staunch feminist mom and the least macho dad in existence. I’ve never been all that concerned about being perpetually single, which I am. I usually enjoy it, actually. But I am hopelessly romantic (blame it on a childhood full of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers).

I hate to sound like a stereotype. I really hate to actually be a stereotype. But something happens when I see that diamond ring on someone’s finger. And then there’s that look on her face. That peaceful sort of knowing — that she is settled, that she is done, that she is ready.

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I have realized by now that being romantic and being a feminist are not mutually exclusive things, but part of me instinctively cringes when I think like that. I hate to feel like there’s some existential race going on, in which I’m quickly falling behind. Two weddings have gone by already and I have yet to reach the end of my own terrible romantic comedy.

So, even though I have no answers right now (except when it comes to mermaid cuts versus A-line), there is one thing that I do know: The Bridesmaid Years will be nothing but lovely, gushing, romantic fun — if I can just stop watching those movies.

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