You see, I’m single – single and 37. And the thing is, as crazy, sad, or hard to believe as it may sound, I’m happy – fulfilled, even.
Juggling paper towels, toothpaste, and a six-pack of Pellegrino (or was it a box of tampons and a bag of fun-sized Snickers? I can’t remember exactly what time of the month this took place), I walked up to the cash register at Walgreens – a store I patronize roughly 27 times a week since it’s across the street from my apartment. Irene – a 60-something cashier whom I’d come to think of as my Walgreens grandma over the years – greeted me with a big smile.
“Hello, dear,” she said, as I plopped my items on the counter. “You brought your baby with you today!” I followed Irene’s eyes down to my dog, standing next to me. I know, I know. Who takes their dog to Walgreens? Well, I live in Los Angeles, where leashing up your pooch to run errands with you comes as naturally as grabbing your purse. For the record, I don’t refer to my dogs as my babies, but when Irene does, I can’t help but smile. So, I let it slide.
We exchanged chit-chat as Irene rang up my items. Then, she stopped. Making direct eye contact, she asked, “What’s wrong with you? Don’t you want a husband and real babies?”
“No, Irene, I don’t want a husband and real babies. If I wanted a husband and real babies, I’d have a husband and real babies. Now what’s that you were saying about a coupon for Double-Stuffed Oreos?” is what I should’ve said. But I didn’t. Instead, something more akin to a whimper fell out of my mouth.
You see, I’m single – single and 37. And the thing is, as crazy, sad, or hard to believe as it may sound, I’m happy – fulfilled, even. However, as my dog and I walked home from Walgreens that day, Irene’s words ricocheting through my brain, I didn’t feel happy. Perhaps, in part, because she’d begun her inquiry with, “What’s wrong with you?” Nothin’ like those four little words to send a gal into a, “I’m doing life wrong,” tailspin.
From 19 to 31, I lived life as a serial monogamist, with five relationships during those years. In that time, I fell in love, got my heart broken, did the heart breaking, got engaged, broke it off, compromised, cohabitated, fought, cried and laughed. And for the past six years, though technically single, I’ve spent a dizzying chunk of time on the dating hamster wheel. I’ve had first dates and tenth dates. I’ve stayed with guys for four months and others, only until last call. I’ve ghosted, been ghosted and both sent and received the awkward, “I’m just not that into you,” text. I was even proposed to by a guy I hadn’t seen in nine months – a seemingly friendly catch-up dinner that quickly morphed into the most uncomfortable evening of my life.
And I have zero regrets. I value each of these experiences – no matter how fraught or fleeting some might have been. I’m not bitter, jaded, or cynical. I love love. Ask any of my married friends – I’m always the guest or bridesmaid conspicuously shedding tears of joy. I mean, if it weren’t for the possibility of falling in love and finding my person, do you really think I’d keep climbing my old, tired arse back onto that dating hamster wheel? Trust me – it requires deep-rooted motivation to stay the course when the last guy you had a drink with ended up sporting a prison record and spent fifteen minutes justifying this based on the fact he’d only committed a white-collar crime. Or when a 47-year-old man, after just three dates, walks in on you while you’re peeing and asks you not to close the bathroom door because he doesn’t like “these emotional walls you’re putting up.”
So, to answer your question, Irene, what’s wrong with me? Well, plenty, I’m sure. I mean, who spends 37 years on this planet without acquiring a few scrapes and scars…and night terrors? But my unmarried status isn’t one of them. Do I want lifelong love and partnership? Of course. I’d say the vast majority of us do, in one form or another. As for babies, that’s a different story. But yes, I want to find my person who’ll walk hand-in-hand beside me through life’s ups and downs. I just haven’t freaking found him yet. Maybe I never will. Perhaps I’m too picky and he doesn’t even exist. Though, my history tells me that isn’t the issue. The thing is, I’ve created a happy little life for myself – filled with friends, dogs, dates, work that I love, and endless possibilities. Why would I want to risk toppling my world for just a husband? If and when I walk down the aisle – more likely a sandy beach with my parents on FaceTime because I’ve eloped – I want to know I’m walking towards the right person. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that – or, with me, for waiting for that.