Single vs. Married?

@postaday 266; #postaday2011.

Casting our shadows.

While I’m busy on my mid-life-crisis-self-improvement plan, which, as I confessed to my husband John yesterday, has been a going concern since my mid-20s, I thought I’d give a shout out to my single friends who want to be married, but can’t seem to get the correct connect. I remember all that. Talk about feeling like I needed a self-improvement plan!

The grass is always greener! I have had the apartment, and sometimes it was a studio infested with B-52 cockroaches that swam in my water glass nightly. Every morning I’d have to toss one out the door of my little tiny studio connected to the owner’s garage in suburban Honolulu. But I had my own place! It was at that place, many years ago, when I got on the phone with my mom one Xmas morning to open the care package she sent me. There were some years when I never got a chance to fly back to see her and the rest of my family in New Jersey. But I had it all in some people’s eyes: a job, a roof over my head, a car, and a surfboard.

I didn’t always have a man. I’m not saying single people feel this way, but whenever I was single, fully single with no one in my life, I felt so lonely. I wanted to share what was going on. I wanted someone to travel with, to roll over and wake up to, someone to cook for and read to. I wanted someone to rub my feet, fuss over me when I had a fever, and come home with groceries, a bottle of wine, and a bouquet.

Being single is OK, it’s fine, it’s fun, it’s only being accountable to yourself, your creditors, and the pet who waits at home for you. No one expects an explanation for your behavior, you have to live with your own decisions and mistakes, and you don’t have to worry about anyone calling you out for a moral misstep. You can pick out flowers for yourself. You can whip up an amazing meal, set a place for one, pour a glass of wine, and that’s what it’s all about. But I always wanted someone to split that rack of lamb with me.

So how do you know? Do you know when you’re in a marriage that isn’t right? Hellas yes. Do you know when you meet someone that they’re the right fit? Hellas no. For John and me, I knew about two years before he did. How nice when he came to the same conclusion. We met 23 years ago, we started dating 21 years ago, and next month we’ll be married 16 years (I think. He’ll let me know if I got that wrong).

What kind of package was I back then? Am I still that same girl? I think so. I was a flirt. I liked to cook. I liked to be fit and healthy. I liked to talk long into the night over a bottle of wine. I liked to be spontaneous. I liked sharing my thoughts and dreams. There were a few guys who took a stab at me, but they couldn’t get a handle on what I was about. They thought I was weird, and I won’t say they were wrong. They thought I was off the wall sometimes, and I’d have to agree. But who had the great idea that I’d be an amazing partner for a long time? Who decided he could harness my enthusiasm for life and ride along with me? Who chose to live within my fluctuating personal weather system and its sudden downpours, rolling thunder, arid droughts, but mostly crystal clear, bright and shiny days?

Some people get married a couple of times, some people don’t get married until later in life. Marriage is compromise that sometimes hurt. Marriage is making room in the bathroom, in the closet, in the bed. It’s getting a two-car garage instead of searching for a parking space out on the street at 2:30 a.m.

John and I didn’t get married until I was 36. When I was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, I remember my dad commenting on how single women in their 30s were hopeless spinsters, their good looks spent, their best years behind them. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I gave birth when I was 41 and 43. Talk about more life lessons! Parenthood is astonishing, and it teaches you so much about yourself (yet another blog post). Life is good. I learned a lot on the way to meeting John. I learned a lot being single as long as I was. Life has its potholes and stormy clouds, but we are two people facing the elements together. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I wish for everyone the same.