Ah, amore! Through the ages, humankind has gone to great lengths for it. For love, we have laughed and cried, dedicated timeless books and poems, composed mesmerizing music, gone to wars and died for, and no matter how big the heartbreak it always gave us courage to pick up the pieces and find purpose in life once again.
I am single.
Sorry if this confession is slowing down the beautiful music that probably started playing in your head a verse earlier, I understand. I have been single for years and it has been part choice, part luck, and part cosmic conspiracy (get yourself together Mercury!). With a growing number of young people keeping their status in the single digit, and way into the post-Sex and the City era, being single continues to be a ubiquitous but also an à la carte social phenomena.
You show up in life: finish college, find a good job, travel the world, or more importantly, turn out to be a decent human being and somehow all of these amount to little when it comes to being single. Take the invitation to your friends’ wedding. There you are, looking gorgeous as ever and all the less-than-you-accomplished-coupled-friends will take stabs at your singlehood all night long. They will try to match you with every Joe sitting across the table. For the most unbeknownst reason, people somehow choose to forget how much one has to offer as a person when reminded they are actually single. The foreign languages you speak, education degrees, civic and volunteering commitments, artistic endeavors—writing, singing, acting, sport pursuits—yoga, jogging, lifting, climbing, skiing, one’s undisputable baking talent, their awesome social skills – ALL will come to lose some significance the moment you confess you are single.
Yes, I have been single for years. In case you’re wondering, I am not a saint. And in this particular context, neither do I wish to be one. I’ve had my share of dating, short and long relationships – the bad, the good and the ugly. I have done what most single woman in New York and elsewhere do.
The online thing where I found out that all the pretty boys are oh, so not pretty. Speed dating – as if quantity and less time spent with a potential partner were the solution here. I joined meet-ups. Found other social venues. Meditations, affirmations, visualizations and on it goes.
I have had long talks with my mom who I have the sneaky feeling deep down still thinks it is I who doesn’t want to be in a relationship.
I will admit, not without shame, that once I almost ordered an aphrodisiac to attract men to my aura. Oy vey!
I swore I would never go back to Match.com. I did go back to Match.com and earnestly loathed myself every wink and pathetic email at a time (sorry Matchistas!). How could I not? Most profiles read exactly the same as if written by some similar and ever-present hand. Everyone wanted to “enjoy the best the city has to offer” as if the rest of us missed out on a life special on Sunday’s paper. I get it, the rest of us choose the worse that the city has to offer.
I have also cried looking at the phone the day after a date. It may be worth noting here that I have come to the conclusion that one will cry even at an old, stinky shoe if they were to stare at it with such hope and intensity as if Messiah would come out of it. Don’t bother – it doesn’t!
I have met the one. It wasn’t him. I’ve met the second one and he wasn’t the one either. I partly realized the latter when I saw him at Whole Foods stocking up on napkins for the longest minute in the history of minutes. What was he trying to make with them: a mattress?! We will never know.
Singlehood is not easy. It creates a singleness that separates us from our self. It makes us long for the other and forget our own precious self. Singlehood can be frustrating.
Or is it? Through it all, when all societal pressures were off, or when I somehow managed to relieve myself of them, I have thoroughly enjoyed my singlehood. Don’t get me wrong, being in a relationship is a wonderful experience. And so is being single! What I love about the latter is giving myself the opportunity to stop looking and start waiting.
Waiting is not on anyone’s agenda, however. We are proactive and go-getters. We make things happen when they shouldn’t. Nor is it on the agenda of our culture. We do NOT wait. Stat. We marry and then divorce. Or stay married for fear of being alone. Waiting for love is not part of modern life.
Waiting, I’m realizing, doesn’t make me disengaged or selfish. It’s not as if I were taking a vacation to Selfville and giving myself roses every day. Waiting for love makes me trust both love and myself. And at that point, who is to say how love is to be experienced and materialized in one’s life?
Because the love that weaves the universe together – the kind of love that makes us be in awe when gazing at the stars at night, looking at the endless ocean, or smelling a baby’s head – doesn’t recognize when, how or to what it has been given. That love abounds the same in every star, tree, stone and being.
What matters then is to let love happen!