I do not tell people about my feelings against having children or getting married - ever - for the shock value. I don't do it to be different or difficult. I don't do it to anger my parents. I say it because it's how I feel. And I (most of the time) respect and honor others' choices in the opposite direction. I hold no resentment towards those blushing brides or giggling infants or sweaty and eager young men clutching engagement rings in their pockets. It is an exciting thing. It is a beautiful thing. It is an old and time-honored tradition, this business of starting a life and family with someone. It is just not for me.
I've been thinking a lot about relationships and my path that I am so firmly setting my feet upon. And while there is an entire other essay explaining just how I feel about things to come, I want to first reflect upon where I have been. You see, I do not fear or reject or fight against commitment. I enjoy it. I want someone there and I want to be there for someone. And I had that. We had that. We had exactly what I wanted and what I hope to again have someday.
I valued my previous relationship because it didn't take any work. We never fought. Really, we never had any problems. There was no jealousy, there was no competition, there was no need that was not met. Comfort had been gained, security was earned, and we were able to relax knowing the other was going to be there, always. I enjoyed that relationship simply because I didn't have to worry about it. We were companions. We were good, we were happy, and we were content. And because "that" was figured out, I could exert more energy into writing, moving, working, and starting something new. When all of my writing for the day was done, I had squeezed in a run, paid all my bills, and spent a few minutes day dreaming about the next great place to move, we would go out to dinner. There wasn't any question or guesswork about whether or not he would be free or up for it or otherwise unavailable. He was my date, he was there for me, he was my fail-safe. I knew how to communicate with my previous boyfriend. We had learned each other over the course of seven years – three of them in a committed relationship. We were safe, we were secure, there weren’t any games. And there wasn’t any question about where the other was – physically, and emotionally. My favorite part of “us” was calling him after class and figuring out what we were going to do for dinner. And knowing if a movie I wanted to see was coming out, I’d have someone to go with me. Our partnership was assumed. I had a person. And don’t get me wrong, I am fully capable and almost prefer to do things solo – going to restaurants, seeing movies, shopping, sleeping, etc. But having that other, that conversation, that person who knows I don’t like hard rock or video games or cold weather and get cranky when I don’t eat breakfast, who always takes the trash out because it bothers me when it’s too full, the person I can cook dinner for, thanks me after the first bite, sometimes mid-bite by leaning over and kissing me and patting me on the knee – that is something that takes years to build.
And perhaps that is what I resent the most about starting all over again in this terrible, frustrating, stupid and any other negative word that I can think of to define the world of DATING. It's a horrible place, full of unanswered questions, someone else's baggage, someone else's damage, someone else's bullshit that you have to exert so much time and energy to sort and sift through to even hope you may someday reach the top of the iceberg of the known and familiar. It is a wonder that any make it there at all. It is also a wonder that I don't believe in marriage because of these opinions of mine about dating. Wouldn't I be more satisfied locking someone into a contract so that I can take my time, work on the relationship when I want knowing they have to stick around? Oh, but what a greater tragedy it would be to waste years only to find out that person is not at all who you thought they were or the person who you wanted.
Because this battle to figure someone out takes so long, I find it difficult not to yearn for and look toward (or rather, look back to) what I once had - or simply nothing at all. I write less. I spend more. I lay awake longer. I feel insecure more often. I am distracted.
I do not want to be alone. And when I am, when there isn't the drama of dating or relationships, I am lonely. I wonder what is wrong with me that I am unable to find my match, my mate, my other. But then again, I get so much more work done. I am able to afford to do things like vacations and pay down my debt. I get more sleep.
And I realize that I am beginning to sound like the exact kind of person who will eventually own lots of cats and only one sweater. But in truth, I sometimes fantasize about being that woman (with dogs though, screw cats). How simple her life must be, how happy she must be to decide what she will do, and where she will be, and when she will go. She doesn't have to take anyone else or anyone else's agenda into consideration. There is no sacrifice. There is no work. She is responsible only for her own happiness. She is free.