Last month I went home in time for my hometown’s eggstravaganza. Yep. A celebration of eggs. It was really an excuse to go see my favorite three-year-old nephew and niece (I also have a favorite one-year-old nephew). It’s the perfect opportunity to pump him full of ice cream and candy and set him loose on a muddy playground (the niece isn’t quite ready for that kind of sugar rush). Normally, going home is solely tied to family. None of my friends from high school stayed behind.
As I pen what is sure to be my greatest work yet I sit in a coffee shop awaiting the arrival of a long-time acquaintance. This individual is someone I knew briefly in a past life at my first agency just after college. We’d lost touch some time after he moved on from his internship to get swallowed up in the world of limited graphic design careers in southern Minnesota. He has since moved on to a fairly successful UX path that led him to the Minneapolis pool I drown in.
After engagement number one, but long before meeting The One™, I began my longest relationship to date. It started off on uncertain footing as many of these things do. In fact, the first time I brought my special someone home I stared into those big green eyes and wept to think that this was all the romance I had in store for me. At a fresh 24 years of age, I imagined all my opportunity for love had been squandered on the wrong men and no one would ever want to spend their life with someone who had nearly gotten married.
A million years ago I read this article entitled Your Boyfriend is Not Your Friend, and I was livid. At the time, I had just started to date my person, but I was already offended by the idea that I couldn’t consider him a friend. In fact friendship was essentially how our relationship began. As time wore on, I even dared to hope that we would be the bestest of friends throughout our lives. I understand the central thesis of the article was relatively reasonable. You should have friends outside your significant other and you can’t expect to get everything from a single person.
My first kiss moment occurred when I was but a lass of 15. Astyn B. was hosting an end-of-the-year party on her parent’s farm. (I don’t count the one inside the Kindergarten playhouse from Dylan or the time Tadd F. pinned me down in the gym in 3rd grade.) For most of the night I had been flirting with Josh P. as adeptly as any newly minted sophomore can (I’m sure he remembers my suave moves a bit differently). He was one of the taller boys with brown eyes that I thought revealed a very deep teenage soul. He had such style about him in his polyester Adidas shirt, which had a melted spot where the bonfire spark landed. It was one of a collection. GQ model material right there.
One of my best friends from high school recently uncovered our note notebook from our junior year. Reading it ten years later is both hysterical and heartbreaking. Among the heart-dotted eyes, Stereomud lyrics and obnoxious spellings of “nite” there is some insight into what love and boys can do to the delicate psyche of a sensitive 16-year-old girl as she struggles to find her path and figure out who she is along the way. Before I chose to combat heartbreak with sarcastic cynicism, I handled each romantic let-down with raw, unadulterated (if not immature) emotion.
After a conversation with a coworker, I came to the realization that I’m a bit of a snobby single. Many of my conversations with him have revolved around how doing things with married people was a terrible way to spend my time. I may have implied that I’d rather be impaled by unicorns, Triton’s spear and a myriad of other sharp mythical objects than socialize with the married people. I don’t really feel this way, but it entirely depends on the dynamics of the group and, more importantly, the ratio of singles to espoused. When I’m mingling within a group peppered with those flying solo and those happily entrenched in a duet, I have a splendid time and don’t think twice about the distinguishing line that becomes so pronounced when it’s me and a room full of couples.
I had lunch with a friend the other day and she impressed upon me the urgency of “settling down” because we weren’t getting any younger and soon all the good ones were going to be taken. I quipped that I’d get my shot at a good one on the next round after the divorces. In all honesty, I was slightly taken aback and even a little offended by the comment. Does the fact that I’m not married mean that not only have a passed up the opportunity to find a good man, but I, myself, am not included in the good batch because if I were, I would be snapped up already? At 25 I hardly feel that I’m at an age where I’ve been completely passed over in the marriage department.
This weekend, I had drinks with a friend of mine who has been single for much of her adult life. She is an attractive and caring woman who is completely satisfied without a boyfriend or a husband at the young age of 29. However, there are some people who seem genuinely upset by the fact that she isn’t involved with someone, including near strangers.
I’m not sure if it’s that the fact that my most recent romantic experiments appear to be taking an unfavorable turn or that I’ve witnessed the demise of the relationships of a few close friends or something else entirely but I found myself on the train to bitter town a few days ago. I’ve since recovered but it got me thinking about the divide between singles and couples.