At the very same Lavender Festival I mentioned last blog, I struck up a conversation with a cute little elderly couple while sitting on the grass slurping up lavender-raspberry ice cream and listening to the featured band, The Geezers, a motley musical crew who all looked to be about a hundred years old and made me wish I’d taken that CPR class at work.
The couple, babes to the band members at eighty-two and eighty-four, proudly told me they were going on their golden anniversary. I congratulated them and the missus asked if I was married.
“Once,” I said because it made it seem like at least I tried.
“Boyfriend?” she asked.
“Sometimes,” I said and she cocked her head curiously like more was coming. It wasn’t. Alarmingly, I caught something in her eye that pulled at me like pity or surprise. A judgment thing that suggested I was missing out.
I flashed back a mysterious smile and she leaned towards me. Again, wanting more.
“Maybe you’ll have a golden anniversary one day too,” the mister threw out and I thought, Not unless I get married tomorrow.
What’s more, it’s not on The List.
Before I polished off my last spoonful of ice cream, they were fighting over who sang the original version of Unforgettable. It was the kind of reckless arguing you don’t expect from seniors, but at least they didn’t swear.
I’ve seen this movie before. The one with a couple bragging about the years under their belt and then, bam, mortal combat. Like any normal okay-with-being-single chick, as I strolled away smugly, it struck me that the one thing they hadn’t asked me was “Are you happy?”
“A lot,” I would have said.
I’m not anti-marriage and hitting Golden can be great if you’re still If-you’re-happy-and-you-know-it-clap-your-hands in love. Still respect each other. Still have a willingness to be kind, interested, have each other’s back AND NOT THROW DOWN IN PUBLIC PLACES.
But Marrieds aren’t inherently better than Singles. Sometimes nuptials are about winning the love lottery, and sometimes they’re about loneliness, economics, socialization and settling. I was married once, so I sort of remember its shadow side. Disillusionment, doldrums, compromising, and wish-you-weren’t-here days.
For better or for worse, I’m finally ready to admit—surprising myself most of all—that marriage isn’t on The List.
It hasn’t been for years, despite having lovers, plus an occasional dream of a barefoot ceremony on the beach. Me in a vintage purple lace dress, him wearing all white. The face never comes into focus though and that should tell you something.
Not saying I wouldn’t “I Do” if the right man came along, but if I pieced together my love life—that memorable collection of short stories (versus a novel)—it would be more than enough.
Worst of all would be to be with someone who was in it for a golden anniversary.
The last boyfriend loved me, yet beyond that I think he wanted to be married again. After I called it quits, he confessed that he’d planned to propose on my next birthday. Then he frowned over my “Oh” and a rapid change of subject. It wouldn’t have worked out. He was clingy and possibly atheist. I need space and God, so I was starting to lie to him regularly for both and it didn’t seem right or sustainable.
I’ve said all of this to say that instead of debating whether single or married is better, the basic question I hope to ask myself in the years ahead is “Am I happy?” If so, I’ll clap my hands and give thanks. If not, I’ll drop everything and get there.