I had some quality time with a calculator today and discovered that there are less than 1,000 days left until I turn 30.
Not to panic! The Internet tells me that 30 is the new 20! That's 10 extra years I've got to accomplish things. 7 years into it, I'm feeling good.
But there is one thing I wasn't when I was 20 that, with less than 3 years to go, I am now: single (ish).
I look down. I look back up. I'm on a stool at my kitchen counter on a Saturday morning. I did not just close the door behind some chiseled bachelor who does that thing I love. Nay, I'm alone and in sweatpants. Eating cold lasagna for breakfast (don’t judge, it's delicious). A glance in the mirror tells me I’d better wash the dye out of my hair (oh, the upkeep!) before I take my dog for a run in the mud… and by 'run' I clearly mean 'quick pee' because there is lasagna to be snorfeled! Sitting here, basking in my solitude and reading an article about how women over 35 are sold into marriage in 'post'-war Iraq, I'm suddenly saddled by the thought that I myself might hit 35 and still spend Saturday mornings eating leftovers straight from the pan. Not that there's anything wrong with that; it’s just not what I had envisioned for myself when I was 20.
Despite pressing snooze on ye ol’ biological clock these past few years, I’ve finally settled in to the fact that I do want a husband and kids. I think many young girls start to plan out their matrimonial futures from an early age – thanks, MASH – and, being a child with a strict schedule thanks to hard-working (and divorced) parents, I had it all planned out. By the time I was 7, I had, quite logically, planned to be married at 27 (woops), and have 2 sons and a daughter by 32 (yikes). That family portrait also included 2 big, goofy dogs and a wonderful, goofy husband whom I would grill steaks and bake pies for precisely because he didn’t need me to. All nested in a modest but comfortable home. Oh, and of course with a cabin by the water and a chalet on the slopes. Apparently 7-year-old me thought 27-year-old me would marry that werewolf dude from True Blood (inside joke alert: or, Ryan Reynolds). When I was 20, there was still time. When I was 20, I was still following that 7-year-old's plan.
27-year-old me turns to my childhood dreams and says "PSYCH!"
Today, calculator in hand, I have a rough sketch of my reconfigured goals – a few blobs and doodles, really. Career goals, adventure goals (Harley Iron 883, you will be mine), philanthropic goals, and family goals. Like kids. With a husband. I would be lying if I said I’m not window-shopping for one of those. Not that I’m out there in the dating world in a white frilly dress standing at the end of some petal-strewn carpet [retch], but, for me, there’s only so far I can go with someone (emotionally, I mean… quiet, you) if it’s not going to go to there.
20 years ago the average age of marriage was 22. Now, it's 29. That's almost 30 (yay, math). Sociologically speaking there are numerous contributing factors: cost of living, a larger percentage of the population pursuing graduate and post-graduate education, more social options, and a greater acceptance by society to remain available. Accomplishing all the evolved societal 'norms' (a university degree, a house, a car, a job) now requires such a greater commitment of time, it's no surprise that commitments of the heart have been subsequently delayed.
Sure, here I am writing a blog about being single, having professed that I would like to not be one day. About aging and sitting around in sweatpants. Here I am simultaneously reading articles about women in my age-bracket in the Middle East, cringing at their plight. But, even mowing down on cold lasagna, I don't feel like some used car, selling for cheap to make room on the lot for the new 2011s – now with heated seats and locking differential (look it up, boys). Because paramount on my smeared, crumpled list of reconfigured goals, there’s one that’s content with whatever happens, at any age. Whether or not I fall in love again, whether or not I have children. I am settled with my life as I've lived it, as I continue to live it, as I will live it tomorrow. With the possibility of being single at 35. 45. Forever more. Sincerely – not that whole ‘I’m, like, totally enjoying being single!’ delusion that sticky chicks tell nice guys all the time; meanwhile, they’ve got dog-eared back-issues of InStyle Weddings piled on their bed-side table.
Singledom has its great points: discovering and cultivating interests all your own (no golf, thank God); concentrating on yourself and working through all the kinks left by the last ball-&-chain; being completely and utterly selfish in the best way possible. But being in a relationship is also really nice: regular sex. Not that that’s the only thing, but while the other aspects of a relationship are just not there (thanks to my rad hetero life-mates), sex is the only thing I’m actually missing. (Aaaaand there it is – the sex talk. SHOCK!)
If that’s the only thing, that’s not bad! And I don’t need a life-plan to find it (inside joke alert numero dos: thanks, Von). Reviewing my methodology from 20 years ago, I have deviated. I've substituted, edited, amended, and deleted full portions of that map. Those blobs and doodles have no clear path from one to the other. The reality is that I don't have a life-plan anymore. In fact, I don’t need a life-plan at all. I've accomplished things I could never have imagined at 7 years old. Actually, I take solace in the fact that my best-laid plans as a child have not come to fruition. Wouldn’t that be boring?! Not that it’s exciting to have debt and a few broken bricks on the career path, but taking each day as it comes and living it is thrilling. And when I’m 27, single, and thrilled, then I must have done something right.
Besides, time flies when you’re throwing your alarm clock across the room.