When I go back to visit family in Brooklyn, I can basically guarantee that three things will happen: one, I will attempt to consume roughly my weight in Everything bagels with scallion cream cheese. Two, I will wallow in anxious ambivalence about whether I should move back to New York. And three, I will feel a little bit more sad than usual about being single.
Sure enough, the trifecta occurred on this trip. I did my best regarding the first, for a two-day visit (and—there being a birthday involved—I also made a sincere effort to eat my approximate volume in Dad’s flourless chocolate cake; tough life, I know.) I’ve already written about the second. As for the third, that slightly swollen awareness that I am alone, it happened, too.
“So, do you really think about these things all the time?” my brother R asked last night, after announcing to me that he enjoys the blog but has been wondering about something. “I mean, do you worry about this stuff? Like, cause I’m a guy so I think about sports all the time. But I don’t, like, worry about sports all the time.”
I reflected for a moment: I hadn’t thought about it in these terms. I told him that, yeah, I basically do think about relationship issues constantly—and there are times, like when I’m waiting, rather hopelessly, for MLH to write me back—when those thoughts look a lot like worry. (Actually, it was mainly anger at that point; bad example, but you get my drift). Most of the time, though, I feel pretty relaxed about things. I’m happy to be writing and teaching and to have a trans-continental stable of smart, supportive and irreverent friends. I even—and James, this is where my “frankness” and my blog-reading parents do, finally, collide—feel okay about not having regular sex. One close girlfriend, recently out of a long-term relationship, confided the other day that she’s fine being single but really, really misses the sex. Honestly, I couldn’t relate. Don’t get me wrong: I miss regular sex. But I am generally pretty good at not allowing myself to realize this until I start having it again.
All of which is to say, in response to my brother’s question, yes: I do think about “this stuff” all the time. But no, it’s not constant worry.
Naively or not, I still assume that someday, someone amazing will appear who will love me and I will love and be happy with for something like forever. As my therapist likes to put it, I have faith. Sometimes, though, I do feel anxious, or sad, that it’s not happened yet.
Such days often occur when I’m around family. As much as my relatives support my writing and accomplishments and general odyssey-like meandering—and they do; they really, really do—they, like the rest of the world (including, of course, me) don’t seem to think I can ever be truly happy without a man. And, fortunate person that I am, my relatives really, really want me to be happy.
And sometimes it just breaks my heart to come into contact with this. Because I know that they do worry. Not that they think there’s something wrong with me, but they might think there’s something wrong with a world where so many women like me go for so long without a boyfriend.
Sometimes, I agree, and sometimes it worries me too. I try not to focus on it. But with my family around, it can be hard.