On Worrying, Bagels and Going Home

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.

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8 Comments

Filed under Love Life

8 responses to “On Worrying, Bagels and Going Home

  1. Rob Tannen

    I didn’t mean that I literally think about sports all the time – it was just an example, but you get the idea. Seems like the twitter and FB auto-posting is working?

    • I know, Rob – I hoped the exaggeration was implied (and frankly I was surprised you didn’t say technology!). And yes, thanks for the help setting up FB and Twitter. You’re the best!

  2. Lizzie,
    I can honestly say that I think about your happiness, but I am not worried. Happiness comes in many forms, and you are doing so many fabulous things with your life….you are able to find a community of good friends wherever you are, which is such a gift. You are finally able to focus on what you love, writing- You’ve discovered that you love to teach, and that you are good at it(no surprise to me).
    It will all happen in time, but it makes sense to me that it isn’t all happening at once. I love you. mom

    • Thanks, Mom. I know all this, somewhere too. But it is good to be reminded.
      However – you are logged in to this site as me! I’ll call you and show you how to log out…
      Love you,
      E

  3. Olivia

    Hi there,

    Just stumbled upon your jem of a blog thanks to the NPR shout out (I stalk the website to stay in touch with US News while living abroad in New Zealand).

    I just have to say that I love the witty but earnest way you present your musings. You have found a loyal reader 🙂 keep it up

    • Thank you Olivia! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog and hope you keep reading (and, that I keep writing!)
      Looking forward to more of your feedback! You’ll have to share your stories from New Zealand 🙂
      Elizabeth

  4. Megan

    I also think about this stuff a lot and while it doesn’t always “worry” me, it is often on my mind. Perhaps it is a curse of being in your 20s, but I guess I’ve always had this “worry” even when I was a lot younger. I admire that you still have faith that someday you will find that love. I have become much more cynical as I have gotten older and while I hope to find someone (sooner rather than later), I also think that not everyone finds love. Or rather that not everyone finds the type of romantic love that they seek (or maybe they just don’t see it when they find it). And I find that a sobering thought.

    • I find it a sobering thought as well. But I’m not sure that I’d be able to get up in the morning if I absorbed it too fully 🙂 I think you’re absolutely right, though, and the idea goes back to one of my first posts about accepting the possibility of not finding love even as a strategy for making myself more successful in relationships. There’s got to be a balance, though, between debilitating optimism and debilitating cynicism…here’s to finding it!

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