Live Your Verb

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Tag: happy girls are the prettiest girls

Stop Asking Me Why I’m Not Married

That Question Again: “Why aren’t you married?”

If I had a nickel for every time someone has asked me why I’m not married, I would be able to buy myself an engagement ring. A big one.

Each time someone asks, I’m inclined to respond with,”Is this question really necessary? Did you think this through one little iota?” Because, really, what sort of answer do they think I have up my sleeve? That I’m asexual and planning a long, fulfilling life enjoying only my own company? That I was engaged once but it turned out that he was an alien and then he was called to return to his home planet? That my devotion to caring for my six adopted cats has proven too time-consuming for me to add a relationship with a man into the rotation?

Isn’t it much more likely that I’m not married because I either haven’t found The One, or I did find him and it didn’t work out, for whatever reason? Isn’t that basically what any other still-single gal in her thirties will tell you?

I’m sure there are those who don’t believe in marriage or shy away from intimate relationships or choose lives of celibate religious devotion – okay, fine. But I’m betting that the majority of us who are questioned won’t be able to come up with a response to satisfy the Nosy Nellies, Would-Be Matchmakers and Tsk-Tsk-So-Sad-Headshakers.

The Answer

Women like me, we’re simply not married. We don’t really know why – we don’t have a concrete explanation for you. It just hasn’t happened.

And if we did know how to set up the circumstances that would lead to marriage, most of us would probably go do so and get on with the whole sharing-a-life-with-someone thing.

So please stop asking. Don’t offer helpful tips for meeting the right kind of man. And definitely don’t tell us how surprised you are to hear that nice, successful, pretty girls like us aren’t married but that you’re sure it will happen.

In short, don’t imply that we’re broken or we failed somehow. Don’t imply that we should feel inadequate or insecure because we don’t have husbands.

If you’d like to talk to us about marriage, congratulate us for building lives and careers and retirement funds all by ourselves. Congratulate us for killing spiders, opening stubborn jars and doing household repairs without any assistance. Congratulate us for showing up at dinner parties and weddings without a date, determined to socialize and have fun even though we know we’ll have to field your questions about which box we check on official forms. Tell us how we’re doing that lack-of-marriage thing totally right.

Better yet, congratulate us for holding out until we’ve found the right men rather than being in such a hurry that we married the wrong ones.

Congratulate us for living whole lives instead of half-lives even though we don’t have any so-called better halves.

The Things I Don’t Tell You

There are plenty of times that I feel inadequate or insecure about not being married. I wonder if I am a failure at relationships, if I am somehow broken in a way that bars me from being Wife Material. I wonder if marriage is a dream that I’ll just put on the shelf. I desperately wish for a brawny man to kill the brown spider lurking in the corner of the bathroom.

But there are also plenty of times that I am grateful for what this freedom gives me: a no-excuses-needed commitment to myself. I can read, write, take a class and go to temple whenever I choose to. I can take quiet time when I need it. I know that my accomplishments are mine alone, and that makes me even more proud of them. I know what kind of life partner I’d like, and what kind of life partner I could be. I know I’d rather be alone than accept anything but the best treatment from a man. And in these times, I believe my dear old friend who says it’s been hard for me to find Him because there aren’t many candidates who could catch me, a Great Catch.

I don’t know if I’ll ever become a bride, or if I will tuck away the romantic notion of marriage on the shelf in a few years. I hope I am the catch my friend says I am, that I get hooked by an intelligent, affectionate fisherman with brooding eyes. But if marriage ends up on that shelf, I hope I’ll be much too busy taking impromptu vacations, writing through dinner, flirting with men and spoiling myself ever so often to notice all the dust it’s collecting.

Now, Not Maybe Someday

Maybe I will get married someday. But right now I’m here, tackling life and taking on challenges and fielding ridiculous questions and still trying to make the best I possibly can of my time. I try to focus on the now, not the maybe, not the someday.

Sometimes doing it on my own is hard or lonely or a little sad , but I try to keep it all in perspective. I try to remember that being unmarried is just one single fact about me, and that there are many, many more parts that make up my whole self.

So stop asking about who’s missing or what I haven’t done; start asking about the people who are here and the many things I have done. Ask me if I’m happy despite being unmarried. Most days I’ll tell you yes.

 

 

Image: Alexander Shustov via Unsplash

 

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I Wore Waders in Idaho

This really happened.

I'm on the left.

I’m on the left.

So there I was this afternoon, on the back of a jet ski rising and falling through giant ocean-like swells in Island Park, my frozen fingers clinging to the driver for dear life, sputtering as sprays of icy water hit me in the face, and I thought to myself, “how did I get here?”

Did I mention it was only 40 degrees? Did I mention I was wearing waders, a winter jacket and a rain slicker over my clothes? Waders. Really. How did I get here?

Two Weeks Ago

Two weeks ago I was a native Orange County, California girl – a beach lover and avid hiker, sure, but not the kind of girl who ever thought I’d be wearing waders. In Idaho. In 40-degree weather.

Two weeks ago I was Director of Marketing & Events for a commercial real estate association (sounds fancy). Two weeks ago I wore 5″ heels and carried around a designer handbag (also sounds fancy).

And Now…

I’ve barely worn makeup since the move – just eyeliner once or twice. And I definitely haven’t worn any 5″ heels. In Orange County I would have gotten some looks for not doing those things, but here it would be seen as purely ridiculous (and definitely not fancy).

And now I’ve worn waders.

Wow. To say these past two weeks have been a huge life transition is an understatement.

But other than a small underlying fear of becoming some sort of gruff-talking, shooting-things back country girl, I’ve gained more than I’ve lost. Yes, I’m unemployed and my next source of income is completely uncertain… But. But.

I’ve seen an antelope, a vulture and a grebe. (Don’t worry, I didn’t know what a grebe was, either. Here’s one.)

Moss - and a handsome man.

Moss – and a handsome man.

I’ve been to the woods for the first time, hiked through those woods, seen fantastic radioactive-green moss, watched fishermen in the Snake River, and been hailed on (it hurts when it hits you in the face).

I’ve seen a pelican flying full speed, right overheard, just a few feet away, flapping and flapping and… dropping a fish the length of my arm back into the lake.

I’ve spent three days without a working cell phone and I haven’t missed it.

Maybe Activities That Require Waders Aren’t So Bad

I realize my new life won’t always be such a polar opposite to my old one – which is fine, really, because I like to get dolled up sometimes, and I like the convenience of being able to text my few close friends when I think of them, and waders definitely aren’t my sexiest look – but everything I’ve seen and experienced since I’ve moved has been a healthy reminder that there is much more to life than working and keeping up with the Joneses, a healthy reminder that I moved because I want a life with more.

And, most importantly, it’s been the reassurance I needed to know that this was the right decision. That I won’t just be getting by any longer. I’ll be out living and seeing and (occasionally) daring.

And maybe, just maybe, wearing waders and talking this fellow I know into teaching me to fly fish.

 

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“Today, give yourself permission to be outrageously kind, irrationally warm, improbably generous. I promise it will be a blast.”

- Sasha Dichter

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She Also Laughed

A crinkle used to appear
at the top of her nose
when she laughed. Really laughed.
A tiny spasm, a scrunching of skin
that meant, just then,
she was happy.

When she smiled or leaned in
and listened intently to a joke,
I looked for the crinkle.
And if it appeared, I rejoiced -
a tiny reprieve, a moment of
forgetting. And then I too
could smile, could relax.
(Thank you. A silent prayer.)

I checked my face in the mirror
when I was small. For the crinkle.
For a sign that we were the same.
But it never appeared.
I had her feet and her fingernails
but never the crinkle,
never the same laugh.

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Girls Just Want to Have Fun

Image: Shorpy (circa 1926)

Image: Shorpy (circa 1926)

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Happy Girls Are the Prettiest Girls

“I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.”

- Audrey Hepburn

audreyhepburn

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I Am

“Today I had a conversation with my true self. She asked me why I had abandoned her, why I had ignored all her constant advice. And then she reminded me of all the things I had forgotten. And never once did she say, “I told you so.” 

– Monique Duval

 

I’ve spent a lot of time looking in the mirror lately: do I know who I am anymore? I lost little pieces of my self along the way to this place I’m at now. Actually, lost is the wrong word. Gave. I gave them away, willingly, hastily, in efforts to sustain this love, this life, I saw slipping away. And so I tried to be someone I wasn’t – a little more sophisticated, a little more domestic, a little more whatever-it-was-I-thought-he-was-looking-for – and in the process I gradually stopped being me. And so it is no wonder that we failed to connect any longer. It’s difficult to nurture an intimate relationship when one of the participants is essentially missing… It’s more difficult to crawl out of the wreckage and find a sturdy foothold with such a diluted sense of self.

I began finding my self again the same way I sent her off, in bits and pieces, stashed away in cardboard boxes. A half-written poem, an old beloved sweater, a forgotten photo I had cherished and taken off the wall. And suddenly, there she was, all sass and stubbornness and confidence, a chatty, dancing, jeans-and-t-shirt wearing me.

We are becoming one and the same again, growing more sturdy every day. It’s refreshing to feel like myself, invigorating just to be comfortable in my own skin again. And I have learned not to give her away, not to sacrifice the person who will always know me best, speak up for me loudest, hold on fiercely to my dreams and passions.

I am a dancer, a writer, a philosopher, a lover – eternally flawed and fallible, but, for better or worse, me.

 

Look in the mirror. Who are you? Are you living as your true self? Are you living your verb?

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