The bar was packed with women– not one, but three bachelorette parties were taking place simultaneously. Mini-veil hair accessories, and a hot pink cowgirl hat with tulle in the back could be spotted bouncing in the crowd, penis-straws spotted in the occasional cocktail denoting friends of the soon-to-be brides.
Of two women in my company, one is single, and the other has mingled, being in a relationship that is close to being ‘official.’ I’m single, and happy. I wouldn’t say I’m not looking– I can’t stand it when people say ‘it will happen when you stop looking,’ because it’s over-simplistic, and sounds like it’s better to not know, or even to deny what you want, so you can invariably ignore it, and then it will just pop into your life inconveniently or by accident. However, the essence of the advice stands, and that is to accept my status, and live my life without postponing things I want to do, or who I want to become while waiting for this dream man. For instance, I used to want to dance more, dated a man who danced, he dumped me, but I kept dancing!
My single friend is less than at ease with her status. In spite of being soft-spoken about her status, it is over-apparent to the rest of the world, in her coy demeanor and actions. I speak openly about my life, as it’s cathartic for me to let my friends in to alleviate the feelings of being alone in my challenges, if not also because it bears the benefit of giving others permission to open up, which it has in the past, to find that solidarity and catharsis for themselves in me.
I let the line dancing be my challenge for the evening, being more uniform than swing, with less room for error. Each time I managed to get a dance nearly seamless by the end, we’d high-five and move on to the next one. I felt awesome. In spite of my jagged missteps accompanied by the occasional smoothly braided grapevine, I was in my favorite pair of jeans, and cowgirl boots, my hair up in high-pony, read to sweat.
“IF YOU’RE IN A BACHELORETTE PARTY, MAKE SOME NOISE!!!”
We stared at each other, and laughed awkwardly. I could tell this bothered her. Shortly after the third time during the night that we couldn’t “make some noise” we called it a night, mostly because it was nearly 1:00am, and we had been dancing for the last four hours. But, I couldn’t help but notice the expression on her face had changed. She doesn’t usually show distress. She’s an educator, and keeps her negative emotions concealed expertly. Tonight was different. She’s a little older than I am, and last night must have distressed her more than I anticipated it would. It occurs to me now in reflection that she even suggested, jokingly, that we leave in favor of an event in what looked like a circus tent nearby.
We aren’t close friends, and I’m really only now getting to know her in the last couple months, in spite of knowing of each other for the last 9 years. She’s starting to make more sense to me as time goes on. I hope she opens up to me, or to someone she feels safe with about her un-pretty emotions. But, tonight she helped me see, externally from myself, the flip-side of happy.
I was able to enjoy these humorously endearing bachelorettes because I’ve found peace in being single, which was not the case a few months ago, or ever before that. That peace comes from a few factors that take consistent work to keep at the forefront of my thoughts. My peace comes from (a) knowing what I want in a relationship, which means that when I turn a man away, it’s my own choice, and that when he leaves, it’s not rejection, it’s a bullet dodged, because if he doesn’t want me romantically, I shouldn’t want him either; (b) knowing I can live a happy life full of adventure without a man’s romantic company, because I’m acting on those choices and living that life right now, and (c) my faith in knowing I’ll meet him when the time is right, when he and I are both ready to create a life with each other.
After a conversation with a psychic stranger that happened serendipitously earlier in the day, I was told I’d meet him once I’ve embraced my own power, my power to assert myself, my power to be fully myself wherever I go and with whomever I accompany. For the first time yesterday, I truly felt he was waiting for me. I don’t know where he is, or what he looks like, or even when I’ll meet him, but I know that he’s there, and that I need to work on myself more before I meet him, even though I don’t know when, or how long it will take.
I’ve come to peace with the idea that I may not get the chance to have children, which I’ve been told is cynical for my age, but it’s not. In fact, it’s been incredibly helpful in taking the pressure off. If I’m meant to bear biological children, I will, if I am meant to pursue other options, I’ll feel the inclination intuitively to do that, if I am meant to make the world my child, as in contribute a non-human project to add to the multitude of human efforts to progress existence to a better place, I will. My contribution to the world, whether the product of my relationship with a man, or the product solely of my own heart, will be the product of love, with or without a romantic partner.
I hope my friend can find this peace within herself, as it’s the only way it can be found. Words are only words until we feel. I’m relieved I’ve tackled these uncomfortable questions by the young age of 23, and didn’t let the opinions of others stymie my coming to terms with the unknown. I have to work on maintaining my peace, it’s a project every day, but at least it’s intellectually available. Moving the peace to my heart takes work, but at least I have the means to try.
The flip-side of happiness is that happiness can only be achieved, it seems, when what is making one unhappy is addressed, completely acknowledged, felt and overcome with a change of mind and heart. If only it didn’t sound so simple.