Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Time when You Could Fantasize that Everyone Else's Life was the Same as Yours

When I was in middle school, I wanted to marry Jonathan Taylor Thomas. And by "wanted to" I mean "was going to." He liked the color blue, and his birthday was one day after my best friend Leslie's. He also liked Feta cheese and, though I had never heard of Feta cheese, I liked pizza with cheese on it. Soulmates, duh. JTT was my man. So much so it actually never occurred to me that someone my age would have a boyfriend beyond a celebrity one, especially considering none of my friends had actual boyfriends.

When I was 14 I converted to Christianity, and I was pretty obnoxious about it. Like super obnoxious. (I am now a far cry from a Christian but am pleased and honored to have some of my very best friends in the world actively involved in that belief system, and they all, every day, prove that all Christians are not bigoted d-bags, and I am so grateful for them. If any of my childhood friends are reading this, I am SO SORRY I was so obnoxious, and I no longer even believe in hell let alone am worried you are going there.) I decided it would be more Christian if I did not date (though I harbored a hearty crush on a boy in my Youth Group at church (Outside, anyone?)). This was not uncommon. There were some churchy romances here and there, but overall most of my friends were in love with Jesus.

I remember being at my High School Grad Night with my friend Steve and joking it was my first date (still the best date I've ever been on). I looked forward to college being a plethora of dating opportunities.

It was not.

At least not for me. There was some dating and some hooking up and a wedding, but overall most of my friends were in love with either their instruments (get your mind out of the gutter, I was a music major) or their own singing voices. I graduated from college still never having kissed a man, let alone dated one. But BOSTON! A big(ger) city! New people! New things to do and see! Boston would be my time.

It was not.

After grad school, I worked at my first job. I had a crush on a guy there for a while, because he was just so nice to me. Then I met another man through a friend. I fell for him pretty hard. I don't mean fell like we went on dates and had great sex. I mean I was hopelessly smitten with him, and I thought maybe he felt the same way until he made out with one of my friends. And then he and I stayed friends, and I spent years hoping he would come around and realize he loved me. 

He didn't.

I ended things not so nicely with that man this past summer. I gained (back) 50 pounds. I went on a (still on-going) miraculous journey of self-discovery. I learned to love my body and myself. And here I am . Almost 30. I've been on a few dates here and there, but I've still never been in a relationship with a man. I've never even kissed a man I really liked. I have kissed a fair number I didn't like at all.

I've spent many years coming to terms with my lack of romantic history. It's been a slow process of convincing myself that my lack of experience will not be the always story, and that I am wonderful and lovable and would make a great wife, etc. It has been a process of attempting to attain a seemingly unattainable balance between wanting something different and loving what I have, of not letting my desire turn to desperation, while still acknowledging the huge space it occupies in my heart, even though there is no guarantee it will ever come to fruition. Being a single, almost 30-year-old woman is hard f*cking work let me tell you.

And lately all I see on facebook day after day is profile pictures changing to wedding photos. I am not complaining about going to or being at weddings. Not by any means. But for some reason every time I see the profile picture of someone I haven't talked to in 10 years turn to a picture of them cutting their wedding cake, or standing on a gazebo in ambient light, or looking super happy with their now spouse, I just want to slap myself. Yes, I want to see those pictures. And yes, I want my friends to be happy. But I just miss the time when the only way I would know everyone I had met in my entire life was married would be to run into them on the street. And the likelihood of running into every person I've ever met in my entire life on the street is PUHRETTY slim.

If I look at my life here in Boston, at the people who I talk to and spend time with on a regular basis, those of us that are single still outnumber those that are married. And though I expect these numbers to change over the years, it will be gradual. My single friends will meet men, they will date them, I will meet those men, I will hang out with them as a couple, they will get engaged, I will get notified of these engagements, I will see the rings in person, I will hear about wedding planning, I will get invitations, if schedules permit I will go to these weddings, I will drink and eat and dance, and then, AND ONLY THEN will I see wedding photos. My friends love stories are stories in which I am involved, experiences of which I am aware. I see them struggling to yoke their lives to their significant others, to love those significant others more than themselves without losing themselves, to make time for all the other people and things they love while existing inside something as all-encompassing as romantic love, and I can see that it is all a struggle, comparable to if not greater than my own. 

Facebook is a love story told in montage. We are treated to all the highlights with none of the substance. And for those of us single people it is hard not to see that, not to see person after person getting married and think the oh, so dreaded thought, “What is wrong with me?” 

I suppose I could withdraw from Facebook, but then how would I Facebook stalk my friends potential dates? Facebook stalking is very difficult without Facebook. It just means I am left to self-censor, to unsubscribe from friends who talk too much about weight loss, or weddings, or how their lives are perfect, when it feels like self-preservation to do so, and to dialogue with myself constantly about the truth of my own lovability.

I suppose I am just missing the time when the people I loved, when my close friends and family, were my whole world and that world was small and manageable, and I had a perfect, albeit small, place in it as Jonathan Taylor Thomas's future wife.


  1. http://cheezfailbooking.files.wordpress.com/2011/10/funny-facebook-fails-always-a-bridesmaid.jpg

  2. You know what I love about you/your blog? It is so impressively REAL. I think this is what a blog is supposed to be, and you are the lovely, loving and refreshing woman writing it. Gah! So good!

  3. Deb, (Kate D's housemate here.)

    I am 38. I have never been in a real relationship with a man or even a fake one that lasted more than a few months. I am not sure why. Check out two posts from my own blog, one from Sept 09 and one from May 11. (There are a lot of others on this same idea, but I don't tag, so there you go....) Karen



  4. This really is beautiful, Deb. I feel you on all of this.

  5. Just got to reading this. It's amazing. You are such a great writer and all of this is true. It may look perfect from the outside, but no one's life is ever perfect (cliche, but true). In self-preservation, you keep a lot of things under wraps and in order to keep your marriage strong, you don't tell people what goes wrong. None of us are perfect and when you stick two imperfect people together, you do get a lot of internal struggle. But that's what it needs to be, internal.

    Love you much Deb. Miss you!