Anita Mechler, a fellow contributor here at Drinkers with Writing Problems, wrote a piece about the reasons she didn’t care for those in coupledom. While I understand her antipathy for those who appear to be glistening and overcome with love, joy and the security of having someone change your adult diapers, I felt compelled to write a counterpoint to her piece.
Let’s start with the fact that I don’t hate single people. As a matter of fact, I LOVE THEM! I love them to the point of unhealthy obsession. I spend a copious amount of time asking my singles what they are doing; not so I can make plans with them, but to listen as they tell me of schedules that don’t involve children, husbands, homework or beginning a 7-day-long grout scrubbing project.
Single people do crazy things. THANK GOD FOR FACEBOOK! My imaginary swinging single social life would be nil except for the magic that is Facebook and Instagram. Instead of being somewhat productive each day, I maneuver through pictures of what my single friends have done over the weekend for hours. “Why is she wearing antlers and playing a tuba?” I ask myself with a deep sense of sadness as I reflect on my weekend exploring various methods of removing gum from my 12 year old’s hair.
Single people pursue dreams. For years, I have been the breadwinner of my family; forced to punch the clock daily so my children don’t have to starve. My artistic soul yearns to be free of its PC and keyboard cage. I can’t pursue dreams! I want to pursue dreams. Do I even still have dreams? If I were single, I’d be able to quit my nightmarish day jobs. I’d live off stale office donuts and cheap beer so that I could one day realize my vision of writing and directing a Las Vegas show of Wallstreet with ice dancers.
Single people get tattoos and new clothes! Every cent that I earn goes straight to my family. The days of frivolously spending money on tattoos of pelicans eating pierogis, motorbikes, and designer purses are long gone. Instead, I am forced to pay for boring things like groceries, health insurance and education for my children. When I was single, I often skipped paying my monthly gas bill for a new dress and a sexy pair of 10-inch heels that would make my feet bleed.
Single people are sexy. They get on with their bad selves. They still have a sense of style and flair. They have sex in dark alleys (always in leather), fast cars, and beaches (only in white blouses and denims). They take days off of work just to indulge themselves in the pleasure of their lover’s skin. They are beautiful in the mornings when they wake up, tousled hair, hard bodies, and the ability to whisper to their lovers without smelling like the Thai food from the night before. And when they have lost the spark they once knew, they toss their paramour aside for another.
Single people jump out of planes because they can. I am too much of a jellyfish to ever jump out of plane or kill a spider, but even if I did, I’d have to “consider the children.” Even for actions that don’t include extreme sports, I have to stop and think about how it would affect or reflect on my family. For example, I’d love to quit my job, steal a car, drive to a small town in Mexico and snort a mountain of cocaine off the back of a 25-year-old hooker man, but I can’t. If I did, my husband would lose his job from alcoholism and depression. My daughters would likely end up runaways addicted to amphetamines in a grunge band (yes, I assume they’d move to Seattle). None of that is helpful to society.
Single people travel and move. Before settling into a life that will eventually become blanketed in regret, self-loathing, and bitterness, single people have the opportunity to move. I use to move! I would travel on weekends or take days off during the week to go “somewhere”. Hop in a car, get on a train, whatever! Whenever I was tired of a city, I simply packed my duffle bag, closed up my accounts, and took my $75 to the next state. The only person who suffered for these decisions was me AND the only person who had to make these decisions was ME! Now, I have to talk it over with Mister or think about the “trauma to the children” or consider a relocation plan for my ex-husband because he’d never let me leave the state with the kids. Single people, if you’ve never done this, do it now, while you still love living.
Single people can eat ramen EVERY DAY. I know that this doesn’t sound like a luxury. Most people conjure images of college dorms and empty pockets when they think of ramen. I do not. Ramen is one of the few things that I live for now-a-days. Freshly made or cheaply packaged, I love ramen. Growing up in a household with my Asian waitress don’t-know-how-I’ll-pay-the-mortgage mother, we had to learn to love (and doctor) ramen. I can’t feed my children ramen because I am aware of how the sodium content alone would give my 15-year-old a stroke. So, we go to the grocery store and “make” dinner. I waived my right to eat ramen or a bag of pizza flavored Combos every night once I committed to having a family. Instead, I am beaten down by the sounds of Nickelback as I peruse the grocery store fighting with my family about steak or chicken and resisting the urge to drown myself in the bathtub.
I won’t pretend that my life isn’t full of blessedness, warm fuzzies, and rainbows. To be honest, when I hear the words “Mom” or “my wife”, my heart flutters. Marriage and children were things I never expected because I never wanted them. I loved being single and even now, my husband and I work very hard to manage our relationship to allow me some of those freedoms.
Being single and taking advantage of your freedom prepares a person to be wiser, more interesting, to share lessons, and to remind their married friends that life can be lived passionately. It makes you a better spouse or parent, if that’s what you want. If it’s not what you want, then it allows you to be that fascinating single person who gets invited to dinner whom all the kids love and the adults envy.
In Anita’s piece, she is frank about her fears of not “checking the box” or of dying alone. I haven’t checked many boxes (no college degree, no house, no European backpacking trip) and I’m always worried about dying alone. These fears aren’t about being single, but being human. I’m able to deal with these things because of the diverse perspectives of the people in my life.
Thank you, Single People, for being prodigious, diverse, and exciting! Even if you’re none of the things I listed above, I need to believe you are because I can’t live in a world that is only about Target Superstores and endless methods for potty training. I need you, Single People, I do.