I miss being fabulously single.
I’ve been it for so long, it has become a part of my identity. A huge, glamorous, proud-of-it, reveling-in-it part which is the one thing that conflicts with being in a relationship. A good relationship is wonderful in a number of ways. But it still involves a lot of adapting and even letting go of other things that were good in their own right. And that’s not always easy to do.
Fabulousness came to me as a concept through the pop culture interventions of SATC and chick-lit. It encompasses being successful, smart, stylish, sexy, confident, independent and cool. It is the epitome of ‘having it all together’. It isn’t quite the same as ‘the swinging bachelordom’ but it’s probably a female complement of the same thing.
It’s not that I’m not happy. It’s lovely to have someone, just have them. The closeness, the togetherness, the delightful joys of being part of a couple…I haven’t grown up so much that I’ve lost the ability to love those. It’s a fairytale dream come true. Friendship, laughter, trust, shared interests, freedom.
It’s just that this is a new shade of happy, one that supposedly replaces the older ways I devised of doing so. It may seem materialistic and frivolous but my old life was a polished, complete packaged finished just the way I wanted. I had my downers, my deep wells of loneliness and the clashes with locally accepted norms of what my life should be. I braved them all and I emerged as someone I was really proud of being.
Oddly enough, what I miss is not what you’d think. It’s not the freedom to date anyone I please that I actually miss. Really, being with the right person is so much better than twenty fun dates with different guys. But being fabulous is living the knowledge that you have truly and well put it all together all on your own. It’s the heady high of breaking the rules as well as the sheer power of making new ones of your own. It’s the solid comfort of an identity that you’ve defined for yourself, outside of your relationships. It is the arrogance of knowing that you rule the world you live in. This is not a feeling most girls grow up with. It’s not something most women ever have a chance to experience in their lifetimes. I have and it’s so amazing, I’m having real trouble letting it go.
There are times when I slip into my old self. Snarky, biting-sharp. It’s not always meanness, some of that has become part of the way I am, quite literally my biting wit. But that way of being is only possible when you’re really and truly a loner. You hold the world at a distance and it keeps you on a pedestal as well. You entertain, you protect yourself and you bask in the attention. It isn’t a bad thing. I enjoyed every minute of it and I’m not apologetic about missing it.
I still can’t get used to the idea that I don’t have to keep an eye on my watch when I’m out so I can get home by myself, that there is someone who’ll see my home safely. I’m still grappling with the awkwardness of the extension of my identity, where I find myself having to explain my new relationship status to friends who’ve been out of touch, to people I bump into at social events.
Last week I had a very brief and timed chat with Adi. It had to be since I was getting ready for an evening out and he was on his way to a date. Our schedules have not matched for a few months. Add to that, weekends devoted to the significant others, evenings for other social dos, one working while the other sleeps….and we find we haven’t really spoken in months. But it was Adi after all, so we were able to laugh about it. Then we spent the last 5 minutes of the call figuring out a time when we would both be free to talk without having to get back to work or falling asleep or neglecting our important others. Co-ordinating two busy people’s schedules wasn’t easy; now it’s four calendars to be matched.
If I’m not single anymore, can I still be fabulous? Why would I need to be, I can hear the voices of dissent ask. But that’s the crux of it. Being fabulous may have seemed like a consolation prize for being in a relationship but it turned out it wasn’t. I genuinely enjoyed the life I had and I miss those wonderful parts of it. Maybe it is possible to still be my fabulous self as well as one half of a happy couple. But I haven’t figured out that balance yet. You see, fabulousness just is such an extreme, self-involved idea, I can’t put it together with concepts like moderation and sharing.
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I think I’ve forgotten how to fall in love. When I was a kid, I took Judo lessons where they taught us to fall correctly so that we wouldn’t hurt ourselves. Tossing and throwing were a part of Judo and hence also being tossed and falling. I learnt to yank a guy forward and in a smooth maneuver lay him flat on the ground. I got used to finding the ground beneath my feet not there anymore and instinctively rolling over to flatten out into a soft landing. How come no one ever told us about falling in love safely? Yes, I am a cynic but we are what our experiences make us. It is a fact that I’ve never experienced love in any way other than dark, tearful, volatile and even violent. Each time you fall and collect bruises, each of those times makes you a little more scared to fall again. Maybe love should be like Judo. After all, I took lessons when I was 12 and had fallen often and collected my fair share of bumps and scratches. Unlearning the fear of falling was all about taking one tumble that didn’t hurt. Surprise. Relief. Clarity. And freedom from fear. It would be great to be shown how to fall in love in a way that guarantees there will be no hurt. Even if trust takes a while to come, if that one time can really happen, it will prove that such a love can happen, has already happened. But ah, we are faced with a curious problem now. Not only do I not know how to stop being afraid, I’m afraid I’ve forgotten how to fall in love. Age, experience and okay, let’s say it together, cynicism have brought in a certain burnt-outness. There isn’t the capacity for butterflies in the stomach anymore. It isn’t so much about pessimism, it is about having lost all those illusions that do make romance what it is. Is it possible to fall in love without romance? Or, even more fundamentally, can romance be separated from illusion? Where is the romance in knowing that the person sitting in front of you is as clueless and guarded, if not more, than you are? When the sparks fly and with them the thought that,
“It’s just hormones. And hormones are just chemicals. A chemical reaction, that’s all.”
…romance tends to fizzle out a bit. 30 has been about a lot of freedom. Freedom from social pressures, freedom from restrictions, freedom from inhibition. The not-knowing, the straining against the limits…all of those add to the heady tension that translates into the butterflies-in-stomach feeling. So freedom from uncertainty and limits means romance isn’t on my menu anymore. It seems like I’ve learnt how to fall in a way that I won’t break too much of my heart (oh just a little dent or two). But is it really falling in love if you don’t get in all the way?
For the first time ever,
in my conscious memory,
none of my dreams
or things that I look forward to
in the future with anticipation
have anything to do with a man.
Isn’t that something? Even if it did take me three decades to get to it.
It was so worth it.
A version is posted on Yahoo! Real Beauty.
I love this song. Unabashedly. I wish I could dance outside in the rain singing this very song. In fact, maybe I will.
I was talking to a friend about (what else?) a guy we both knew. Nothing much to tell except that he was cute and thought I was too. Attraction is a good thing, even more so when unencumbered by the social mores of committment.
I particularly loved her for saying,
As I see it, it was just a human thing.
Absolutely. It was one of those delightful things that makes you feel good to be human. Then for thought, she added,
Isn’t it interesting how we never got to wondering what he would think?
I gave it some thought and I realised it didn’t matter. Not that he didn’t matter at all to me, but just that it wouldn’t have made much difference to me either way. Is that modern promiscuity or liberalisation? Who gives a damn anyway?
Really, truly a man’s attention is a lovely thing. Several men’s attention is mind-blowing. Perhaps it is the effect of turning 30 and shutting my ‘planned life’ down but I find I just don’t have the bandwidth to worry about approval anymore.
There have been a number of times in my life that I’ve had the pleasure to think at least to myself,
Hey, it’s raining men!
Aren’t I lucky? We all are. From experience, it is just a matter of attitude. Every single time I stopped worrying about whether ‘the one’ was out there, I found myself surrounded and drowning in a thunderstorm of potentials, prospects, just-flings, men, men, men.
It always made me glow within. All that changes is that I’m grinning real wide now. 😀
God bless Mother Nature
She’s a single woman too
She took over heaven
And she did what she had to do