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Fabulous, Not Single?

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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Single by choice

Last year, I wrote (though very little) with IFSHA’s blog. I’m recyclying those posts here before I start for 2007.

See cross-posted here.

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These days, one word that appears to dominate life at every step, hanging over like a noose and watching like a big eye in the sky is…..MARRIAGE. Nearly all my close friends are enjoying matrimonial bliss. “So why not you?” I hear my mother’s plaintive cry.

“Because…” and I stumble right there. Well…I don’t have a justification for my singlehood. Come to think of it, it isn’t a crime that I need to justify, is it? I am not married because I am single. That’s that.

I’m not single because I can’t get a man
I’m not single because I have something against marriage
I’m not single because I’m too busy

I’m single by choice. Yes, it is an option.

Matrimony is a thriving market and in a ritual-ridden culture like ours, the stakes are pretty high. Think wedding halls, think jewelers, think fashion designers, think interior decorators, wedding planners, temples and churches and what-nots, priests and singers and garland makers….to be specific there is one particular road in Chennai that is hailed by the locals as being the place to go when you get married since it provides every possible thing that you could need for a wedding. I assume that comes with a fine-print caveat that says

“Brides and grooms not included with package”.

Now it seems to me like the whole world is plotting to pull me into this set-up. After all, seen from the above point of view, I must be another valuable piece of raw material that they just can’t wait to get their hands on to polish and package and present as a finished product with the tagline of “New Bride”.

I’m not cynical about the process. I’m not even against the instituation of marriage. After all, my parents (among other couples I know) have been happily married for 28 years. As I see it, I have a good life. A caring family, lots of good friends, a good job, interests and hobbies, a social life and no major problems. A spouse will do one of two things to this. He will either take away some part of it…..with inevitable loss of freedom, additional responsibilities, financial worries and adjustments major and minor to attitudes, religious beliefs and behavior. Or perhaps it will be an ideal situation and he will be someone who won’t feel the need to control or change any aspect of my life. That’s the best case.

People tell me that there could be a man who actually makes my life better. Personally I can’t see that happening, but in the far chance that it does….that’s a lottery ticket. I’ve never been lucky that way and I’m not about to start hoping now.

In the words of the then bad girl Rizzo from Grease,

There are worse things I could do
I could stay home every night
Wait around for Mr.Right
Take cold showers everyday
And throw my life away
For a dream that won’t come true

Well….maybe it will. But a woman can have lots of dreams. A good husband could be just the icing on the cake of a perfect life. I’ll work on getting my cake ready. Plain sponge cake tastes just as good as gooey chocolate cake.

Its going to be a long way to when people can accept singledom as a perfectly natural state of being rather than an aberration to society.

Solitaire

I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don’t know where it goes
But it’s home to me and I walk alone

I finished work a little earlier than usual. On an impulse I went window-shopping instead of heading home. I bought some music and browsed other stuff I’d never spend money on. I played ‘Boulevard of Broken dreams’ 3 times continuously at the listening booth. I chatted idly with the store staff for a few minutes and then drifted out.

After awhile I wandered into a coffee-shop and sat down. I enjoyed a long, solitary cup of mint tea while listening to Sting, Pink Floyd, ghazals and some 80s pop all in a mixed order. I stared around at nothing much and that’s when it struck me that this was the state of contentment that I so seldom achieve. It is moments like this that make it worthwhile being single.

There was a real light-heartedness in me that came from not having to explain myself, not having to adjust to someone else, not having to sell the idea of me as I really am. The relaxation that I was feeling came from the rare situation of being silent not out of submission or fear but simply because silence was beautiful.

I realise that I’m biased towards relationships, comittment, love and men by a rather bad and not necessarily typical relationship from the past. Still, we learn from the pasts that we have lived and this is mine. I find that I never achieve the kind of still clarity with other people, that I do when I’m alone. I find other people don’t always stimulate my thought processes…rather they muddle them. Men are like the slow poison, addictive at first but eventually I have to sort out the hangover myself.

I enjoy being alone. I do like conversations with other people…….but those are like movies for me, pay the price of admission and don’t make it too much of a habit. A weekend of being all alone at home, no TV, only some music and a good book and the housework….that really is an ideal vacation for me.

I am probably a loner. And I am actually blissful that way.

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