At a loss for words...so to speak.
I'm in a familiar place, where my sister friend lives, in the place where I go both to be annoyed and inspired, where the air is cleaner and the concept of "have to" doesn't exist. It's also where I'm cast into a world that's so different from my own, and it causes me to re-assess everything and then affirm that I've made the right personal decisions--at least for now.
This is marriage and family-ville, where youthful adults are striking out on their own, with the fond memories of growing up in close knit communities (or wishing they had) and trying to recreate that environment with a millennium twist. It's a replica of what I had when I was growing up, an extension of what exists moments away from where I live, and something I keep somewhat at bay. Family-ville often doesn't feel forgiving of its members who are simply part of but who are not adding to the numbers with husbands, wives, and children of their own. I could be wrong, but I've sensed the divide for years. It was confirmed when I was in a relationship that came with built-in children and my standing in the community felt a little more solid. I seemed to matter in a way I hadn't when I'd show up solo in previous years. With the end of my relationship also seemed to come the revocation of my card-carrying status as a person of substance in the community. Again, I could be wrong, but it's how it felt.
Now that I'm in, what I call, cultural immersion, I'm on the podium again, questioning myself from the audience on how I feel about all of this. Oddly, as beautiful as the concept of marriage and family is to me, the reality of it just does not look attractive to me at this stage in the game. I'm in my years where I think I'm supposed to be frightened about my marriageability and not ending up a spinster. I reject the concept of spinster, because it negates a woman's right to choose how her life should look. It labels me as nobody without a man and reduces me to half a person, one who has missed out on the opportunity for completion. Pardon my English, but that's bullshit.
I know individual couples with marriages that take on as many forms of the institution. From the ones who seem the most happy to the ones who tolerate each other or who agree to be roommates for the children or because they liked each other once but are too tired to try it again, I haven't come across a model yet that inspires me to want to get married. Marriage for me, when it hit me across the head, was based solely on being inspired by the person I was with to make that leap. It was a rite of passage that I was willing and excited to take based on the beauty of the partnership we had created. It was never about his bank account, how fly he dressed, what things he could provide for me. We worked well together and the love ran deep and strong (speaking only for myself since he can't represent here), we shared similar ideals and believed in the work for building a strong family. Not every man I've loved has made me feel like that. Even with all those key pieces in place, there was still something missing, hence the separation.
Some have decided I've got to be bitter, others say I'm deluded, that I can't possibly be a woman at peace with no man. These are people who clearly believe in spinsters. Instead of steeping in bitterness, I feel more like I'm doing research for my doctorate degree in successful relationships.
I'm seeking the situation where husband and wife feel like equal partners in a joint venture with a common goal. I'm looking for a man and a woman who have their own life's work and come together in support of each other instead of forcing one person to make a decision to sacrifice what s/he wants or needs out of life for the sake of the pursuit of the other partner's dreams or the raising of children. I've seen the couples that are pinching pennies and the ones with all the material comforts one could ask for, and neither seems any happier than the other. I'm sure it sounds like perfection is what I'm chasing, but that's not the case. I'm looking for the instruction manual for the relationship that honors women in more ways than giving her shiny rocks for others to admire and make assumptions about her happiness. I want the man who recognizes he is not the babysitter when his wife is away, but who wants to have his children with him in order to show and teach them the world. I want the relationship that provides me space to grow as an individual so that I'm moved to bring the benefits of that growth to my union.
More than anything else, I'm seeking the space that doesn't shrink me like so many violets and allows me to be wholly who I am. I am rough rugged and raw, soft and creamy at my core, and I want to be all of that at once, not doling myself out in pieces and parts based on what I've been told is acceptable with one person and perhaps not the next. I need a partner who will match me love pound for love pound, because if not, I'll burn you alive in the fires stoked by my passion. That ain't even sexual. I need a man who shares my vision, even if parts of his path may be a little different from my own. I want to look at whoever He is and be reminded why I made the best decision of my life. I want to be moved to do sappy stuff like renew my vows publicly every five years, but certainly privately everytime I call your name.
I may have this all twisted. But what I don't have to contend with is looking at my partner and wondering where did the love go, settling somewhere around brotherly like. That concept depresses me. I may not know what it's all about but I'm not busy trying to figure out what I'll have to do next to contend with what drives him but excludes me and leaves me with all the particulars of running a household. I don't have to question whether our collective dollars go far enough, or when my next moment of solitude will come. I don't fall in the toilet in the middle of the night, step over his clothes in the middle of the floor, keep running lists in my head about the shit I asked him to do but still hasn't been taken care of, have to care whether I've cooked a balanced meal, or decide what bills will be covered this month. I'm responsible for my own rise or fall and no one goes down for the count but me. In the same token, perhaps there's no one right there to pick me up when I fall. But I've gotten good at picking myself up, brushing my own knees off and getting back in there for the fight. I feel like it's growing me up...perhaps for the companionship that looms in my future. If not, I can't cry about it. I've seen greater women than I've even hoped to be live without husbands and children and create full lives. It is possible.
The key to this may be that this is a choice, not an uncontrollable circumstance. For that, I am thankful. Until my mind changes about all of this, y'all keep doing what you do, but don't forget to...
Watch me move.