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21 more things = 42

The last post was the 21 things I KNOW at 42. At the end I said I'd consider writing 21 more things to make it 42 in total & then ...


Status Quo or That Nu-Nu? Who the hell knows...?

DISCLAIMER: this blogger neither supports nor refutes the sentiments of the above t-shirt, she just thought its very existence was funny & used it here.

On the way to work I sat on red watching a woman attempting to make a left turn at a busy intersection. She had to wait almost til her own light turned red, but this wait didn’t distract her from her larger purpose: giving the man next to her the business. This woman was clearly older, black and in her mid to upper 50’s. Her mouth ran a mile a minute with her jaw set in defense against life itself. She had the look of many older women 'round the way with her short hairstyle perfectly coiffed and her long acrylic nails painted hood rich. Her window was down and her voice was carrying across the intersection and through the whoosh of heavy morning rush hour. Her tone was sharp and her words abrupt. As she got more into her turn, contemplating secondarily whether to bogard or wait it out, I was better able to see who was at the other end of her verbal bullwhip. Next to her sat a man close to her in age, give or take a year or two, head hung “mighty low” and face frozen in a state of permanent submission. What he was experiencing in that snapshot was part of a larger picture of his world, listening to this woman beat him down in word and deed on a regular basis. He probably didn’t hear a word she said, probably stopped listening years ago.

For some reason, after they finally made their left and I was able to proceed south toward the plantation, I was taken back to a conversation had with a friend of mine over the weekend. As a married man, he’s done what was expected of him when he reached a certain age: long-term girlfriend eventually becomes the wife. Because. That’s all. Just because. Before I get into the conversation, I will say that I have a growing number of MALE friends who are stating now, years into their marriages, that marriage is a flawed concept that no one truly understands until it’s too late. Back to the conversation with my friend…we’ll just call him, uh, Young Love, said marriage is a selfish and unnatural concept. If I could guarantee a certain person was reading this right now, I can see her eyes rolling back in her head as she declares, “here we go again!” You’re right. I’m really interested in this topic because it keeps coming up, and not even because I won’t let it die. It’s such a point of contention with people that I’ve STOPPED bringing it up. I barely even participate in it when it comes up for fear of the eye-daggers and the continued loss of friends.

Since this conversation wasn’t sparked by any of my own embers, I feel it’s ok to put it on the table and see what other people are thinking. Young Love said things that I’ve considered and agree with. 1. Monogamy is unnatural. 2. It selfishly implies that 2 people will be able to grow and develop solely under each other’s nurturing eye and tutelage.. 3. Choosing 1 person negates attractions to others, or states that other attractions are not beneficial or serve no purpose in a person’s personal development. To put it short-it's a stifling state. Or can be. There were other parts of the conversation but this part, though similar to some of my own perspectives, made me think. It made me wonder why, if I feel this way too, was I willing to accept a proposal? In this instance, I have to say that while I’m not the 30-something who’s checking every prospect for his husband potential, the idea of marriage is somewhat appealing. What I hate is that I can’t lock into exactly why. I DO believe that humans are social creatures, but marriage is about, among other things, exclusivity—emotional, sexual and, I assume, financial. Got it. Just not sure it’s entirely possible or makes much sense now.

Back in the day, families were essential to the development of communities with common goals. Families were essential to a family workforce. If you have land and no one to work the land, you didn’t make a profit. If you have land, the cheapest labor is family labor. That was then. Today we’re all a part or products of a microwave society. Everything has to be quick and we need lots of options. The workforce is competitive. Post-agrarian jobs, men people were encouraged to find a good paying job and you didn’t leave until you retired. Women weren’t a part of much of that and so had a clear[er] role as homemakers. Girls were groomed to take care of hearth and home from a young age while boys were encouraged to find their trade. Now, roles are blurred and everybody’s competing for the same slice of pie. Instead of getting comfortable, personalizing your cube, we keep our resumes current with head-hunters looking for someone who will outbid where we currently work. The Internet has made it possible to connect with people around the world without an international long distance plan. We can do everything but taste each other all day everyday. The point is, we have more options and we seek them out consciously ALL DAY. We’ve moved past wondering if the grass is greener to wanting to have a lawn composed of all the grasses available. After all, why not?

What I’m saying almost sounds like I advocate being a Ho. Not true. I LOVE committed relationships. I’m just not sure that just one is the answer. Why is it so hard to fathom being committed to more than one purpose with more than one person in a respectful construct? It seems better to me than having things go down behind each other’s backs, or having to try marriage 3 and 4 times before you get it right? By then is it even right or are you just tired and decide this is it?

I don’t hardly propose to know the answer; I’m just open to the consideration of a multitude of possibilities. All this consideration might prove to be as pointless as making a gazillion To Do Lists and never actually doing any of the things on it. I could ponder for so long that all my good attraction years pass me by and leave me on the lonely end of the spectrum. I’m just curious what folks think about this as more and more people in my life begin to admit to questioning their participation in this (their words not mine) antiquated ideal. As a woman, I’m almost positive that should I be involved in something that inspires me to consider marriage, I’d probably say yes should the question be posed again. Why? Everyone around me will continue to make decisions based on what everyone around them is doing—getting married. That would leave few people brave enough to honestly seek out a different path that could potentially garner some better results. That equals no options for me. So…like them, I could potentially end up all bound by a wedding band, wondering if there was really a better choice I should’ve made. I wonder if that poor older gentleman wishes he had some other options when he chose ol' Bitter Brenda.

Le sigh…this debate is never-ending, even when I don’t have a viable debater to go toe to toe with, it rages on in my mind. Despite what my eye-rolling friend may think, I really DO wish this topic were moot. Oh well.

Watch me move.


  1. Eh, what you're saying sounds more like keeping your options open until you're sure that you've chosen the one.

    Funny thing is, in our microwave society (as you put it), a lot of people think that being with someone for X amount of time means that they have to be the one; otherwise, why did they stay with them so long? I've got a friend who seems to be on a crash course with marriage simply because he's been with his girlfriend for so long. If I could talk him out of it, I really would. He's just not ready for it, and I can already see a future where he ends up much like that man you saw on your way to Massa's fields.

    That said, we might be social creatures, but we also like security. There aren't many things more secure than to have one person dedicate the rest of their life to being with you.

  2. YES!!
    But where I get confused is, why men pick women simply cuz they've been around forever, and why women say yes simply because they've been asked?? When I was moved to say yes, it was because I wanted to dedicate the rest of my life to Him. I'm so scared of being someone's bad decision cuz they didn't think it through. I wish to be on NO MAN's crash course with anything!!

    & what exactly or, shall I say, who exactly is The One? I felt like I was with The One on more than 1 occasion, which implies that a person can be The One for the moment. But what happens when the moment ends. There's too many open ended variables & unanswered questions. Having said that, I'm positive I'll head down that path again 'cuz it's how we're wired/trained/conditioned/raised/socialized. Forgive me. This moment keeps coming back around. For my sake & the sake of more than 1 friend...I hope not to revisit it. Blame it on Young Love. Had he not brought this topic up...

  3. Beginning around my age (or maybe a couple of years earlier), the weight of societal expectations gets heavier and heavier. If you don't have a girlfriend, people start asking you why not. If you have a long-term girlfriend, people start asking you about the ring. Deal with that long enough, and I imagine most people will settle - even if they're not fully aware that they're doing it.

    This is the kind of decision where you simply can't know whether it's the right one or not ahead of time. You can only hope. The problem is that, as time goes on and you stay with the same person, a lot of little foibles get magnified. The girlfriend who you thought would bother you a bit too much when you were going out with the boys turns into a harpy harassing the shit out of you all the time. The guy who seemed like a protector turns out to be an abuser when he's had a few. The one who smoked some herb every now and again hasn't had a job in six months, and can't be awake without being stoned. So on and so on.

    I like the idea of marriage, but I don't know where it's written that The One when you're 25 is going to be The One when you're 52. I'm not saying it's impossible, but I am saying that it's asking a lot. I guess that's why so many people say that marriage is hard work.

  4. Hence me questioning the why's & how's of it all. Your last paragraph is EXACTLY what I'm trying to understand. Nothing about that makes sense to me. & sense there are no guarantees on ANYthing in this life, how & where do I find security? Or is it like Homeland Security--designed just to make you feel safe (& so therefore you are) even though you can't guarantee that either???

  5. While you were writing that, the "Oh My God When Am I Going To Get Married?!?!" terror alert went to level orange.

    All jokes aside, I think that marriage, in its purest, most idealistic form, is about faith. At some level, you have to really believe that you're always going to love this person next to you, despite the fact that you're going to find out more and more things about that person that just pisses you right the fuck off.

    The why is just because you really, really believe that it works. Hopefully. The how, on the other hand...? The divorce rate in this country should make it abundantly clear that you're not the only person having a hard time understanding how you're supposed to stay married to someone for the rest of your life.