Saturday, May 12, 2012

On Being Single

It's a bit of a curious thing, choosing to go home alone. Everyone I know was raised with the Disney mentality that your life's sole purpose is to find that one stalk of wheat among the chaff of the world that was destined to be your perfect match, then get to work churning out babies post-haste. If you have half a sense of the world around you, you know that's seldom the case, and if you've been around long enough, the concept of "the one" generally fades to a memory of a gullible former self.

I'll stop for a moment here to explain, if you put all your eggs in the Disney Prince(ss) basket, the previous paragraph is probably very sad; it was for me when the realization hit me, like being slapped in the face with a cold halibut. I rationalized my divorce in a way, telling myself that maybe she wasn't the one. Thinking back, I don't think that exists, so of course that line of reasoning seems a bit pointless. Since then, my relationships with the opposite sex have been eye-opening, every one. Some short-lived, some more lengthy and thorough. Some more passionate, some intellectual, though no less emotional; and let's call each of them relationships, because that's what they were(are). Through each I've learned more about myself and my expectations, my flaws, my limits, and how those can react in the volatile pool of emotion that is human romantic interaction.

You don't really get to choose when the spark of interest will hit you. It's never a convenient time or place, and to be honest, it's rarely even a good idea in general if you look at it on paper - complications galore. So you're left to decide whether to let it fizzle out or to talk to the nice girl, and there begins the ride. I won't get into where this one went right or that one went wrong. Most of my breakups have been much less painful than the stories would have you believe. Most of them just ended with something as simple as the girl becoming serious with another fellow, therefore she needed to stop seeing me, or we just stopped being able to get together due to conflicting schedules. Of course sometimes tears were shed, some more than others, but that brings nothing new to the conversation.

What I want to talk about is why, walking home tonight, I was glad to be strolling solo back to my cluttered little apartment. It's always seemed a bit cyclical to me, the breakup / healing / dating process. It seems to get easier in some ways, though in other ways I want it to stay difficult - as I told the judge, "Sir, I don't plan on ever getting terribly good at filing divorce paperwork. It sounds like too much practice is involved." Still, after every time it didn't work out quite as I'd hoped, the crushing weight of loneliness and inadequacy would return, for a time at least. This last time was no exception, and in fact may become exemplary in that no amount of effort on my part could have helped.

Part of tonight was just sensory overload left over from this week - circumstances led me to hang out with several girls I'd once dated, to have dinner with my ex-wife and her baby, to find myself needing to spend a large sum of money on my car, and to discover that my mother had a heart attack. All in all, I'm pretty much just done with this week, but three of my dearest friends graduated college this week, one with a Juris Doctorate from OU Law, and every one of them had me beaming on their behalf. These are my dearest friends who are doing something very real to make the world a better place. So my place was with them.

Standard bar hopping led to fun stories with friends, tales of debauchery among those of workaday items. I talked to several girls tonight that I'd always found cute/funny/smart, and somehow tonight it clicked a little differently. All I really wanted was to go home to my little apartment in the arts district, the one with too much stuff and the wrong kind of furniture, and curl up and go to sleep in beautiful silence. As I walked, I remembered that the last time I got this feeling was shortly before I got myself into a year-long emotional entanglement (from which I learned much, and for which I still hurt some). I thought to myself, maybe this means I'm ready to get back into something. Then I thought better. I realized, this is a good time to work on me. If something wonderful happens in the meantime, I'm up for the challenge, but I owe it to myself not to get sidetracked too far.

I think that's where it lies, maybe. I live for me- and while I could perhaps live *with* someone else, the thought of living *for* someone else strikes me as feudal and oppressive. Some might call this notion unromantic, but I call it adult. That Disney concept of belonging to someone, submitting oneself to servitude as routine strikes me as repulsive. I'm now officially in a good place. I don't need someone - with that outlook comes bad decisions. So long as you need someone (anyone), you're bound not to act in your own best interest. Now that I focus on myself, to better myself for myself and for mankind, any entanglement I should find will be because of that, rather than for frenzied grasping. I'm not in a hurry, though, as I wasn't on my short walk home through the arts district, taking my time to stop and admire the graffiti on the way home to the apartment whose lights would stay on until I'm done writing, whose music would play until I decided it was bedtime, and whose single tenant would go to sleep this night utterly satisfied in his flawed but promising existence.


  1. Excellently put. Even in what seem to be monogamous relationships of indefinite length, the struggle to remain independent and find out who you really are goes on. Watch out for a "pink cloud" effect, though.

  2. What a sound and stable place to find yourself. Those moments are the subtlest and yet most powerful of realizations. I had something similar in the middle of April while at the opening of an art show, in which I was so pleased to be involved. I walked in the strange warm air, leaving way earlier than everyone else, and it struck me that not once in the evening had I harbored even the slightest hopeful desire to be paired, or the slightest self-pitying regret at not being so. It was delightful. Yes, well put by you! Also, I've read that the grief that comes from breakups creates a distinct space for a distinct type of creativity. So there's that - relationships teach you about yourself, and the breakups give you time to turn into a creative process.