My goodness, it's been absolutely forever. I've had a busy summer, hanging with my friends, their kids and soaking up rays either at my house in Litchfield or right here at the beaches of Charleston. And I've noticed that the saying rings true, about happiness being a butterfly that will sit on your shoulder when you aren't chasing it.
I've been doing some thinking about my ridiculous romantic track record. I've been single for three and some change years now -- not just unmarried or lacking a live-in boyfriend but SINGLE. No flings, no plus-ones to call up for a movie night -- nothing. Yes, I tried Tinder for a bit and it didn't work. Yes, I tried to fan a few acquaintances into a flame; that didn't work either.
For a while, it saddened me. After all, I've been obsessed with love since I first took notice of it appearing in works of literature, classrooms and family sitcoms. I realized it wasn't the kind of love that lasted forever, but it was a taste -- enough of a taste to make me want it.
Though I didn't date as a teenager (I was entirely too awkward) I daydreamed about love constantly, even wrote entire screenplays about my crush during World History class. And, once I got to college and did start dating, I found myself engrossed in a series of relationships basically lasting from approximately age 20 until age 32. Sure, not all of those guys were serious boyfriends, but I always had an object of affection. I always had a goal pertaining to love.
Now, I don't. There's nobody I'm crushing on, nobody I'm engaged to, nobody I'm sleeping with, nobody I'm casually dating in hopes to watch it go further. I've reached the age when everyone has someone, usually a spouse, yet I'm the most alone I've been since adolescence. It's pretty ironic I guess. Here's the exciting thing though: I've finally accepted it.
It sort of happened like this. I was walking a bag of garbage to the dumpster at my condo complex recently (Don't you love symbolism?) and realized I've finally broken up with love as an idea. It took me a good few years. I'd been depressed, I realized, when I ended my last relationship at age 32. After more than a decade of having some dude at my side, it was jarring for me. Now, not only have I gotten used to no ball-and-chain, I've discovered I prefer it!
There are a few contributing factors to this. One: I watch other people in relationships and marriages and they seem sorta annoyed with their partners a good chunk of the time. No offense. Two: I'm a social butterfly and I'm selfish. How did I not realize it sooner? Three: I can redevelop my own idea of love now, because I've let the old one go.
I'm well aware that this might mean I stay alone for even longer; it could take time to rewrite the idea of love from scratch. But I think it'll be worth it, because the old idea I had was not working. Plus, I have other kinds of love that aren't the romantic kind. Sure, sometimes I still feel lonely. But just like other mood swings I'm prone to, it's unrelated to reality.
Breaking up with my original idea about love was hard, no doubt about it. But I feel so much happier than I did a year ago. Sometimes the baggage that holds us down isn't material or relational -- it's ideological.
Good thing it's in the dumpster now.