I had the row of seats to myself, which is always a coup. The plane rumbled into life on my seventeenth flight of the year, and as we left Belgrade, where I’d had an hour’s layover, I smiled. I don’t mean internally, the way we often smile in public – which is to say, that we don’t. I let my cheeks shift and my breathing slow and I had a feeling wash over me that concluded with a clear, specific thought. Thoughts don’t come ordered, linear, sensibly. They crash up like waves, elbowing their way into consciousness rudely and abrupt, like drunk toddlers, and so I don’t know where, exactly, the path had been laid for me to consider, quite out of nowhere: the reason I am not in a relationship is because none of them have been good enough for me yet.
Huh, I thought, my body prickling with attention. That’s… interesting.
I always thought it was me. My "fault".
I’m really good at airports. I feel very much myself in transit: the journey is the point, not the destination. I enjoy knowing I have every last thing I could need in the suitcase in my hand and the wanderlust in my veins; that I am prepared and ready for an unknown. Any unknown. I thrive on that. I worked hard for that: that knowledge of self-sufficiency. And I think that’s what I’m getting at. My prize is that I get to be who I am, and I can’t help but suspect that to be in a relationship, even a casual one, I’d have to surrender a part of it. I know I would, based on the men I’ve dated. The men I’ve loved. I would say I pick the wrong ones, but that’s not it. I don’t. I know some truly remarkable men, but I have yet to meet one who fits properly. Who fits the life I’ve risked so much to design, so that I might live before I die. The one who can match the appetite I have for every single day, who will meet me not only halfway, but the whole way. The one who will slip into my life.
A man can say that, and be applauded. Girls are supposed to be more flexible than that, aren’t they? Well. Not me.
I’m not sorry about that any more, is how I started to unravel the conversation with myself. I’m not sorry that none of them have been right for me, because it means I get to keep doing what I’m doing.
I have blessed freedom. Adventure. I am the architect of my own fate, the hand drawing my own destiny: my version of those things is this iteration of digital nomad-ism I am drawn to. Am trying. Am in love with. Mama calls me a butterfly: you can’t catch me, but if you stand still long enough I might come perch on your shoulder. Then I like to fly away again. To commit to somebody, right now, would be to cut off a wing. Then where would I be?
No. I’ve come too far to shape my needs to another’s.
I’m saying, I think, that my lifestyle is too hard-won to share. For so long it’s because my life was so full, so riddled with glorious, spontaneous goodness that the whole deal was the it felt “less than” because there is nobody consistently by my side. I thought something was missing. That’s what I’d been sold. The idea that if we’re not in a two it’s not as good as it could be.
Nothing is missing.
That’s what I was thinking on the plane. I was thinking, I have everything I need. Want. This is the life of my dreams. How funny that the feeling I have been chasing doesn’t look like I thought it might.
(Does it ever?)
“You have such a gorgeous happy twinkle in your eye at the moment,” she wrote to me. “It says, ‘Yup, this is who I am and I like me, and I know how amazing I am and I’m comfortable with all of that."
She’s right. Everything that she said, she’s right.
In a world where even “Trailblazer of the Year” Amy Schumer writes a film where she gets the guy in the end, I’d like to be the voice that says hey. I’m single, have been for years and years, and you know what? I’m better for it.
Maybe not always, but now. Today. As I sit in a Turkish café, here on a whim, planning where to go next.
I’ve treated men as a scare resource, in my mind. That they are, somehow, “running out”, and so marriage is a security against loneliness. I cannot join my name to another because I am afraid of being alone. If anything, in being alone I am now less afraid. I wanted to be with somebody because I was scared. I’m not scared, lately. I’m braver than I’ve ever been. More myself alone than I could be as a girlfriend. A wife. More happily selfish than I could be as either of those things, too.
Want to say something about this post? Talk to me!