On Sunday this phrase flew into my head as I snuck out of church immediately after the sacrament, and I was proud of myself for lasting that long. The ward I stumbled into was a singles branch where the average age could not have been over 22 or 23. A friend had recommended an "older" singles ward which happened to meet in the same building but when I peeked in I saw a lot of gray hair and bald heads so I thought I was mistaken and continued to wander the halls of the building and discovered a second chapel on the opposite end of the spectrum. I sat down before I realized how young everyone was, then I wondered how long I should stay. Before the first speaker was even introduced, I fled.
I drove back to the hotel, changed my clothes and started driving down the Pacific Coast Highway searching for . . . an escape from my thoughts, a distraction from the lonelieness that has been spotlighted for me on my extended business trip. My phone doesn't ring, I get very few personal emails. I watched the waves and all the families and friends enjoying a perfect day at the beach and I wanted to join them. Then I remembered my solitary beach trip the day before which resulted in a nasty red sunburn on my back, jagged at the top where my sunscreen ended its spray, stark and straight along the bottom where the sun was stopped by my swimming suit with a couple of finger marks on the sides where I attempted to rub in a bit of the spray-on sunscreen. As it turns out, the beach isn't nearly as fun alone. There was a strong rip tide warning which I felt tugging at me when I ventured into the water so I never did more than wade in to the point just before the waves were breaking. Normally I would have rented a boogie board and been thrilled by the large waves. Somehow it didn't draw me in.
Fashion Island was another adventure in solitude that left me feeling empty. I wandered the stores uninspired and disappointed. I even stumbled onto an inside joke with TW - highlighting the fact I hadn't heard from him. Everywhere I went there were families and couples and mothers with babies. The biological clock is real, its tick getting louder each year. I have always wanted children; more accurately, I have never thought of kids as a choice, it was more of a "when" than an "if." A change has taken place, in the last couple of years I have caught myself editing out the "when" and replacing it with "if I have kids. . . ." In the past I would yearn only for the companionship of a relationship and not the fulfillment of starting a family. Now I feel both.
Is it any wonder I have been accused of possibly settling? I've been considering the comment left on this post and asked myself if I am lowering my standards so to speak due to a lack of options. I was startled by the comment but considered all the other guys I have had crushes on or dated from whom I gained the perspective of hind-sight later and realized I was lucky I hadn't settled. Settling implies I have somehow accepted something lesser or inferior as an alternative to what I deserve. Can one settle before making a committment? Was I settling when I dated guys who didn't match my standards? Or is that what dating is for - searching for compatibility and considering what ideals are worth comprimising. I am already cautious and selective, perhaps overly so. It is difficult to be objective in this area when I am lonely and don't see many options and a prospect pops up - no matter how remote.
Alone with my solitude, driving down California's scenic coastline, I questioned my expectations, my desires, my priorities. I have never had, nor do I currently have a "list" of must-haves or even would-like-to-haves; although there are certainly qualities I consider essential. The quesion is - should being pursued be a top priority? Is that an essential element? If I had multiple options or even if I just felt like there were other options out there waiting around the corner, would TW be someone I would still consider despite the fact that the boy can't send an email when I disappear for weeks?
I can't answer that.
What I do know is I am impatient, always have been. I've also been pursued in nearly every relationship in which I've ever been involved, those where I pursued fell pretty flat. When I'm pursued I usually let the boy kiss me too soon because my theory has always been to kiss every frog. But maybe that isn't the best way. Maybe it is good to slow down and enjoy the gradual progression which allows me to appreciate each small step for what it is.
No matter how alone I feel, I am grateful that my current lonelieness is expected and primarily due to being single. I recently read a book wherein the main character was lonely in her marriage yet insisted she was happy in letters and when talking with others. This dredged up some long-ago buried feelings of isolation. It is socially unacceptable and personally heart-breaking to admit you are lonely in your marriage.
Which is why I do not believe I will be tempted to settle again but am grateful for friends who are also looking out for me as well. Maybe I'm not quite so alone in my solitude after all.