January 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
The little redheaded boy was strumming on his little, red, plastic guitar when the force of his excitement sent him crashing to the ground. As with most toddlers, he screamed, his cheeks becoming the same color as the guitar. His mother ran to the rescue, scooping him up into her arms and taking him back to her seat. She placed him on her lap at the fancy table saying soothingly, “Would you like some of my dessert? That’s what always makes momma feel better.” I sat staring into my lovely piece of tiramisu, the glow of the votive candles setting the mood, contemplating the depth of truth in her statement.
I won’t lie and say that being 28, divorced, and childless is easy, but it’s definitely not difficult in the way people are assuming. Marriage was a delight to say the least. It was better than I could have imagined. The good times and the bad were all resulting in the most complex of relationships without me even realizing it, but yet I knew to cherish every moment. And when it ended I decided that this time around I would do single right…and I would enjoy every minute. Which is why when I get that question, “And what about you? Are you married too?” I just smile and say no…because I know. I know what marriage takes. I know the good times and the bad. I know that it requires more than what people could ever imagine they have to give.
And then there is the daily pressure from my parents to wed and produce offspring. While it is not something I want for myself, that doesn’t seem to matter. I am 28; therefore I must want to have babies. While I make plans to dye my hair pink and buy an air hockey table others are deciding what kind of man I will marry and how many children I will have. But what if I don’t want to marry the man who sits closest to me at church? What if I want to adopt a child? What if I want to dye my hair pink and buy an air hockey table first before I think about wedding cakes and baby names?
But I am 28. So the dentist asks, “Why Chicago?” I reply that I do not know. Possibly just because I love it and absolutely nothing else? Quickly I am learning that answer does not suffice, not in a small town where 28 means you should be birthing your third baby. So I tell the dentist (and the many others that ask) that I am young and I can and that’s why. Whether dumbfounded by my bravery or baffled by my rebellion, they say no more. Conversations as a 28 year old woman tend to not only lack a certain fluidity but also a gracious joy. As of late, I have spent more time defending my particular status than describing it pleasantly.
So there I sat, at the end of the night, finding myself wearing a bit too much faux fur while staring into lovely tiramisu. The little boy had stopped fussing as he took small bites of an apple tartlet. I watched him with envy – no one was expecting anything from him but to grow, he was allowed to wander around with a plastic guitar and people were entertained and proud, and when he started to cry someone gave him dessert. As I watched him stick his fingers curiously in the mascarpone atop his tartlet, the tears dried and all memories of his fall erased, I smiled. I took a bite of tiramisu and thought about how fantastic 28 continues to be – I don’t expect anything from me but to grow, I can wander around from California to Michigan to Chicago, and I can eat as much dessert as I want. And just like that, by the last bite I had forgotten about all of my frustrations.