There are many things that I don’t have in my life which most people do. Besides the fact that I don’t have a husband or children, I do want to believe that I don’t have them by choice. I did frequently agree with the notion that marriage was a “trap” of sorts but I guess I could blame that on my mother who used to tell me that once you get married, the book closes. Which could mean a few things, but I guess I had always interpreted that to me that your dreams and desires for what you wanted in life no longer mattered.
I witnessed quite a few friends of mine get married, and of those who kept in touch with me (for some reason many stopped inviting me over…but I guess who would want a single woman who lived a life like mine in Manhattan to come over to make them feel bad..whatever), many began to lead lives quite different than the life they had imagined for themselves. And I don’t believe that “being married” was what I was necessarily against, but rather being married to the wrong guy was always a HUGE fear of mine. So many people told me that once you get married, everything changes. The guy takes advantage of you, he stops wanting to do things with you, you tend to lose motivation to stay in shape and normally, the sex stops.
Well if that is not reason enough to never get married, then what is?
But those are not the only things I’m talking about which I feel as though I don’t have which many other people tend to have. I am not really in touch with my family…though we were never “close” with cousins…they lived far away and it normally had to involve a family road trip to see them. But at this point, I am now without my mother for over 12 years. Our close extended family had always just included my grandfather who died almost 30 years ago and my aunt who passed about 5 years after my mother. Besides them, we were never really close with anyone else, except each other.
It’s now at least 4 years since my brother and I were on speaking terms…and almost as long with my sister-in-law and eventually his three children. I feel lousy about it all the time, not really knowing how to pick up the thread again with the three little ones, the youngest of which I know has no idea who I even am anyway. I feel bad about his wife, but I feel like she’s suffering most of all, living that life she had never imagined for herself once she married my brother. I am sure he promised her that they would see the world (you know, those countries where you need a passport to get to), but all he gave her were the three children to take care of every day.
I also don’t really have a plan. I don’t close my eyes at night and look forward to one day retiring to a beach or a log cabin. I mean I already lived on a beach for three years back when I lived in Cozumel, so I guess I’ve already done that. And a log cabin is not where I envision myself wasting away my days. I think that if I had ever imagined a “marriage” for myself, it would have been with a man who allowed me to be me. That means that when I get a bug up my ass and I want to go on a trip, he would allow that to happen, with or without him. If I woke up one day and decided I wanted to do a complete 180 again with my job, then he would support my decision, knowing that it would NEVER mean there would be a day when I was not earning my keep.
At the same time, what about the nicer things in life? A house…why do I STILL not own that gingerbread house I’ve dreamed of my whole life? Why is that dream still so far away for me in reality? Is it because I still don’t deserve it? Is it because that’s my Ithaca…my ultimate destination so when I reach it then I’ll just die because I would have found what it is that I’ve just always wanted? That sanctuary where you can always hear the sound of water and birds singing…gentle music always playing the background (in addition to the rock music I love to blast from my speakers).
I also have never felt a sense of security. I am not talking about my safety. I have always felt “safe” whereever I’ve lived in my life. I’ve always lived smart and would never put myself in a position where I might ever be in danger. That’s not the security I mean. I’ve always felt as though my life as been moving…evolving and that nothing is permanent. Not my friends, my boyfriend, my residence or even my car. (Even my dog will die eventually, this I need to accept as well.) And it’s not that I will choose to replace any of the people in my life…I adore all of them…but I’ve never felt secure that they will always want to remain in my life. Crazy! Right?
I look back at the life…or maybe I should say lives I lead…and I can see so many different groups of friends that I’ve had who I’ve drifted away from. Friends from my neighborhood where I grew up in Brooklyn …I lost touch with them when I just moved across the bridge to Manhattan. Our lives became different and our interests changed. I began to work full-time in the daytime and attended school at night…putting a big gap between the many friends I had made as a child who were still hanging out on their front stoops or frequenting after-hour bars in Brooklyn.
Then there were the big groups of friends I made while working and while I was in school…some 150 people who all attended the going-away party I had for myself before I moved to Mexico to become a scuba diving instructor. All of them promising me how soon they would be down to visit, many of them also being divers. How many of my friends who had promised they’d be down soon to go on vacation or on a cruise, what with me living in the most popular cruise stop in the Caribbean, where you didn’t even need a passport to get off the ship! They also never visited and eventually just drifted away.
While living in Cozumel, I made friends with a great group of women (who I am still in touch with, but they literally live all over the world…London, Jamaica, Monterrey…we are very grateful to Skype for allowing us to stay in touch) and the divers who came diving with me in Cozumel…we also promised we’d keep in touch and I would still fly to Cozumel to dive with them. Even they all drifted away. So now I am in another life in Central Mexico with another amazing group of friends who I feel really keep me grounded…but I still don’t have that sense of security that they will always be in my life. And I don’t know why.
Am I afraid that they will figure out something about me that they will no longer like and drift away as well? Am I afraid their lives might take them away as well so I best be prepared for them to leave me as I have left so many people in my life? Is this what makes me think that I’m so independent when really I’m not? I just roll with the punches and act like it’s ok if they leave me…God knows how many people I’ve left behind during the many changes that seem to keep happening in my own life? Or is it the guilt that I come with that I think there really is something wrong with me which is why it’s ok when I lose touch with people, I just imagine that they must have realized what it is that makes me different from everyone else so I need to just go out and make new friends?
I see how easy it seems for the rest of the world to grow up and get married and buy a house and a car and have children…all things that never really passed in my life and I think that they make it seem so simple. Yet, not simple enough that I was ever able to figure out how to do those things…how to find that security they all seem to have that they will always be a parent/spouse/home/car owner while I’m none of those things and nothing has ever happened where I’ve necessarily chosen not to have those things…they just never crossed my doorstep. And do I just consider that to be my punishment for whatever I must have done wrong or what is “wrong” with me that made it so that none of those things happened to me?
Why should my life have been different from everyone else’s? Why am I still paving my own path in life? Why am I the lucky one who seems to be making decisions for myself based on unique circumstances because very few people are still living the same type of life I continue to lead? These are the questions for today as I prepare myself for a business trip where many people will probably put me on the spot as they will try to understand how it is that I live in Mexico while working for an American company online…by choice. I am nervous about my having to explain myself, something that I am frequently made to feel I have to do while chatting with Americans. They seem to be very curious about my life, as though it’s any of their business.
Recently, while chatting with a client, she mentioned how I seem to have the life that everyone only seems to dream about…living alone in Mexico with an adorable dog and freedom to do what I want…as though that’s not possible where she lives in the States. Interesting how so many people’s perspectives of my life never really seem to match up to how I would describe my own life or existence.