February 13, 2010
For the past three years I've made sure to plan a vacation over Valentine's weekend and it's been great, like a little love letter to my wandering gypsy side. This year I couldn't really plan anything because I knew there was going to be at least some promo for my book and nothing was firmed up until recently. It's been good, though, it's given me an opportunity to try and get my finances smoothed out (moving is very expensive!) and it will be nice for a change to have some vacation time left at the end of the year. Usually I use it all up by March!
And my parents are coming in April or May and I want to be able to visit with them, so I won't be traveling at all until perhaps this summer. Part of me has been very content to just stay home and hermit, which I can do like it's an Olympic sport. I realize now that going on trips is good for me in an unexpected way, it gets me out of my house! And out of my head. I tend toward the habitual, and so when I am being a homebody I get more and more reclusive. A trip here or there a few times a year keeps me open to new possibilities, new adventures.
People are often like that, I think, we get used to something and keep doing it until jogged out of the rut. It's not a bad thing. I'm perfectly happy at home, I love being silent and productive on my little tasks, writing or knitting or just cleaning the house, making some new recipe. My home life is a sanctuary. I love my animals, I love keeping myself entertained with a good book or a funky knitting project or just re-arranging all the stuff in my bathroom cabinet. I suppose some people find that totally strange, how can one be perfectly satisfied and content alone? But to me it's the epitome of peace.
Traveling is good for me to get me away from my safe, contained place and jolt me into the unexpected. It's the best way for me because it feels like adventure, and it makes you appreciative of the world and even more grateful to return to your own bed. Before I recognized what an introvert I am I used to force myself to go and do and see every weekend something new and it chipped away at my energy and I felt frazzled. This new life seems to be working better for me, it's certainly less scheduled and eventful but gives me room for those bigger escapes a few times a year, instead of always trying to mix it up each weekend.
The ads on TV and the radio and the huge displays in the grocery store around Valentine's Day remind me that our programming is all geared towards pairing up. Our culture isn't built around single people, the single lifestyle. Pairing up is what's more common and of course it's a good part of life, too! But there are a lot of paths to happiness. Finally I really understand that being solo isn't the same as being lonely. It took me a long time to get it. Five years ago when I was going through my divorce and even the whole year or two afterward my focus was still on a man, some man, whoever he might be one day in the future. There was a sense of my life suspended in waiting, in the time between companions. It never occurred to me I would find happiness as a single person. It simply never dawned on me that I might consciously choose to be the captain of my own ship for a while.
What a surprise to discover my best companion is me! All that time I spent wanting somebody to complete my life, expecting that I would need to find another man to add peace or love or contentment. For so long that was the goal -- fix myself so I would find a great guy -- and all the other pieces of my life (my job, my hopes, my goals, my desires, my home, my clothes, my social life) were just a framework to get myself into another relationship.
Oh -- and thinking I had to wait until I met a man to travel again! It wasn't obvious to me that I could do all this on my own, or that I could feel happiness from just doing well at living my life. I was gobsmacked. I had no frame for the mental picture, I carried inside me an expectation that really good vacations happened with family or with a husband.
It was astonishing to discover I prefer traveling alone. Dude - I LOVE IT. I love relying on myself to make plans and I always come through for myself. I work hard when needed and leave the rest up to happenstance and magic. It's a leap of faith -- faith in me, and faith that I can handle whatever weird situation the travel gods have put me in. I love the freedom of possibility. I love the knowledge that wherever I am I will laugh and so will the person holding the boarding pass, especially when they see my godawful driver's license picture. That piece of work is a built in laugh-a-tron. I believe life gives you what you want and what you need. And at home I like making the big decisions, I like knowing I can depend on myself, I like being resourceful and not always knowing how it will come out.
That is how my singledom has unfolded. There's no proof of a great plan. No proof I get to see Roy reincarnated. But I am single with the Universe getting my back. We're not alone, we have ourselves and our spirits behind us. When a vacation goes wrong these days it's not because my husband let me down or I failed, it's just part of life. I turn it into a funny story. And now I can't imagine it any other way, I can't imagine ever going backwards and expecting someone else to make me happy. Happiness is an inside job. How can any other human being ever look inside your heart and see what will make you happy? Especially when most of us don't even know ourselves? I love the idea of lifting yourself up to possibility. I am hopeful, I am optimistic, and I think pure hope can dash fear. I think life is wide and we are small.
I would have never guessed any of this. It's a revelation. I know it's not everyone's first choice, and how I landed here is a mystery even to me, I was so dead set on hooking my wagon to someone else's for so long that I'm as shocked as anyone to be a single woman all happy and stuff. But it's a very good place to be for me. Coupling has never felt as good to me as independence feels.
Listen: I'm thrilled for those who meet someone that sets their heart on fire and makes their life colorful and full. And I'm relieved to see not everyone has to follow my path to be happy. There are so many roads to personal fulfillment, even ones I never expected. I'm happy for all of us, those who fit the bill and those of us who wandered a bit. We create a new happy each day, each in our own way. The woman who chooses to be a single parent. The woman who chooses to divorce and live with her partner without a contract. The woman who marries another woman. The man who proposes to his boyfriend. The woman who falls in love at 63 and meets THE ONE and he's only 57. Or the woman in Los Angeles who has three cats and a room of yarn and is astonished to discover she is happy all alone, for once in her life she has the say on everything and it makes her heart sing. She feels generous because she now has just enough.
To all of them I say thank you, I love you, keep on keeping on.
To all those people, I wish you mad Valentine love.
To my single friends who feel what I'm saying here (minus the hokey kumbaya stuff) ...it is good to be alive. And all the chocolate will go on sale tomorrow!
Posted by laurie at February 13, 2010 1:02 AM