It's National Singles Week (Sept 21-27), for those of us who are everything but married, who now comprise the majority of households, according to latest stats. Because we're marrying later and living longer, many of us will spend most of our adult lives single. And if we outlive our spouse, there may be many years on our own.
I married twice: very early (we grew apart) and very late (we grooved), with a long single mom-dom and dating period in-between. Since my second husband died in 2001 I haven't dated much, nor do I feel the urge. I've had plenty!
A great marriage may be best of all, but most of us fall far short of that. And being in a so-so (or less-so) marriage, compared to being happily single, is a no-brainer for me. Marrieds who feel sorry for singles who seem lonely should realize that some singles feel sorry for marrieds who seem lonely. At times in my first marriage I felt more lonely than I do now.
But it isn't easy. We are a couple-centric society. One of the most graphic memories was when I took my son to his upstate university, and I happened to drive by the New York State Fair. I decided to drop in and realized after a while that of the thousands of people around me, accept for an occasional spouse waiting by a restroom, I was the only one by myself. I felt like a Conehead from an early SNL skit. I was not quite on the same wave length as the rest of the fair. How come nobody else went there alone? There were fun things to do and see, like touching a rooster's comb and eating fried ice cream. I spent a happy couple of hours and drove on, perplexed.
A few more thoughts on being single:
Some couples have dropped me from their social life for no other reason than I'm on my own. It's galling at first, so I just developed some great single friends, and do more fun things to make up for it.
People tell me that I seem happy, married or un. And I think that it's true that if you're a positive type, you'd probably be ok in any situation, and if you're negative you'll be less happy in any situation.
Sure there are moments, often regarding tech issues, one paycheck, putting on bracelets, making every single decision, not having someone always concerned about you. And some late nights in bed with my cat I think, what a waste! But I make up for these things with family and friends. I've even faced the dreaded "seriously sick scenario alone" and came through just fine, with loads of support.
I like solitude. It's a magnificent word, really. It implies peacefulness, insight, meditation. It gives me opportunity to focus, observe, appreciate in stillness, and learn things about myself I would not otherwise.
I can do what I want, and I rarely argue with myself. That makes things really peaceful.
At my past-prime age, odds are that I'll be single from now on. (Not so, you guys. Even cantankerous 90 year-olds who don't use deodorant are pursued.) So, in reaction, I'm concentrating on living totally, flat-out, fully, experiencing all I can, not waiting around for things to happen, open to whatever may come along, even if it's romance with a younger guy. (Hey, I'm not dead!) I just don't need to marry. And I certainly don't need to settle for someone who isn't a quality person.
I have a little mantra I've been saying for a couple of years: "I'm grateful for this day." I usually slip it in when I least expect it, but usually when something makes me smile and I take a second to focus on it. And if I forget to find time on one day, I say it a couple of times the next. That little thought keeps me focused on how lucky I am, unmarried, or not.
So happy Singles Week to all of you who go it alone. Enjoy! And be grateful for each day.
Lea Lane is founder and editor of the lifestyle Website sololady.com