If you’re thirty-ish like I am, you’re probably spending most of your vacation time and disposable income going to your friends’ weddings. Since I spent much of my post-college twenties in New York City (land of the perpetual bachelor/ette), most of my girlfriends were diehard single ladies. Until suddenly they weren’t. Late this past spring, three of my closest friends from New York (only one of whom still lives there) got engaged in a forty-eight hour period. I got a call from Hong Kong in the morning, one from New York in the evening and one from Boston the next day. I was thrilled and not a little overwhelmed by the one, two, three, punch. And they were just three of a growing list.
It’s happened to me a couple of times (always with strangers, no one who actually knows me would ask this question) that when I’ve told people about my list of things to do before I turn thirty, someone will ask me if getting engaged is on it. Once I pick my jaw up off the floor, I tell them that uh, no it’s really not that kind of list. If anything it’s the opposite—this list is about celebrating freedom and independence.
But if we’re talking about my list of things to do before I die then sure, falling in love and getting married is on there. I will admit to having visions of myself as a glamorous unattached fifty-something living in Paris and taking lovers (I would even let myself use that word if I was a glamorous fifty-something in Paris) but ultimately I feel like marriage is a good thing, with the right person. My parents have been married for thirty-three years and my grandparents were married for sixty-two before my grandmother passed away. When we were going through old pictures of her to use at the memorial service, we found two photos in which my grandparents were posed almost identically, her at his right side, looking up into his eyes (way up, he was about a foot taller than she was). In both pictures they were smiling like co-conspirators, deeply in love and in a on some kind of delicious secret that only the other knew. One picture was taken shortly after their wedding, the other at their 60th anniversary. Who wouldn’t want that in their life?
And yet, I’d be lying if I told you that the fact that so many of my close friends all getting married in such a short span of time isn’t freaking me out a bit. Individually, I’m thrilled for them. They couldn’t have chosen better men and I don’t doubt for a moment that they’ve all found soul mates with whom they could have the kind of marriages that anyone would hope for. But collectively? It kind of feels like the party is over.
Of course there are times when being single can be a drag; family holidays, weddings, winter. But come on, it can be pretty fun too. I can’t really imagine going abroad for a month by myself or going salsa dancing four nights a week like I do now if I was married. And the time you spend with your girlfriends when you’re single, while it won’t disappear once you get married, it will surely change.
My friends’ marriages, of course, are not about me, but it feels a little like everyone has decided to join a sorority that I’m not sure I want to be a part of (or that I at least want to wait until senior year to rush). But I suppose someone comes along and makes it all look appealing and you change your mind. That’s how it’s gone for a lot of my betrothed buddies: it’s not the marriage they want so badly, it’s the man. They dated all the same doofuses I did, suffered all the cryptic text messages and weird boy emails (oh the grammar, oh the emoticons), went on bad dates after which the boy called every hour, amazing dates after which the boy never called at all. They dated bad boys and ones who were too young, too old, too needy, too selfish. And then someone came along who changed the game and suddenly all that other nonsense was a memory.
I guess that doesn’t sound so bad.
Check out more of Andrea’s musings at her blog 30 Things.