Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Life and those not in it

At Jaipur this year I met this girl. It was brief and drunken but she seemed fun. And then she added me on Facebook and we began to chat and it got funner. And so we hung out a bit. Which became a lot. And then I realized that I had met the person missing in my life. Well one of them anyway heh. She's my age, and has my problems. This hit me like a bolt when she began to tell hilarious stories of her misadventures in love and lust, and I listened to her wisecrack about the boys and what they said and what they did and how ridiculous it all was and I could hear and see myself in her. I could hear the hope that cynicism was trying to douse; I could see the despair that strength was trying to banish. And it melted me. And I rejoiced that I would finally have a friend who was:
1. A girl
2. My age
3. Physically present in my life
and most importantly
4. Would always always ALWAYS get where I came from without my having to explain it because she too was single, didn't want to be and came with her baggage of body image and weight.

Here was someone who would instantly understand the history behind a statement, and never ever say to me with the best of intentions and all the love in the world 'I wish I had your life' 'You don't know how painful it is to be married' 'God I miss being single' 'Don't worry you have time' 'You have such a great job' and all the other kind, well-intentioned and infuriating things most of my friends and well-wishers who fit the criteria of 1,2 and 3 usually say to me.

Of course there is a complication, which is largely my own fault but more on that another time. The point here is to articulate what it is I find so immensely frustrating about talking to my peers about my life, and what's not in it.

I started rereading Venetia today, a favourite Heyer of many aficionados I know, but one that has never captured my imagination. But somehow it did this time. So I wrote to my only school friend, with whom I bonded over Heyer after all, and who LOVES this one, to tell her I was reading it and it made me wonder if I'd ever find my Damerel. And she, who has her own host of problems and trouble of course, wrote back to say that Damerels don't exist, and we women are raised to think we need men, but only she's beginning to think we don't need them--they just exist to make us stronger. And for some reason that straw broke the camel's back and I proceeded to rant all over the poor girl.

You see, I was raised to think that I didn't need men at all--only I discovered that I do. And I'm not talking about boinkaboinka. Then I struggled with guilt for years for daring to be so weak and pathetic, before coming to terms with what I wanted, and understanding that everyone wants different things. Sometimes what we want is because of what we've got and haven't got and sometimes we just don't get what we want, and sometimes we get what we want and it's painful and horrible and not nice at all, but there's no way of knowing how it will turn out for anyone. My sister and I often end up unable to say anything to each other because she is immensely frustrated with her career, but she has a house, a husband and an enchanting child I never get to see enough of, and I have a life where I don't have to come home exhausted after a frustrating day at work and deal with tantrums and not have the option of eating Maggi cos I can't be arsed to cook and instead have to think of a healthy nutritious meal that I can put together in the time I have with the ingredients I have.

Maybe if I'd gotten married at 23, or any of my married friends who tell me this had gotten married at 31, we'd all have entirely different perspectives. Maybe we'd be happy if we switched lives, because of the people we are and have become. Maybe our discontents are a result of what we want and don't have making us ignore what we do have, and maybe they are to do with the people we are and what we really want from life. We'll never know. But I do know that the loneliness and emptiness of my life is painful and horrific and often too much to contemplate without losing it. Thinking that I might never have children, that when my parents die all my family will be 15000 miles away, that at the end of the day my bed will always be empty and I, the most physically expressive person I know, will live a life with very superficial physical contact--these things are not about needing men. These are about things that come with the package of relationships. If I could be gay I would try. It's not about a man. And its not about friends because one by one their priorities change--and I can't blame them for it either. How can you make time to just waste with someone when you barely have time to sleep because you're dealing with work, in laws, kids? Just like I can't blame those guys I was ranting about for suddenly not having the time and headspace for me, because they rightly devote them to their new relationships. How can I demand you don't hurt me this way when you are not hurting me; it's happening passively? And how can I wish for you to stay alone like me when I know what comes with it? But how can I not be hurt by it once again not being me and by once again being released into wider community than the close knit circle we were?

It is an innately human impulse to seek companionship, to settle down as it were, and the older I get the harder it is to deal with what feels increasingly like my inability to do so. I don't know where it stems from--me, society, dumb luck--I don't know how I can know; all I know is that it IS and I have to deal with it. And its harder to deal with when I can't be around couples (as has happened to me now) or I can't talk to people about it without having to defend so many things. I end up spending all my time with other single people, who are four years or more younger than I am, and that comes with its own attendant stress.

It's not easy to deal with the things one has to deal with in a relationship. But it's not easy to deal with my life either, unless you genuinely want to be alone. Which I don't. And sometimes it hurts me and frustrates me deeply the way people dismiss this difficulty, when I am well aware of and consciously acknowledge the difficulties in their lives. And it also hurts me how I am so bitter, how I can no longer feel unadulterated joy for the happiness in other people's lives, how pictures of my super juniors' babies on Facebook make me want to smash the screen, when I am truly happy for them.

But mostly it hurts me how I am constantly haunted by my life and those not in it.

EDIT: This song seems to help in a stopgap way =) Ironically OA introduced me to it so it, also, carries mixed feelings. Which makes it very apposite for my life after all...


  1. People should not say platitudinal things to their close friends. The end.

    That said, I can see where they are coming from. But I think coupledom is a process that many people need to go through before deciding for themselves whether it is for them or not. It is too convenient to tell people "I have had the experience for you, so listen to what i say". This doesn't work with adolescents or kids so it's hardly likely to work with adults.

    I also wonder, all these people who are married with kids but dissing it to single people, would they rather be without it really?

    1. agree about platitudes =)
      also i think just s i dont know what its like to be married with kids, but i try and understand by listening to people, they dont know what tis like to be 30 and single. 25 and single eys but its sa differet ballgame

      ps you know you;re not one of the people im saying this about right? just to be clear =)

  2. Why have I never heard this version of this song?!
    Much love is happening..
    Im going to steal for my blog, hein okay?

    1. it's a cover???? the OA introduced me to it and i have been obsessed ever since...it's AMAZING! don't really like anything else by them that much though heh

    2. No no not cover. But theres another much too poppy version I think, which I keep hearing on the radio, and I like, only so far as I am in the car. This is so much nicer!

    3. ooo interesting. its the same song? cos they have some very radio popular pop songs. like we are young.

  3. I was single at 30. I almost wrote a piece about not being able to feel happy for other's happiness (including my closest friends and relations) once. But after particularly painful periods I did find myself genuinely jaded and far less bothered. Which is when of course things clicked in perfect cliched timing. I could have been lucky, it could be me, but maybe you will get less bothered with time? Or at least find the right woman? :)
    hope that sounds hopeful and not like a platitude.
    much love!
    Venetia Is Very Eloquently Konstrukted

    1. see im waiting for the genuine jaded. ive been waiting a long time. i have lately managed to get some distance so i can actually be around people in relationships and not snarl when one friend feels the need to constantly bring his girlfriend up in conversation...but it's not living its survival, different thing.
      re woman ive said before i would but it just doesn't work!
      no is not platitude =) i know you get it too!

  4. Okay I am going to sue you for trespassing into my life and my ideas and all that I think about this, and then making them your thoughts and posting them on here...! ;) Sigh I am living each one of your words and well what can I say...I would not change a thing but yes it would be effing awesome to have a special someone in my life...but I'm 30+ and crotchety and I dunno if it will ever happen...

    1. hahaha i dont know if im glad or sad there are more like me out there! hugs. if you'd care to delurk sometime and are in delhi we can form a crochety with uncertain future club!

  5. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z2aDGlzgMyY
    Crystal Consultancy has been established to cater
    to the needs of thousands of NGOs all over India
    and is the only organisation providing various
    services in respect of 12a and 80g besides ngo
    services and guidance in the whole of India.