i would thank god if i believed
December 23, 2002 06:10 AM

A series of events this weekend led me to be fully, utterly grateful for the nature of my life.

I am not single. I do not have young children. Today, these are things I'm glad for.

I'm glad because my life is uncomplicated. My life isn't actually uncomplicated, but it's not complicated by either the dating factor or the itty bitty people factor. These things are not easy. People who have children make it sound like the best or most horrid thing they ever did. People who are single alternately make it sound like a nightmare and a delightful romp. They may not be wrong.

and yet beware
don't let the wine go to your brains!
for the army we fight is a dangerous foe
with the men and the arms that we never can match

But. [Oh, you saw it coming!]

Dating and childrearing have one critical thing in common: raised stakes. The second you decide to become a parent, you bet someone else's life on a genetic roll of the dice plus your hoped-for abilities to guide and parent another person. When you're single and longing for a partner (which most people I know seem to be), every person you speak to carries the potential of love - but also the potential of being a complete and total asshole. I think as you get older, this becomes more and more a potential sinkhole for your time; when you're twenty, dating or having sex with an asshole for a few months can be fun, a worthwhile investment, but give it five or ten years, and I guess you don't want to waste that time. Whether you feel that metaphorical clock ticking or no, you're less willing to balance annoyance and pleasure than you would have been years ago. Even if all you want is fun, you can't tell just by looking at someone. And so. It's up to you to divine the truth. Asshole? Or love? And, as with many things, what looks good on the outside isn't necessarily what's good for you, not even necessarily what you really want.

it is time for us all
to decide who we are
do we fight for the right
to a night at the opera now?
have you asked of yourselves
what's the price you might pay?

It was different being twenty, fooling around with people who might turn out to be liars - or worse, idiots. There was so much potential then, not even ten years ago, for life to go any of a million directions. However you feel about thirty, it still seems a magic, looming age at which one must at least be pointed in a direction, at least on a way one knows will lead to fulfillment. Given the weight of that not-so-distant milestone, I'm awed that my single friends still get up, still go out to parties or bars or bookstores with their asshole divining rods. [I should add that, though "asshole" is conventionally used only for men, I've been known to apply it universally. I am by no means excluding men or lesbians from the remarkable process of dating as an adult.]

Don't think I don't realize things are good for me. I forget sometimes that even being younger and more single wasn't thrilling all the time. I forget that I've chosen everything I have today.

[The totally inappropriate quotes today are from "Red & Black" (Les Miserables). It's just stuck in my head, and provides an amusing counterpoint.]

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