When I visit big groups of quilters to lecture or teach, it’s not uncommon for one or two of the ladies to ask me if I’m single and then, when I reply that yes, I am, they suggest that I date their son.
“Oh, he’s very sweet, very sweet,” they say, and usually something about how handsome he is. I have no doubt all these men are both, but as sincere as they are, it’s probably unlikely I’ll go on a date with one of these sons. I live in D.C., which is a long way from Omaha, say, or Pensacola. Most of the time the proud moms will sigh and say something like, “That is a problem, isn’t it?” Yesterday, this did not deter one mother.
“You are single, aren’t you, Mary? My son’s coming to pick me up after the lecture,” she said, “And you need to meet him.”
“Yes,” I laughed, “I’m single.” To humor her (good-naturedly, of course) I asked, “What’s his name?”
“Brian,” she said. “You’ll love him!”
“Well, I’m sure he’s fantastic,” I said, “but I live in DC. It’s not so convenient to date someone in St. Louis, you know.”
Without skipping a beat, she said, “Oh, he’ll move! He’ll move.”
I didn’t meet Brian. It might’ve been a little awkward, but it’s not that I avoided it; Mom and I were absolutely wiped after our third day in Missouri and we high-tailed it out of there. I should book more gigs in the D.C./Virginia area. There are many moms with many sons and no one has to move.
Recently I skimmed a book passage in which the author encouraged single people to practice “self-love.” In lieu of being actively shown love by a partner, in other words, the singles were encouraged to actively show love to themselves. You’ve surely come across this idea, single or not. But in a culture that by and large looks at the intentionally single person as suspicious, damaged, and inexcusably narcissistic, it’s downright dangerous to seriously talk about loving yourself, much less actively practice it. Are you serious? I mean, could you get any more selfish?
I have chosen to remain single since my divorce. I have had several opportunities to “couple up” and I have declined to do so. This has come with some pain for both me and the fellow in question, but I remain resolute: I am single, and I like it that way.
At this point, there is surely the reader who thinks, not without kindness, “Well, that’s easy enough when you’re young enough to change your mind — and you will.” Others are a bit gloomier: “You’ll be sorry when you’re old and alone.” And still others will resent that I proclaim my choice to be single with such unabashed satisfaction and confidence. “People are meant to be married. Who does she think she is?”
I’m quite sure that being single is, for me, the only way to really find out.
There’s much to say about my decisions to go stag, but for the purposes of this post I’m going to corral my thoughts back to the “self-love” article. The concept itself calls to mind sappy scenes: should I run a bubble bath in a candlelit bathroom and float rose petals in the tub? Should I wrap myself up like a burrito and listen to nature sounds? Perhaps self-love is something rather, uh, too private to write about here.
Many of the suggestions for self-love I find are based on suggestions for acts of love between a couple, and those are often sappy and unimaginative. (To wit: rose petals in a bathtub are gross. They turn into blood-colored spitballs that stick all over your wet, naked body. Romance fail.) I pride myself on being a pretty creative lover of people, so when it comes to loving myself, I’m creative about that, too. Because it’s true that if there’s no one to be sweet on and no one to be consistently sweet on me, I’ve got to do something about it.
I’m naked a lot. One of the first things I do when I come home is take off all my clothes. The naked body is so great! We all have one. Being naked and putting the dishes away is one of life’s greatest pleasures, as long as you don’t drop a glass, of course. Being nekkid as a jay-bird is kinda silly, and it’s very important when you’re single to not get too serious about it. Besides, my poor body has been through a lot and it’s a loving thing to let it be visibly more healthy today than it’s been in awhile.
I keep my house quite tidy. If I lived with my best friend, I would keep the house very tidy and clean because I love my best friend and that is the right thing to do. Well, it’s the right thing to do for me, too. An organized house = an organized mind. This is a fundamental belief I hold. Get me my Windex!
Admittedly, buying myself flowers is not the most creative act of love, but boy does it work. I have fresh flowers in my home, always. Always. I love the gladiolus and I have fresh glads as long as I can throughout the seasons. They are tall and sumptuous, intelligent. The flowers go from these tight little fingerlings to these papery, sashaying blooms and I buy the green ones, the red ones, the white ones. I love them and they love me right back.
And whenever I come home from a trip, whenever I’m gone all day and I put the key in the door, whenever I feel like I’ve been away physically or mentally for too long, I enter the hallway and greet my condo with a, “Well, hello! Hello, my darling! Welcome home! Yes, you are lovely, lovely, lovely!” or some variation on that theme.
Who can I miss? What could be wrong with it? And who could ever regret these days?