Thursday, February 7, 2013

Impossibly Single

I write this blog from the second floor of a bus looking out onto the bleak salt stained tarmac and the barren trees that typify a typical mid-winter day here in Southern Ontario. I just spied an old stone mill beside a river. I think we just passed Port Hope.

Being single is something I've written about before on this blog. Happily. People generally don't know what to make of the person who is single despite the fact that science is disproving the notion of everlasting love and there are record numbers of single person headed households in Canada (lone dweller households now surpass married couples!) there remains a stigma associated with the act of being single. And there are financial discriminations too.

Not too long ago I met up with someone who condescendingly said to me at her engagement outing 10 years ago: "Don't worry Orla, you'll find someone." I remember this vividly. I can almost feel the touch of her hand on my arm as she said it. That was possibly the first time I connected how patronizing society was to someone who is single. At that point in time I had over 7 years experience as a single mom, Daughter would've been 8. So many thoughts came crashing through my head at that time and now, a decade later, I am sifting through them.

Culturally, the expectation is if you have a child then it is best if there are two parents. Somewhere along the road of moral progress the notion of "it takes a community to raise a child" was lost. So this young newly engaged woman probably had her biological clock ticking and was proud to share her hope that I too would find a replacement father figure for my child and perhaps let some of his sperm get into my womb to gift him with one of his own procreation. Biological clocks are funny like that. In our modern age they seem to presume that once you're educated and employed the next task is to breed.

Also, to be fair, a decade ago her patronizing sentiments mirrored exactly what my own expectation was for my life at that point in time. I was then 35 and was dating extensively hoping to still find The One so that I could breed again. The funny thing was that every single guy who dared mention the "M" word (as in marriage) got quickly removed from the dating card line up.

And now, with my newly minted middle aged wisdom, I see myself as a person that might have a philanderer gene and I have no desire for long term monogamy. I hate cleaning my own knickers let alone a partners. And I'm wise enough to realize that the gift of choice vis-a-vis being single is afforded only to those of us able to be financially independent. We have come a long way baby. Or some of us have. I consider myself quite fortunate.

In Newfoundland they have a curious expression that captures what I and possibly many other singles strive for: a comfort. Essentially it is a fuck buddy with very few strings attached. As someone who has had fuck buddies I like the term much better but there was precious little comfort in the ones I had while my clock loudly clanged.

And one final thing. When I saw that now 30 something woman with her two small children recently I asked after her husband. Divorced. I admit to a sweet moment of revenge "karma" followed by the sincere hope that she finds the support and comfort she, like us all, need.

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