I’m turning 30 and I can’t help but grapple over one question–Am I happier in a committed relationship or single? I go back and forth. And when I come to a decision, I believe my judgment to be clouded and eventually change my mind again.
As I sit here at the bar in one of San Francisco’s ritziest restaurants, I’m surrounded by a bevy of gay men. They’re laughing heartily, chattering back and forth. Question: Can they truly be happy amidst a restaurant full of couples? Because I’m not. The jazz, the wine, the cake–nothing ameliorates the loneliness. I used to think of myself as a loner, a shy girl who appreciates her solitude. But on a Friday night…the night of my 30th birthday. Mon Dieu! Donnez-moi plus de vin. I want to drown in a sea of alcohol. Because eventually, if enough is consumed, it does dull the pain.
The couples, the couples. There are so many of them. The young sweethearts holding hands across the table. The married couples out for a night on the town. They’re comfortable, at ease. I can’t imagine a passionate night of torrid sex. They’ll go back home, change into their PJ’s, brush their teeth, and whisper ‘love you’ before passing out. And then the bizarre. The beautiful middle-aged woman gazing at the crinkly, old, bald, four-eyes directly in front of her. He’s missing a tooth. Leans in from time to time, asking her to repeat what she said. Leaning in myself, I wonder if she’s gazing at superimposed dollar signs. He looks like a University of Chicago Nobel Laureate–only older.
Then I know. I realize, I’m wrong again. I’ll never sell myself out. I can only be with someone I love, someone I’m attracted to as well. I want to laugh out loud. I’m comfortable. I’m content. And this is what I dreamt of for myself after thirty amazing years.
Good news came right in time for my birthday. My sister–the most wonderful person in the world–called to tell me of her pregnancy. Therese and her husband (who rivals her in good-heartedness) are going to have the most beautiful baby. I am going to spoil that baby rotten and love it like my own. There’s just too much love in the world to feel despair–even as I question it on the dawn of my big day. I have a loving core family and an extended family whose members are more like my sisters and brothers than my cousins. And aunts and uncles who are more like my own parents.
I may be alone now, but I’m never alone for long. I spent all day fielding early birthday wishes from friends from afar. While working from home, the emails and IMs came rapidly. Someone had delivered beautiful red roses that were sitting on my desk, brightening up our open environment work space.
At this very moment, there’s no one I can call–even if I wanted to. It’s too late. But whether I have someone to come home to or not. Love is all around me. I’m so blessed. I am happy. Every sip, every bite. Yummy. This is what I wished for. Self contentment, love, happiness.
Happy birthday. Happy 30th birthday to you.