Friday, March 06, 2009

Abby Normal

Last Saturday I was in a particularly good mood after getting up early enough to pick up Starbucks on my way to volunteer. This is unusual because volunteering begins at 7:30am every Saturday. I never have time to get my caffeine fix in the morning, and for obvious reasons I am rarely in a really good mood while I'm there. Not being a morning person, I don't even think I'm fully awake by the time I leave which is usually around 11:00am.

But last Saturday (with the help of a vanilla latte) I was jovial, I was happy, I was laughing and loving on puppies, there were two very interesting (read: gross to normal people) cases that I got to be a part of... it was a very good morning. And so I was joking with the veterinarian that I volunteer for.

Let me tell you this, if I am rarely in a good mood in the mornings, the veterinarian that I volunteer for is NEVER in a good mood in the mornings. It's not that he's mean, or that he's angry... he's just never really happy. He's nice enough to me, and on most days he's got the patience of Job when I'm questioning him on why we're doing this or what that possible diagnosis is. But, I hardly ever see him smiling, and Lord can I NOT get that man to laugh. And of course, if I can't do something, it becomes my main mission in life. I will get this man to laugh or I WILL DIE TRYING.

So Saturday my happiness was spilling over into "sparkly Emily" mode. The mode that makes people around me laugh, has no room for awkwardness or sadness or anger, and generally makes my day a good one. I'm pretty sure this mode is 99% of how I roped my friends into being my friends. Then they were introduced to "evil Emily" or "angry Emily" and it was too late to renege on our friendship. (Insert evil laugh here.) Regardless, last Saturday I was using this extra energy to finally make Dr. Veterinarian laugh.

So while we were squeezing a cat (long story) I kept up the teasing and the joking, occasionally making self depricating comments, all in the hopes that the man would chuckle. I failed. Everyone else was laughing, but the man wouldn't even crack a smile. Then, after commenting that the cat was high maintenance, a conversation followed where I said, "Who me? I am the very picture of low maintenance." This is, of course, completely false and was only said to at LEAST get a smile and a funny comment back. I'll sacrifice myself for humor. It's okay. I'm a fun target. What Dr. Veterinarian said, however, stopped me short.

"Oh really? Why aren't you married then?"

The joking continued because if there's one thing I've learned about humor, it's that hesitation will kill it dead on the floor in front of you. And there's nothing more awkward than dead humor.

But the comment made me think. And think I did. A lot. Dr. Veterinarian and I are about as completely different as two people can be. Despite our mutual love of animals, I don't think we have a thing in common. And while I wish that people would never judge me based on their values and what they perceive my life to be, I know that it's going to happen occasionally. Everyone in my life is not going to know all the ins and outs of Emily. Sometimes a quick judgement is all people have the time, or the information, to make.

So a single female, living with two dogs and a cat, I mean, obviously her life isn't fulfilled, right? She would yearn to be married. If she's not, well, there must be something wrong with her. Because she's young, but aging. Her time is passing. She must be desperate to be married at this point.

Obviously I can't know that that's what he was thinking. But based on our previous conversations, I know that Dr. Veterinarian and I view life very differently. I also know that his view is not that much different from other more conservative people that I have met. And all at once, it made me very very sad that I'm getting to the age where people are going to think that there's something wrong with me because I'm not married. (Wait until they find out I've never been married. Dear God! She must be a leper!) I mean, I know that this viewpoint exists because a lot of single women really WANT to get married. And if they're not, well...
So I started thinking about why I'm not married. I can't say it's because I never wanted to be married. Obviously at one point I did. But it was an extraordinary stroke of good luck that it didn't work out, because I'm free to choose paths for my life now that wouldn't had been an option if I had tied the knot then.* And I can't say that there's nothing "wrong" with me because I obviously have my fair share of emotional baggage crazy. But last I checked, I had all ten fingers and all ten toes, and while I may not be "normal" I don't think I'm too far left of center. On top of that, I am currently in a relationship - what's up with that? It's been long enough...why don't I have a ring on my finger? Dear God, am I wrong? IS there something wrong with me?

The boy and I are still working on things, but right now... if I wanted to be married right this instant... am I the type to wait around until the boy decided to ask me? I don't think I am. I think that if getting married was something I really wanted, I would pursue it the same way I pursue all things in life that I decide I want. With a relentless tenacity until I reached my goal. (see: deciding to run the mini-marathon, or alternatively: deciding to be a veterinarian.) If it happened right now, the boy got down on one knee, would I get married this year?

I don't think so. That's not to say that I wouldn't say yes to the boy if he asked, but I think he knows it's not the time. Right now I love my life. I love the freedom I have to completely change my career goals - go through a "life overhaul" if you will. I love the freedom to be able to pick a school that's far away if they accept me. I love that I don't have to consider anyone else's future but my own when I make my decisions. Don't get me wrong - during the difficult times, I still wish I had made this career choice at eighteen. But since I can't turn back the clock, I've got what I've got, and I'm excited about it. So where does marriage fit in?

Like any girl I love the romance and the companionship of dating a monogamous relationship, but I think that one of the side effects of not being married yet is that I'm selfish too. I've had all this time to focus on me, and what I want, and I guess I figured out that being married is not one of the top things on that list right now. Somehow, I figured out that if I'm not married, I'm still okay. My life can still be fulfilled.

And I'm lucky I found a guy who's willing to wait to get married as well, huh? I mean, he's got to know that right now he's second in line to what I'm trying to do with my life. That's not a very easy position to fill, is it? If I move away, we've discussed that he's not coming with me. And that means either a really long break, or a break up. But right now, if that's what I have to do, I'll do it. And apparently, if that's what I need, the boy will work with it.

So why am I not married yet?

Because I'm lucky. Because I was lucky enough to escape a situation that would have ended horribly for me, and I'm lucky enough to have found someone who's patient and supportive enough to let me achieve my goals before we begin setting our goals.** It's definitely not the norm, and if that means that some people are going to think that something is wrong with me, I guess that's just how it's going to have to be.***

*This doesn't mean that I still wouldn't punch him if I got the chance :-)
**He sounds perfect, right? He's actually paying me to write this blog.
***Seriously, though, 31 isn't old enough to be considered "spinster" is it?


alisa said...

Oh shit, where do I start?

First of all there is nothing wrong at all that you are 31 and NOT married (GASP ... whisper ...)!

But I too, as I am so so close to the fabulous decade that begins with a 3, have thought your statement: "And all at once, it made me very very sad that I'm getting to the age where people are going to think that there's something wrong with me because I'm not married."

The thing is my dear Emily, (and I make this statement with no intention of offense to any of your married readers) I admire what you are doing. While I have many friends who are married and happy, I also have more than a few who are already divorced or wish upon all wishes that they could get a divorce. They married too young. They didn't grow as a couple. Once they found out what they wanted as adults - they didn't mesh anymore.

So if there is something "wrong" with following the path you are on, then I don't want to be "right."

And I'm emailing you the rest of my thoughts that are not appropriate for the blogosphere.

Jaclyn said...

I'm just excited there's a nod to the fact that you and the boy likely have a future together. That's a big step!

zlionsfan said...

I, for one, don't particularly care what people think about my marital status.

Besides, there are at least a couple of things that run rampant throughout my family (let's leave out the possibility of crazy for now). I already know I have one of them. If divorce is another one, I have to be really sure before I take that step anyway, because the odds are most certainly not in my favor.

So I think you should not worry about what other people think about your life. Sometimes other people forget that your life didn't start out just like their lives, so it can't end up like their lives.

Carrie said...

Personally, I am so proud of you going back to be a vet. I admire that trait about you and know that it's something I probably won't ever do. You didn't take the approach that I did before we had kids.. the "I'm too old to go back to school" mentality, and you know what, you aren't... you've got your whole career ahead of you and you'll LOVE it once you get through the challenges of school, and that's a feeling I'm afraid I'll never love a job so much that you actually look forward to going every day.

Candace said...

The looks of horror are not pleasant when you tell acquaintances and new people that you are not married and are not interested in children.

BTW...I really liked your story.

Farmerspice said...

I'm with Alisa on this one. If you only knew the horrified looks I got when I was pregnant with Drexel and didn't have a ring on my finger. I'm happy with my decision to not be married and am pleased with my decisions since then with one major hiccup.

Life happens for a reason. You, my friend, are strong and independent and you know what you don't have to be married or have a man in your life to be fulfilled. I learned that one the hard way...with your help through it. For that...I thank you!

AnnD said...

I love that! I love the whole: "So, why am I not married? Cause I'm lucky!"

I love you and I love that you are going to be a vet (though the whole going far, far away to another state thing kind of has me buggin'), volunteer on your Saturday mornings, that your introspection are far superior to most other people, that you love your dogs, and love your friends even more.

What's wrong with you?


And I will kick anyone's ass who says otherwise.