The Single Adventurer.

When you’re in your mid-thirties and single, people feel the need to constantly put you in your place and give you their unsolicited two cents. And some of that feels like folks lobbing dollar coins at your head. It’s exhausting.

Some people think single is lonely and uncool and that the single woman is wandering about longing for something she doesn’t have and envious of all the marriages and babies. What a sad and uninformed perspective.

You want to know what single really is?

Single is getting to make coffee at 4:00 am and wander about the house contemplating life without worrying about waking anyone else up.

Single is binge-watching Netflix and binge-reading John Grisham novels and binge-daydreaming about road trips for the summer.

Single is knowing I only have my own underwear to fold on Saturday.

Single is not having to ask anyone else what they want from the store.

Single is wandering the aisles of Target for three hours and mentally redecorating your house without purchasing a single thing.

Single is ordering the pizza toppings I like most, and not having to share my beer.

Single is shooting guns on Saturday without having to rush home to make dinner.

Single is curling up in front of the fireplace on rainy evenings and writing five blog posts in one sitting.

Single is hiking to the crag and watching the sunrise without being interrupted.

Single is holding all the babies and getting to be the novelty aunt. And it’s fun.

Single is taking off for a hike whenever and wherever I want.

Single is not having to come up with a reasonable explanation for why all the queso is gone.

Single is leaving church on Sunday and not having to worry about getting a table at the restaurant afterward because you’re going to go home and eat leftovers and curl up with a good book.

Single is going to midnight showings of Star Wars and not complaining about being tired because it was TOTALLY worth it.

Single comes with painful reminders, particularly when filling out wedding RSVPs. Or when asked to be the 3rd or 5th or 11th wheel at a gathering.

Single is sleeping alone and having only yourself for comfort when it storms.

Single is hard. Sometimes.

Single is lovely. Most times.

Single is so often trial by fire. Some people think you have not matured or experienced responsibility until you have birthed a baby and/or walked down an aisle. But the fire that refines one individual may not be the fire that refines another. I’m only thirty-four and I was thrust painfully into adulthood some twenty years ago. Some of us get burned by fire you cannot imagine. Nor do we wish it on you.

I’ve known great loss. And I’ve known great love. My heart breaks when I see parents who don’t parent and don’t love their children. My soul hurts deep within when I watch unfaithful spouses and people who manipulate the truth to suit their own needs and feed their own images, their loves ones be damned.

I don’t know if I’ll ever marry. I don’t know if I’ll ever bear children, and I don’t think I physically will be able to even if I were to marry. I want those things, I’ve always wanted them, but I’m not looking or hoping or searching. I’m choosing to let it happen organically in a timing of the Lord’s making. And I’m choosing to dwell in singleness and explore the adventure of it. It’s not a disease. It’s kind of awesome. And I much prefer it to what I’ve seen in relationships of late.

I’m happy. I’m whole. And I’m single. Imagine that.

 

Wild women.

As I reflect on my adventures lately and how the whole of it has been not at all what I hoped in some aspects, and yet beyond my wildest dreams in others, I have been hard-pressed to remember my bloodlines. To remember the women who came before me and are long gone. To honor the wild in each of them and measure how it was passed down to me.

My paternal great-grandmother, Sylvia. By the time I knew her, she was just a slip of a woman who spent most of her days in a chair with a homemade afghan over her legs. I was little when she died and I have only one photo of her, me dirty as always and hands full of some gooey pastry and her smiling indulgently over my dark unruly curls. Long after she died, I learned that she had lived through great loss: burying children in both infancy and young childhood, burying her husband, and burying two sons in adulthood, both from cancer and one of them my grandfather. I heard a story once that when a woman in town made fun of her many children (and them desperately poor), she chased after the woman with a sack of potatoes. She was tough. She had to be, raising so many boys and military men and burying her tribe one by one. My only memories of her, though, are her smiling her long, slow, peaceful smile.

My maternal great-aunts: Gladys, Lois, Nancy, and Chris. I had the privilege of keeping vigil with them the last week of my grandmother’s life. I have never laughed harder or cried more deeply wounded than I did that week. Shared grief will do that. I don’t know their stories well, but I know they all married young and were wild as horses and were sisters in blood and heart, each of them wearing their high Cherokee cheekbones proud. They laugh like my grandmother laughed, full-bodied and whole.

My paternal grandmother, Nora. In my often chaotic childhood, she was the one constant. We didn’t always get along, in fact almost never, but I realize in adulthood that we were both incredibly stubborn and stood our ground no matter what. She had built a reputation of standing her ground, that one. She hated guns. Hated them. I never knew why (and it was something on which we strongly disagreed) until just a few weeks ago when my father shared a story of her. My grandfather was a wild man from a family full of wild men. When he got in an argument with one of his brothers and said brother pulled a gun on him, my grandmother walked straight in between them, the gun barrel resting on her forehead, and demanded they stop. She hated alcohol, too, and my father, the last and unexpected of her four children, did not grow up with alcohol in the house. I knew that my grandfather had enjoyed a sip in his day, but I also knew my grandmother’s vehement opposition to drinking of any sort. My grandfather wrecked their only car one night driving drunk. She informed him in no uncertain terms that if he were to ever do such a thing again, she would leave and take the children. He never drank again. She could do that to a person, put someone in his place and make sure he knew the consequences of his choices. As harsh as she was, she was also the woman who taught me how to make bread and enjoy coffee and watch the sunrise and revel in the beauty of playing in the dirt. She was tough, but she was a classy lady. And she ended every conversation with “God loves you…and so do I.” I miss hearing her shaky alto calling me at unholy hours to sing me happy birthday. I miss the way she would fling her hands and mutter curse words if someone called during a ballgame when her beloved KC Royals were playing. I miss the way she could fill a room without saying a word.

My maternal grandmother, Ruth. She was a spitfire in a tiny package. I have never witnessed a woman work so hard and eat so hard and laugh so hard in my life. Whatever she did, she did it with everything she had. Life, love, and faith. There were no halves in her. She raised her cows like beloved dogs and I have many memories of laying my head on their warm, soft bellies while they basked in the sun. I was never afraid of her gentle giants and I had no reason to be. She loved them and they knew it. It was the same for people: she loved or hated you and you knew it. She didn’t bother with masks or pretenses and I loved her honesty, even when it was brutal. I worked as a farmhand for her one summer in college; it was the most difficult and blessed summer of my life. I learned so much and walked away with cherished memories of a five-foot-tall firecracker.

These are the women in my blood. I see bits of them in myself and I am thankful for that from which I come. Wild women. May we be them, know them, and raise them.