In a few days, my best friend Dora will turn 40. I think of our kitchen chit-chats – priceless therapy sessions, really, during which we talk about everything under the sun. Then I email her: “Do you remember last year in my kitchen in London?” She answers: “And nothing has changed. We’re still single.”
Of course a lot of things have changed. But I know what she means. We were both single one year ago, after our respective break ups. And we’re still single.
The difference this time is that we’re turning 40. No more thirtysomething. In our minds, when we’re emotionally down, that means: No more promises. No more romance. No more feeling butterflies.
Sounds silly? Maybe. It sounds silly to me when I’m feeling happy and optimistic. But when I’m sad or experiencing PMS, I can’t help but dwell on the fact that I’m still single. Moreover, I tell Dora that my situation is far worse than hers. She is divorced and the mother of a lovely boy. I have never married. I have no children and I’m dying to have them.
Too old for love?
Soon after we met, my last boyfriend told me he was crazy for me, “although you’re almost 38.” I replied: “Hey, you are 36, you’re not a child either!” But now I know what he meant. He was considering raising a family and of course he gauged my age. Until then, it never occurred to me I could be too old for a man. I never thought in terms of “last chance” or “se te va a pasar el arroz.”
But now I do. Blame the hormones. The biological clock. Yes, it’s ticking. On the other hand, I’m happy with myself, I love my job and don’t need anyone around to make me happy or fill my time. I will not settle for the company alone or to satisfy social conventions. But I don’t want my life to remain like this forever.
Like so many women of my generation, I used to think that children were a nuisance that prevented you from doing as you please. But my three nieces have taught me a lot. When I’m with them I become the adult, and I stop being the hurt child and I quit worrying about my problems. They have showed me the joy of giving my love, my time, my knowledge. And now, I am prepared to accept that responsibility full time with my own kids.
Some friends have suggested I become a single mother, but I don’t consider that option. I’ve done too much alone. I want my own family, with a partner. I’m as traditional as I never thought I would be.
But what to do when you’re almost 40 and still single?
I trust, I believe there’s someone perfect for me somewhere and he will show up at the right time. I know it couldn’t happen before because I wasn’t ready. And I must be doing something right, because I’m not opening my door to bad boys anymore.
But sometimes all this stuff sounds like self-help dribble to me. When I lose faith, I get angry and cry in the privacy of my room. Tears of loneliness, frustration, sadness, even envy, to see that a friend of mine has achieved what I haven’t. Shameful tears I can’t shed in public. Because I don’t want anyone to see my dark side or feel sorry for me because I’m still single.
What to do when I feel self-pity?
I call Dora, come over and we chit-chat in her kitchen, indulging in a bottle of lambrusco. Our last talk was a week ago. I told her I had met someone and I liked him. I had placed an ad in the paper, for a conversation partner, because I miss speaking English since I left London. Someone answered. He happened to be gorgeous. We had lunch and got along very well.
Then, he never called me again. I thought about calling him and asking him out, but I decided against it.
So yeah, something has changed. I no longer swim upstream. When things don’t work out with a man, I just let it go. If someone is a fit for you, things will naturally happen, right?
And finally, Dora and I toast to our shared goal: no matter how long we’re still single, we just won’t grow bitter. If we give up, we are closing the door to our own dreams. And I still believe in love, even when sometimes I can’t find a reason to believe.