In L.A. I used to get my hair cut by a Korean immigrant who was constantly battling with the Russian immigrants who rented space in her shop for their manicure business.
Now I get my haircut by a down-home woman who took over her father’s salon and is living on the same large parcel of land she grew up on. She married and had her kids very young, and although they are adults now they all live on the land or nearby. Her siblings share the land with her; she is surrounded by her nieces and nephews and a couple of grandkids.
This new hairstylist is around my age but our lives couldn’t be more different. She is not the first woman I’ve met here who has told me that she could never have moved to L.A. on her own.
In my twenties, I probably would have looked down on her life; in my thirties I may well have envied it. I’m finally at the stage where I can ruminate on the vast differences in our lives without feeling that one is necessarily better than the other. They are just different, and both have their costs and benefits.
I will say that I no longer believe I can bear any stress unaided. In my late thirties, my body stopped cooperating with that belief. My independence has its limits.
On the other hand, ever since the dam broke in the fall of 2011, I’ve slowly built up a wall of immunity to marriage and motherhood mania. It’s simply become another belief system that I no longer fully buy into. Prejudicial attitudes can no longer penetrate the thick skin I’ve developed after nearly two years of reflection and reason.
My attention has been diverted to the quest to find new solutions to old problems. Is having a roommate a solution or just another problem? Will this slower-paced city be better for my health? Will I get bored here? How long can I pursue self-development before I have to get a job? Is self-development more important than place? Is community more important than stimulation? How much financial security am I willing to sacrifice in pursuit of better mental and physical health?
These are some of the issues that are consuming me now; motherhood no longer is. Maybe I will go through another mourning period when my friends start having grandkids, but I feel innoculated.