never married, over forty, a little bitter

minimum requirements

As I begin my nationwide search for a job, I have been pondering where I would be willing to live. I have come to the conclusion that, in my mid-forties, my requirements are few. I need access to outdoor recreation, a good grocery store and ideally a farmer’s market, and, if not a dance studio, at least a yoga studio.

That’s pretty much it. I am basing that on how I spend my time here– cooking, dancing, going to yoga, swimming in natural swimming holes and biking and hiking and playing tennis. And reading, which I can do anywhere.

I see one married friend and two older divorced friends on any kind of regular basis here. I could have those same friends in a suburb or a small town. L.A. was full of singles, but it didn’t really get me anywhere, and other than going to shows, I spent most of my time doing the above. I rarely took advantage of the good restaurants there because I had few friends to go to them with; if I did utilize them, it was to order in.

I have, of necessity, become almost entirely self-contained.

the egocentric

Not having children isn’t an illness in the usual sense, and it certainly isn’t a life-threatening condition, but fertility experts send women a hugely reactionary message. They encourage them to think they’re failures if they don’t have babies, implicitly dismissing any individual or couple who chooses to remain childless.

There’s a very basic mistake here. For centuries, the fact that most women who had sex got pregnant perpetuated the myth of a universal maternal instinct. I don’t have it and I know plenty of other women who don’t. Quite a few men, I suspect, would be happy not to have children, but couples come under huge pressure from family and friends to start procreating. What few people – especially fertility doctors, most of whom are male and have massive egos – seem to realise is that there’s no evidence for the assumption that having children makes people happy.

the perplexed

This passage from John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath reminds me of conversations I have had on the farm:

One man, one family driven from the land; this rusty car
creaking along the highway to the west. I lost my land, a
single tractor took my land. I am alone and bewildered.
And in the night one family camps in a ditch and another
family pulls in and the tents come out. The two men squat
on their hams and the women and children listen. Here is the
node, you who hate change and fear revolution. Keep these
two squatting men apart; make them hate, fear, suspect each
other. Here is the anlarge of the thing you fear. This is the
zygote. For here “I lost my land” is changed; a cell is split
and from its splitting grows the thing you hate–“We lost our
land.” The danger is here, for two men are not as lonely and
perplexed as one. And from this first “we” there grows a still
more dangerous thing: “I have a little food” plus “I have
none.” If from this problem the sum is “We have a little
food,” the thing is on its way, the movement has direction.
Only a little multiplication now, and this land, this tractor are