Gigi is thinking about dating on a whole other level. “I don’t know if I told you, but I’m no longer dating. I’m not looking for it. I’m not asking for it. I don’t want it. I’m serious. I am no longer dating.”
“Marriage and children would have been great back in my twenties and thirties,” she explains. “But now love and children aren’t things I need to focus on. I don’t want to feel like I have to stop what I’m doing with my life now that I’m still alone in my forties. This is my life now and I’m going to live it as I see fit. I’m living a life other than marriage.”
–Melanie Notkin, Otherhood, p. 174
Suddenly, this year, I need reading glasses. There is probably no better symbol of middle-age. I’m tired.
It’s been a strange time to start over in a new place, but I realize I have to make it work here. I can’t easily quit and find another job in a few years. I either have to retire from here or, perhaps, in another five years move up to an even more demanding position elsewhere. I’m not sure I’d want to do that in my fifties, but it’s either up or out.
As I’ve written before, remaining single and working at a demanding job near the top of the ladder isn’t where I wanted to end up in life, but I’m also aware that my choices are swiftly dwindling. My last move brought that into stark relief. I’ve tried many things to change the pattern I’ve been in, and none of them have worked. I’ve now moved into acceptance.
The problem with the term “career woman” is that it’s anachronistic; it’s from a generation ago, when a woman who worked was an outlier, a rebel, a feminist. It’s really not relevant to today, when half of the modern workforce is made up of women: single, married, divorced, widowed, and everything in between. Having an income, whether it’s a one-earner or dual-earner household, is no longer a choice for most North American women. It’s a necessity. –Melanie Notkin, Otherhood, p. 184
This weekend I was unable to make it up to a festival I used to enjoy in my old stomping grounds, so instead I went to some events in this area. I did get up to my old neighborhood one day last week, and the three friends I was going to meet for lunch and coffee all had to cancel due to family and work obligations. I went to a couple of my favorite restaurants alone, and the food wasn’t quite as good as I remembered, especially after all that farm-cooking I did in my former city.
It’s time to accept where I am in life and make the best of things in this particular place. Bloom where I’m planted. I may or may not meet someone; that is up to chance as I’m not actively looking, and indeed have few options for actively looking. I’ve accepted that friendships too may be few and far between. But I’m okay. The truth is, I’m getting too tired to spend time feeling sad about what I don’t have. I need to conserve my energy for the things that I do have.
And I turn thirty six. Summer rounds into fall… rounds into winter… rounds into spring… rounds into summer, and there it goes.
A guy I might be interested in isn’t interested in me, or one who’s pursuing me isn’t moving me. There’s another party, another disappointment. On Sunday, I shop for new jeans or new shoes or a new dress for dates I don’t have. Dates with men I don’t meet.
…soon after that, I take a week off work and travel with other singles… I make new friends, and I feel like my life is fresh and new and has potential. And yet, the more things change, the more they stay the same.
And I wonder to myself how many plane trips I would have taken with my family. How many vacations we would have had together. And how, now that I’m forty-three and being honest with myself, I know I’ll never have that. I’ve passed that life; I’ve missed my flight.
But then, as summer once again rounds into fall… rounds into winter… rounds into spring… rounds into summer, and we reach the end of our fertility, certainly not the end of our womanhood, we grieve less as we embrace life as it is, no longer focusing on what it isn’t or what we aren’t.
–Melanie Notkin, Otherhood, pp. 222-229