Tuesday, February 14, 2006

"I am, perhaps, what you might call deeply single. Almost never ever in a relationship. Until recently, I wondered whether there might be something weird about me."

I didn't write any of that, but I could have. I only read it recently, although it's been around for a few years now. It was written by a woman named Sasha, in an essay in which she described her sudden insight into a hitherto-unidentified romantic type: she named it "quirkyalone."

I'm not 100% crazy about the term, and I'm not completely comfortable with applying any kind of label to myself. But I can say this much: when I read that word, I really didn't have to read any further. I knew exactly what she was talking about. And I was quietly thrilled that I'd found a word for what I am.

"Es mejor estar solo que mal acompañado." ("Better unattached than unsuitably matched.")  ~ Mexican proverb

I haven't always been alone -- I've had a few serious relationships (some quite long, some relatively short) and my share of flirtations and near-misses. I'm sure I'll have a few more before I'm done. I don't lack opportunities; I know how to get it if I want it. It's just that I'd rather be on my own and happy than stuck in a mediocre relationship because it's what I'm supposed to want.

And I am happy. I don't need to be "saved," I'm fine the way I am. I don't need anyone to "complete" me; I don't feel incomplete. Sometimes I get lonely, but no more often than I ever did when I was in a relationship (and actually a lot less often taken on the whole.) I enjoy solitude. I enjoy being able to do whatever I feel like doing at any given moment. I enjoy sleeping diagonally across my bed with my arms flung out. And I enjoy knowing that the potential is still there.

"Better to be untethered and open to possibility."

And let's be brutally honest: a woman who's got a gay best friend, forty bucks, and a Blowfish catalog has all the benefits of a romantic partner and none of the hassle. That's not to detract from the importance of close relationships; rather, it liberates them. When you empty your head of preconceptions, suddenly you're free to define your relationships according to what you want them to be. When you stop thinking of love and trust and intimacy as things that only properly exist between the members of a couple, you find that there's room for a lot more love and trust and intimacy in your life. Family, home, relationships built on years of trust and history -- I can have all of these things whether I'm alone or not. So why do we spend our lives worrying about being passed over?

"I have learned that to be with those I like is enough".   ~ Walt Whitman

My friends are the most important people in the world to me -- I love my friends, I adore them, I would do anything in the world to contribute to their happiness. To be honest, I can be a lot more ardent about my friends than I sometimes am about my romantic relationships. According to a mindset that only recognizes couples and not-couples, that kind of affection makes no sense; it's the mindset that produces phrases like "just friends." I can't even comprehend "just" friends -- you can't get any closer to me than friendship. Who needs a boyfriend when you've got half a dozen real friends? Now, if one comes along, that's great; I'm not against the idea. But if he doesn't, my sense of self-worth remains intact. I am whole the way I am.

"Quirkyalone is not an illness. But first hearing about it is akin to getting a diagnosis. Often when you find there is an explanation for how you feel (or at least a word that encapsulates it and confirms that others grapple with the same thing), the fears diminish and the pain goes away."

And that's exactly right. It's not the state of being or the characteristic itself that causes the rawness, it's the nagging self-doubt that tells you it means there's something wrong with you. It's an elusive distinction until somebody manages to articulate it. But upon hearing it named, I understood instantly that it very much applied to me, and suddenly I felt elated: I'm just fine. I'm perfect. I'm exactly the way I should be.

That's a pretty revolutionary concept when you think about it.

So even though, as a woman alone on February 14th, I'm supposed to be bitterly dismissive, I'm not. I'm really, genuinely happy. I don't want roses; I might buy myself daisies. I don't want a diamond; what a waste of money those things are. I'm not looking for anyone to buy me a house; I can buy my own house. I'm not afraid of being alone; I'm not alone. There are so many people around me whom I love, not the least of which is myself.

So, while I'm still not convinced about the word, I love the idea: happy International Quirkyalone Day.
2:14 AM ::
Amy :: permalink