Saturday I went on yet another disappointing date. It was actually a second date, but all the chemistry I’d felt on the first one fizzled like a sad balloon within 15 minutes of his arrival. I was bummed. If bad first dates are bad, bad second dates are somehow worse. I’ve learned to have no expectations for a first date, but by definition there’s always a bit of expectation for the second. And I have exactly no ability to have a poker face, so I know he knew. There will be no third.
I was feeling restless. I’ve been feeling restless a lot lately. In a conversation I had recently, a friend told me it was the spring. Somehow angst feels worse in the spring, when everything around you is growing and blooming and changing, and you’re still somehow stuck. We expect winter to be frustrating and entrapping. But Spring is new life, new opportunities. Same you. Everywhere you go, there you are.
I reached for the thing I always used to do when I was younger, a long drive with the music turned up loud. I had some free Car2Go minutes to burn up by the end of the month, so I rented a car, turned on the radio, and this is what I hear: “All the women who independent, throw your hands up at me.” Well played, Universe. Well played.
Perhaps because was a song created as part of the marketing for the remake of Charlie’s Angels, Destiny’s Child’s power ballad to the independent woman is catchy, but incredibly cheesy, with the exception of one line: “Ladies it ain’t easy being independent.”
Some days I don’t really want a boyfriend, I want a housewife. Someone to take care of the home, the operations, the grocery shopping, to manage my life. Someone to pick up just a little bit of the slack of doing absolutely fucking everything, from near weekly vet visits to dinner every night to laundry to running any errands. Thank God for Amazon Prime. Amazon Prime and I have a deeply satisfying relationship.
This song is the definition of “girl power” which is a phrase that, on it’s surface, seems impossible to argue with: I buy all my own stuff with my own money so no man can tell me what to do! Yay! This has been the recurring and general theme of being a girl since my childhood, and it’s certainly preferable to disempowering our young women. But it’s a bit hollow. Or it feels that way now. Why is there a binary of not needing anyone at all, or needing specifically a man to provide for you? What’s the middle ground? Can we choose it? People often say to me that I’ve chosen my career. Well, sure, but not to the denial of other options or opportunities. I didn’t choose work life, work life chose me. And by chose me, I mean, I have rent and other expenses that I must pay for. So I work. I have a career. It is fulfilling. It is not everything I am.
I’ve written about this before, but we have to stop telling women they can have it all in a way that makes it seem like to not have it all is a failure, and “all” is defined very clearly as: successful career + successful relationship + plus kids. No one tells the little girl who wants to go to law school or med school or be a high-powered entrepreneur that there are going to be a lot of lonely nights and a lot of people (men and women) who are intimidated by your power, and will try to diminish you. There are going to be relationships that end because you’re doing all the work, or because they don’t feel like you “need” them. There are going to be days when you’re looking down the long hallway of your future and trying to figure out if you will be enough for yourself, all those years.
Maybe we should. Maybe we should be honest about this. That having a big, full powerful life might mean you’re alone in it, in the relationship sense. It might mean that you have to wait a while to find an equal partner, or as another friend puts it, someone equally yoked, pulling in the same direction.
But we can also tell them that in these instances, you’re not really alone. The lack of one partner means that you build a family out of your friends, and you all work together towards each others common goals, picking up slack as you go. Yesterday for Easter I was surrounded by my crew, and it was a pleasant realization that it was no longer just holidays that brought us together. Yesterday could have easily been any Sunday, long brunches, lazy afternoons on a back patio drinking beer and catching up. I am beyond lucky in this regard. It’s what makes me [slightly?] less desperate in my search. Over the course of my illness, over the course of others parents health issues, job changes, family drama, miscarriages and others ordinary and extraordinary events, we have seen each other through, and born each others pain. We have brought food and alcohol and watched stupid movies and admitted our darkest fears. We have been present. We have been together, independently.