Friday, January 11, 2013

Is It Possible...

Is it possible to be an old spinster and not continually weep about it? While my life has gotten happier with each decade, I find I am approaching a particular wall that has broken more hearts than we will ever know. I am 44 now, and my window for childbearing is about to snap shut, never to open again. Don't get me wrong - I don't pine to have my own child; there are aspects to motherhood I would love to have, but I think I treasure little things like sleep and free time much, much more.

How do you live a life on the other side of this wall without becoming one of THOSE women? The ones that live alone or with a roommate and work in the nursery at church or on the hospitality committee and stand out as the Familiar Old Single at parties and gatherings, and presumably live lives of quiet desperation? They don't go around weeping, but they must cry, right? At the death of family, with only the fervent hope that their nieces and nephews (if they are fortunate enough to have them) or their savings will be enough to carry them safely through to the end of their lives...

Because the friends won't be there for it. They change too much. I'm in my 4th or 5th generation of friendships, because people change or people move away. If I lived in a town where people stayed for generations, that would be a comfort, but we don't live in that world anymore. And so when I'm in my 60s and later, I'll probably have an entirely new set of friends, and I don't care who says that your friends become your family, they don't, not really. Because there's always a new job or a new boyfriend or spouse to take them somewhere else, and a new set of circumstances to make them less compatible or even friendly. We are all in that inevitable circuit.

So when I win the lottery (if I would only remember to buy a ticket occasionally!) I'm starting a commune. I've dreamed of this since college, but it has changed shape a few times along the way (originally it was an apartment building). It can be like a little town of sorts, on 10+ acres, with 3-6 houses (depending on how many want to join), but a blend of the young and old, single and married, fertile and childless. There would be a massive garden, and acreage for livestock if we wanted. People who knew basic car maintenance, and people who knew how to sew on buttons and hem pants. Babysitters for the young families, and someone to give you a ride when you needed to go to the hospital. A car to borrow when yours is in the shop. Dinners with a family for the singles, especially on holidays. People to help fill in the gaps.

If people wanted to move on, then the commune would buy back their house, and wait to fill it with someone who could help balance out the community. Maybe do a rent-to-own arrangement, where people could be vetted for a year before being allowed to buy! Everyone owns their own property; but lives there with the understanding that we all need something from each other, and we try and take care of one another. Perhaps there would be a clubhouse of sorts, where everyone could come for movie nights and dinners. Freedom with support. Needs being met, and people being needed.

But apart from that utopia, is it possible to make your single self into someone who isn't an invitation for pity? To become someone enviable and delightful and welcomed wherever you go? And how on earth do you make that transition from someone on the verge of a empty future to someone wonderful? Preferably with a minimum of fuss or effort.