You, dear readers, likely know that my mother is many things to me: dear confidante, good-humored muse, occasional critic. You may not know she’s also my drug dealer.
“Just a couple!” I am known to beseech her, a couple of times a month. ”I’m trying to wean myself off!” ”I’m breaking them into teeny tiny pieces!”
Like most of the females in my family (unlike the males, all of whom could sleep standing up on the Cyclone, if pressed), I struggle with cyclic bouts of insomnia; with these, and without health insurance, I must depend on her dispensations. Like any junkie, sometimes I push it.
“I’ll give you a few,” my mother emailed me recently after I sent her a request. “But you need to work on better sleep habits, i.e. earlier bed time, right?” She had clearly taken note of the time stamp on my message: somewhere between one and three am, on a Tuesday.
“I’m balancing four jobs, a book, a blog and trying to find a husband,” I wrote back the next morning. “And sometimes my dog wakes me up vomiting at 4 am. Easier said than done ”
In classic, melodrama-resistant fashion, she ignored my cheekiness–replying, instead: “Can’t you get them from your therapist?”
Per usual, my mother was wise not to take me seriously. Because, though I sometimes fail to realize it, I’m not–actually–serious.
Well, I was about the book and the blog and the work. And the vomiting. But not, exactly, a husband.
“I just think she’s really ready,” A said. We were walking down Second Avenue following the most perplexingly vicious exercise class in the history of exercise, complaining about leg lifts and men. She was talking about a mutual girlfriend.
“I mean, I think she’s just done dating and wants a family. Like, now.”
“Right,” I agreed. “But aren’t we ready, too?”
“No,” she replied “Absolutely not.”
“No,” she said again, in that breathless tone she uses to indicate nothing has been more obvious since concealer.
“We are still working on our own stuff. We are in no way ready to have families.”
“Oh,” I said. “Right.”
About three blocks and a few reflections later (Would someone who’s “ready” spend two months dating a 24-year old? Or a week with someone who actually speaks the words, “I never know where I’m going to be”? Don’t answer that.), I was convinced.
Turns out, I’m, not, actually, in desperate search of someone with whom to procreate by Tuesday. I’d like a relationship, because I like them: it’s nice to have someone who supports and cuddles you and comes along when you would like to whimsically ice skate or drink whiskey/rye cocktails.
And yeah, maybe someone I might wind up in a relationship with some time soon will be the person who I wind up with for a long time. Lord knows I would not protest were I to never again suffer through an internet first date.
But my priorities are still selfish–I’d like that to change, but not, necessarily, quite yet.
Which means that, jokes aside, I don’t actually feel that urgent, panicked need–the one our mutual friend, we think, feels–to be settled down yesterday.
A few afternoons later I had coffee with a close friend of my mother’s, a woman who I’ve known my whole life and who knows me as well as anyone does. I explained to her how I’m trying to adopt better dating skills-you know, moving slowly, dating more than one person at a time, all the things I know I will never, ever do but like to pretend so people roll their eyes at me less.
“You just need to be focused on something besides finding a husband,” she said. I lit up. “But I am!” I said, brightly. “I’m writing a book! That’s my focus! I’d like a relationship, but I’m not trying to find a family right away.”
“But you said–”I didn’t even let her finish–though I didn’t, actually, know which flip reference to seeking a partner she was referring to. (That is how frequently, thoughtlessly, I make them.)
“I know, I know,” I replied. “I say those things. I’m not serious. I don’t really feel like I need to settle down that soon.”
“Oh,” she said. “I didn’t realize.”
“I know,” I assured her. “Neither did I.”