There are wonderful benefits to the single life. And for many years I have enjoyed those benefits. Keeping my own schedule. Having the full duvet to wrap around me at night. Arguing with no one over the remote control. Occasionally allowing the hair on my legs to get a little fuzzier than it has any right to be.
Yep. Those benefits just keep comin’.
Sure, holidays can be a little difficult to maneuver. Friends in partnerships assume I need rescuing. They’re certain I couldn’t possibly prefer to stay at home. Alone. Surrounded by nothing but glorious peace and quiet. While balancing my teaching schedule with school is a manageable challenge, there is nothing I love more than to use a national holiday as an excuse to stay home with the blinds drawn, my pajamas on and the door closed. It’s my day to recharge my batteries (or make deadlines!). Besides, I have a threshold of how many social events involving husbands, wives and children I can handle per year.
Last spring I was invited to a dinner celebrating the impending opening of Samyama Yoga Center. Weary of being, yet agin, “Mimm Plus No One” I coerced my decidedly anti-social best friend to accompany me with the promise of a free meal.
It was a disaster.
Rather than spending a few hours having fun with my co-workers and their partners I spent ninety minutes worried my friend was miserable. Which he was. So we left early. And didn’t speak to one another for three days.
These little social hiccups that occur in the life of a singleton, however, are trivial. The major issue in being a single individual in a partnered world is this: too much Naval Gazing. A single woman like me, with too much time on her hands to think about it, becomes the Center of Her Own Universe.
Couples in a healthy, loving relationship—as far as I’ve observed—don’t have that problem. Factor in familial responsibilities like children, grandchildren, four-legged friends or aging parents and it’s impossible. There simply is no time to obsess about the Meaning of Life.
I, on the other hand, often wonder if I am capable of breaking free from the gravitational pull of my own reflection long enough to notice the light of the millions of shimmering stars around me?
You see, I’m far too entertained by my own company. All I need is a book or guitar, my laptop, some paper and scissors—throw in a stick of gum and a rubber band and I’m good to go. Somewhere along the road I’ve turned into a female McGyver.
And it has made me happy.
In fact, I have embraced my small and wonderful life: teaching yoga, writing and living in my miniscule but adorably furnished studio apartment until I keel over in Ardha Chandrasana.
Or have I?
Even my best friend—the anti-social one—admits to wanting more than the single life he’s been living. As we talked, I told him I was quite content settling into my Crone-hood. I was happy anticipating the Wise Old Woman phase of life, where I would dress myself in purple and hats—just like the poem—and dispense sage advice with wit, charm and the contented sigh of a life well-lived.
I was lying.
Because what happened was this: on the morning after the dreaded night out with my friend, after watching my co-workers and fellow yoga teachers happy and laughing and eager to introduce their life partners to one another I had an epiphany.
I woke up and realized I was no longer content being alone.
I did not see that coming.
Because this is what I figured. I figured Forrest Gump was wrong when he said life was a box of chocolates. I figured life was more like a pie, and, despite my optimistic nature, the realist in me was clear when she pointed out that one piece of the pie is always missing.
In other words, I can’t have it all.
Years earlier I accepted that profound love and connection was the little sliver of pie that would remain absent from my life.
No. Don’t pity me. I’m extremely happy and content. The love and connection I have with my yoga students more than makes up for the lack of romantic love.
Yeah. I’m okay with it.
Sure. I’m way too busy to think about love.
You’re kidding, right?
This is probably a good time to remind myself of a conversation I had in 1985. With a date. A first—and a last—date. About halfway through our meal Bruce said, “I think the reason why you keep yourself overbooked with work is so you can avoid meeting people.”
Twenty-eight years have passed since that night. Bruce is a grandfather. And I’m ready to prove him wrong.
Are you listening, Universe? It’s me, Mimm. I’m ready for that slice of pie. I’m ready for that image in my head that I can’t shake. It’s a rainy Sunday. I’m sitting on a big, plush couch with the person I love curled next to me. We’re barefoot, our feet tangled together, listening to the rain agains the window and reading. A book. The newspaper. It doesn’t matter. The coffee is fresh brewed in the cafetiere. From time to time he’ll read a passage from his book or I’ll comment on an article. But what is most lovely is the peace of our being together. The quiet. The space we’ve given one another to be who we are.
That’s the image a hold in my heart. That’s what I want.
For the better part of two decades Mimm has been a yoga teacher, massage therapist, reflexologist and writer. When she’s not balancing in Ardha Chandrasana or wrestling with a sentence, she’s either playing her guitar or doing homework. This year she begins work toward her master’s degree in transpersonal psychology at Sofia University.