Update 11/1/12: Just wanted to note that I now disown the first half of this post—basically everything before it gets introspective. I still don’t want an engagement ring or a name change or to procreate, but other people can do whatever they want and more power to them.
Tonight I found myself combing through Facebook, examining the pages of “friends” who are married and/or pregnant or parents. (“Friends” is in scare quotes because Facebook has hijacked the term.) I’ve been to a total of nine weddings/receptions in the past year and a half. Of the six different roommates I had in college, four are now married and one is pregnant. This is not what I had in mind for my social circle at 25. When people first started getting engaged, it was surprising (to me) and kind of cute (I suppose). Now I feel like if one more person tells me they’re getting married, I’m going to have to struggle not to punch something. I have this strange and extreme resentment toward the whole production. I abhor the whole proposal thing, where the man is supposed to get down on one knee and pull out a shiny ring and pop the question and the girl acts all surprised and gleeful. If the idea of marriage is really such a surprise, that’s kind of a problem. I find it antiquated and obnoxious. I would never want an engagement ring (Why does the woman wear one and not the man? To show that she is officially someone’s property? Lovely.), and I would never want marriage proposed to me in such a manner. If my significant other wants to discuss marriage, we can sit down and discuss it like civilized adults instead of acting out someone’s fairytale idea of a decision-making process. And then, the wedding. Oh dear lord spare me the horrors of bridal showers [read: shameless ploys for presents, or, sexist rituals designed to prepare the woman materially for her new role as cook and housekeeper so that she can care for her man (shudder)], bachelorette parties (limos, party buses, going to clubs and getting drunk? Motion-Sick Girl says no thanks), spending an absurd amount of money on a dress to wear once… all of that. And what REALLY gets me right now is the amount of women who still take their husband’s last name. I thought we were out of the dark ages. I hate, hate, HATE it when the introduce the couple as “Mr. and Mrs. David Smith” (for example). The groom gets his whole name and all the bride gets is “Mrs.” Your identity is now reduced to your relationship to your husband. Congratulations. For fuck’s sake, why do people still do this? The whole marriage thing just reeks of the idea of ownership, of becoming someone’s property, of belonging to your man—and that’s what makes my skin crawl.
And then, babies. Babies on Facebook. From the first “OMG I’m pregnant!” to the ultrasound pictures to the photos of the “baby bump” at various stages of gestation to the final birth, EVERYTHING is documented on Facebook, and the comments fill up with people crooning about how WONDERFUL it all is and how GREAT a mommy you are and how BEAUTIFUL you look (even when you really don’t). Okay, first of all, ultrasound = uterus = internal organ. I’m not your doctor and I don’t want to see it. Want me to put up pictures of the x-rays from breaking my arm? How ’bout my spleen? Wanna see my spleen? And then tell me how cute it is? I didn’t think so. Keep your insides inside, please. Also, baby bumps give me the willies. You have something growing. Inside you. You might think it’s a beautiful miracle, but some tend to see it as a little creepy. What’s creepier to me is the pride that some husbands seem to take in their wives’ baby bumps. To me it has this sense of “Look what I put inside you!” Creep city. And of course once the baby’s born we have to hear about every detail of the baby’s room and every single thing the baby does, and we are treated to an absolute barrage of pictures of the baby on Facebook. Sometimes I almost want to delete my Facebook account due to the inundation of baby.
The question I have to ask myself, now that I’ve probably offended a large portion of my friends (if they ever read this, which they probably won’t), is “Why the fuck am I so freaking angry about something that has nothing at all to do with me?” Why should other people’s life decisions piss me off? If I don’t want those things, then I just won’t do them myself, but other people should be free to live that way if it makes them happy. All true. And, I mean, I don’t want those things, do I? Largely I do not. Being/falling in love, yes, that is nice. Finding someone you love so much and are compatible with enough that you want to spend the rest of your life with them? That would be pretty cool. And yes, I am probably to some extent jealous of the people who have found that, even if I don’t want to express it in the same way. And although I legitimately do find the whole procreation process somewhat disturbing, I think I would like to raise children of my own someday, even if they’re adopted. (I could also change my mind and make peace with the pregnancy thing, if whatever hormone triggers that bit of insanity ever kicks in.)
I think a lot of what actually upsets me lies in feeling somehow left behind. I want to spend my twenties single and fancy-free, doing crazy things and generally living it up, but my efforts at living the way I want to are severely thwarted when half of my friends have chosen to “settle down” and have therefore mostly disappeared from my social circle, and the single half has left Buffalo for other pursuits (mostly grad school, but also jobs, which admittedly can be hard to come by here). I like living in Buffalo. I want to live in Buffalo and have a group of friends who like to do fun things with me. (Examples of “fun things” include exploring abandoned buildings, going to concerts, taking random road trips, and skinny dipping.) I live in Buffalo but my friends are generally a) unavailable due to marriage/jobs/relationships; b) absconded to places that are not Buffalo; or c) not interested in my idea of “fun things.” I suppose I should blame the deserters as much as the marrieds, and to some extent I do, but in most cases they left for pretty legitimate reasons. I can’t think of a whole lot of legitimate reasons to get married aside from health insurance and taxes. (Oh, right, and looooove. Wait, never mind.)
Another problem I have with the whole marriage/parenthood thing is that I do not feel like we are really that old. I know that everyone does things at their own rate and they we’re not all on the same timetable, but sometimes I compare myself to other people my age and wonder what is wrong with me. Shouldn’t I, in fact, want these things as well? Why don’t I? What if I wake up one day and I’m 37 and I suddenly decide I want to get married and have kids and I have to go out and chase down a man and I end up with someone who’s lived with his mother his whole life and can’t hold down a job and plays the lottery, only to find out my biological clock has ticked its last and I totally missed my chance to have the whole pregnancy experience, but I’m still stuck with the loser for the rest of my life? I don’t really want to consider this scenario, but every time another friend “settles down” I find myself thinking about it.
And my third issue is probably actually jealousy. It would be nice to find a person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. I sort of feel like the likelihood of it ever happening decreases every day as more people get married and the dating pool gets ever shallower. Being in a lifelong committed relationship at thirty sounds acceptable, but I don’t want to have to choose between being a cougar and being someone’s second wife to make that happen. I guess it just seems like it might be nice to have the security of knowing that you already found that person, that you don’t have to keep searching and they they’ll always be there for you. You could also join the club of married people and go to married people social functions, and if all your friends moved away you might not feel so bad because you could always spend more quality time with your spouse. On the flip side, though, beginnings are always fun, and I can still enjoy the thrill of the possibility of new relationships because I am not yet settled for life.
I suppose I should write some sort of conclusion to this. I didn’t edit it half as much as what I usually post on here, so please don’t sue me. And the things I said that sounded mean, I probably don’t really REALLY mean deep down, but I feel them anyway sometimes due to the reasons listed toward the end. (Yes, I am kind of a fucked-up person.) This is me venting things that have been bugging me for a while now and then trying to analyze why they’re floating around in my head at all. In the end, I guess, what this means is that I need to work harder at getting my own life to be where and what I want it to be, which will decrease the temptation to compare myself to other people and get all pissy and bitter over their life decisions.