So the afternoon before my first marathon I should probably be thinking and writing about how I’m feeling. I should be writing about what it feels like to have my mood swing back and forth between confidence and terror every five minutes. Perhaps it would make sense to write about those friends I am so grateful for; people who have encouraged me every step of the past two and a half years, without ever judging or expecting anything other than friendship in return. Sitting in a church coffee shop on a sunny Saturday, all of these things would be perfectly logical and lovely to write about.
But instead I want to write about love. Not sure why, but I do.
Now I have no experience with romantic love. None. Nada. Zippo. But I’ve seen it in action and in absence in the relationships around me. One couple I especially admire has been married for a few years and offers the honest example of what a partnership looks like. It is obvious they love each other, they enjoy spending time together, and they complement each others strengths and weaknesses. And they are not glued to each other’s hip, recognizing that a few separate activities or sitting apart at a social event does not spell doom for their relationship. In contrast there is a marriage in my family where I often wonder why they are still together. The two individuals are more business associates than beloved. It seems like the only common ground is the house they live in, otherwise their schedules, interests, and social circles are totally distinct. When I look to this second marriage, I mentally declare that singleness is better than that.
Now singleness in your 30’s is far from a piece of cake. The church culture says something must be wrong that you’re not married, but that you should just focus on God and pray because that’s when Mr. Right shows up. And the Bible says that singleness is better because it allows more time for service and worship (just over Song of Solomon on Valentine’s Day because nothing good can come from that devotional time). And the rest of the world seems to be having lots of romantic fun if Match.com ads are any indication. There are kind, well-meaning voices everywhere telling you what to do, not do, think, not think, and how great being single is (don’t get me wrong; having complete control over my schedule and bank account is pretty nice).
The one voice you won’t hear when it comes to love is mine, specifically when I’m around a guy I like. I have memories back in high school where I would suddenly and completely clam up around the guy I liked. I actually had a crush on one classmate for years and never said a word about it, thinking that nothing I said would work out as well as in my imagination. Instead I attempted to develop ESP and watched while he dated other girls. College and beyond were not much better with just three blind dates to my name and having not gotten that rush of a guy actually asking me out (rather than friends of friends). I may argue in meetings, lecture in class, and meet with students all day long, but put my crush in the room and you might as well put duct tape over my mouth. And if I do actually let a few words escape my lips, well then I starting having a Homer Simpson “Doh!” soundtrack playing in my head for the next few minutes as I splice and dice every word I said and how he reacted.
My head fully knows that life is so much more than romantic love, and that even those marriages I admire have their real struggles. But as a single girl who is just a bit bored with her life, it sounds like a worthwhile challenge to try out.
Of course, if I can’t seem to speak to single members of the opposite sex, I might have to wait on a more dramatic option…
Ah well, in the meanwhile I have a class to prepare for, doctorate studies to consider, a marathon tomorrow, a messy apartment, a few letters to write, a conference in November.