When I was little, I recall rarely thinking about getting married when I grew up. I don’t even know if I thought about a wedding, or who I would marry, or any of that. I know I must have at some point, but it clearly did not rate a high priority in my “important” plans for the future. I vaguely remember thinking that I might be married to someone, that I might have children and lots of pets and I would probably be living in the country and working as a vet. There was never a prince charming, there was never a meringue dress and there was never a diamond featured in my dream. It was just accepted that all of that would come, as a normal, natural progression, so there was no need to dwell on the detail of it. What my dreams centered on was what I would do? How would I be living my life?
Later, as a teenager, my daydreams became a little more elaborate, but not in the way one would expect. I started to dream about what my life would be like as a young adult, before I settled down with the animal kingdom menagerie, the country home and the veterinary practice. This dream really was more focussed on me having my own place in the city, working and studying, and being fabulously enchanting and elegant, with social graces that would make Princess Mary look like the female equivalent of Tony Abbott, yet fashionable, witty and entertaining and leading a social life that could turn Carrie Bradshaw green with envy.
Yeah, ok so, it was a fantasy!
Last night I sat chatting with a work colleague over a drink during a four-hour flight delay. He was was describing his children to me, and he was quite literally gushing. Honestly, of all the friends I have that speak so lovingly of their children and family, I have to say, this man, this stranger, was more enamoured with his children than anyone I had ever seen. It was quite lovely.
And somewhat irritating.
And after he had flipped through every baby photo on his phone and every phone video of his children singing “Twinkle, twinkle little star”, and insisted on seeing equally as many photos of my dogs, he then proceeded to ask me why I didn’t have children, did I want children? Had I ever thought about having children?
With the flight delay and his probing and somewhat rude, questions wearing my patience thin, I simply bit the inside of my cheek, smiled and said “of course, I would love to have children- but first I need to find someone to have them with. There is a pretty well established sequence to these things, you know”.
He blushed and conceded that a partner (or at least a man of some description) was a rather critical requirement.
And then to my surprise he simply said “Well. Everything happens for a reason”. And with that, promptly changed the subject.
Perhaps he said this out of embarrassment and the desire to end the rather personal conversation that he had started. But somehow, though I have heard that line many times before, it seemed to have more of an impact on me last night.
I was suddenly reminded of my childhood daydreams, of how I had never actually thought about marriage and a husband per se, nor what he would look like, or what he would do for a living. He was just some shadow in the background not really active in the fantasy, if he was ever there at all. I thought about how I just accepted that one day marriage would happen at some stage, that it was an inevitable part of my life-to-come. BUT I was also reminded of the anticipation I felt, as I lazed on my boarding school bed on a Sunday afternoon, for one day living that life of a single, independent woman who answered to no one, who paid her own bills, who had a successful career and whose world was her oyster.
I contemplated “what happened to the dream of that woman?”, and then almost instantly I realized… “wait…I AM that woman!” (well, almost- minus the veterinary degree, SJP social life and elegance befitting royalty).
I realized that while I have lately been aligning my personal rationale with “everything happens for a reason” (although I have always reserved the right to occasionally freak out when things don’t happen) -and many things do, as we all know, occur purely by chance- it finally dawned on me that obvious as it may seem, things also happen by choice. And I chose this life, in fact I anticipated it, fantasized about it, and 18 years ago couldn’t wait to be living it!
So, though I secretly shed a few tears as I finally arrived home at half past midnight, for the loneliness I felt at arriving to an empty house in the middle of the night, the exhaustion of a 21 hour day and the emotional weight of having to answer to a number of people that evening: “no, I do not have anyone at home who can feed the dogs when my plane is unexpectedly delayed”, for the guilt I felt that my two beautiful, loyal companions had to wait an additional 5 hours for their evening meal, I also felt acceptance. Acceptance of the road not taken, and of the path I do travel, of the lifestyle that I now live by my own choice. Acceptance that one day I will meet someone, and we will build a life together and it will be lovely- but I won’t need to dwell on every minor detail of how and when and who and why, because when it happens it will feel easy and natural, like it was always meant to be just that way.