A while back, after a speaking engagement, I was signing books when a woman somewhere in her 40s I suppose, came through the line. We exchanged courtesies then I handed her books back to her. But she didn’t walk away, despite the long line of folks waiting behind her. She looked at me expectantly then leaned a little closer.
"You’re not married, right?" I smiled and shook my head. An unmistakable look of kinship lighted up her face. "Well, well," she searched for the words. I glanced at her left hand. No ring. "So, you just don’t want to be married?" She was looking for encouragement, I suppose.
How do you answer that in six seconds? How do you explain your reasoning and lifestyle in one or two sentences? Now, I groped for the words. "Well, well, well, I, uh."
"Do you date?" she asked. I felt indignant. It did not settle well over my spirit.
"Yes, I date," I responded a bit briskly, perhaps. "I’m very fortunate because I’ve met a lot of terrific guys in my life." Then, I reached behind her and took a book from someone else so she got the message and moved on. I shook off my aggravation. I am not married by choice, and not by chance.
I am fortunate in that aspect. I have several single friends who never meet anyone to date. My life is different, though, in that I travel a great deal and my arena is big so I meet great people all the time. I also meet a lot of nuts, too, but that’s another column. I’ll just say this: I’ve come to the conclusion that there are more nuts in this world than there are sane people.
It’s funny how you won’t think about something until someone probes as she did then you begin to ponder and look for the answer. As a writer, I always want to be able to sum it up and answer it thoroughly. Why haven’t I been more interested in marrying? So, I stepped back, took a strong, appraising look at my dating life and I came up with the answer.
Quite simply, I love and cherish the lovely, sweet life I have. It’s uncomplicated and, to be honest, self-indulgent. I am only concerned with what concerns me. I don’t have to make plans, based on another’s thoughts or schedule.
I buy what I want, without asking permission or explaining. I eat crackers in bed, without a thought to the crumbs. I don’t vacuum or dust if I’d rather read a book. If I wake up at three in the morning and can’t sleep, I turn on the television and watch it.
When I get up every morning, my schedule, for the most part, is mine to determine. I never have to fight to find time for myself. All my time belongs solely to me. I suppose it’s fair to say that I’ve grown selfish when it comes to the life of me.
I think it’s sad that many single women, due largely to societal pressures, believe that singlehood is a curse.
"But it’s so much better to be happy and single than to be married and unhappy," I say to them often. "Until you find the perfect one who complements your life, you’re much better off by being alone."
And therein lies the real answer to the unmarried mystery of me. I want the perfect fit for me. I refuse to settle for anyone who is less than the best for me. I want the one who complements who I am and helps to make me a better person. This has happily worked for me and will until I find greater happiness with the one who fits my soul. Good Lord willing.
Meanwhile, not for one second do I think I’m cursed while I wait for such a moment to arrive. I think I’m enormously blessed.
Ronda Rich is the Gainesville-based author of several books, including "What Southern Women Know About Faith." Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column appears Tuesdays and on gainesvilletimes.com/ronda.