She’s good at her job. She’s looking better than she ever did. She’s comfortable with her body, easy in her own style. She’s fun. She’s single. This last seems to be the most important thing about her now, though it does not feature on her own list, except as an afterthought or a prompted response.
According to the explanations of her lifestyle that the media throws up, that’s why she buys all the clothes and books and CDs. She takes pleasure in these things and it annoys her that people define her by glib, simplistic classifications in magazines.
She’s surrounded by people who consider her incomplete, a temp in the corporation of life, because someone else didn’t choose to make her permanent. She lives with that, sometimes in defiance, sometimes in resignation, sometimes in amusement, but more and more, in secret despair. A girl who never considered marriage her life’s destination, now has to deal with the subject all the time, one way or another.
As the thirties flash past, she thinks about the great fairytale less and less. But she watches Kate Hudson get her man in movie after movie; reads books where girls named Sandy and Beth meet men of their dreams against all odds and live happily ever after with a brood of pretty children. And she wonders if she’s wrong.
Each year that passes makes it harder to avoid the schemes of friends and family to get her married to someone, anyone. Friends and family who took their time and made their own choices, but seem to believe she deserves less than that because she’s gathered a bit of dust.
She’s become very good at telling people that she’s fine. She’s even better at turning her life into funny stories. Laughter is a very clever barricade, almost impossible to detect or break through. She is aware somewhere inside that the it's too clever – it keeps her in as much as it keeps others out. That doesn’t matter because she’s also become very good at denial.
But she’s done it for too long, it gets harder and harder. She fears that sooner or later a moment of weakness will come, maybe after a bad day at work or an unusually silent weekend, and she’ll give in. And then she’ll be lost. She doesn’t know what she means by “lost”, and sometimes she feels it might be a relief, might work out, but in her head she knows without a doubt that it would be wrong. She would be moving from one person’s definition to another, always invisible to everyone but herself.
So she keeps a wary distance from the people who care for her because they’re the ones who make her feel inadequate now. Relative strangers accept her own definition of herself, so she can be single-attractive-fun, not single-tired-besieged. She’s not that fond of the parties, but admitting it is like admitting defeat. So she goes to a lot of them and is the life and soul.
More and more now, the ghosts of break-ups past visit her. They watch her with hopeful eyes, expecting to be released, but she can’t help them, any more than she can help herself. She’s a full-strength, red-alert crisis.
And tomorrow she might fall apart, but today, her hair’s looking good, the weather’s wonderful, the coffee tastes great and her shoes are new.
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