I love living in our small town. I think it's apparent to anyone who reads this blog that I do. I also love having kids in my life (especially A, B, and C, Kathy's kids). I love living with Kathy. I love doing things around the house, I love cooking, I love books. I do not love crowded bars, nightclubs, or general admission concerts. I don't like the city, and I don't like hipsters (sorry, but I don't, being around them makes me all nervous and self-conscious. It's why I won't go to Williamsburg). I like turtlenecks. I don't like loud music, other than in the car. I know myself pretty well. Why, then, do I have a hard time surrendering to who I really am?
When I was younger, I used to chirp to my parents all the time about how I wanted to live in a city. I said it so much that I started to believe it. Specifically, I wanted to live in San Francisco. My sister said the same thing (only failed to name her city. Sister, you lose points for specificity). I talked about how wasteful it was to commute by car, when mass transit would be available if only you lived in the city. I talked about how selfish it was for people to want their own little plot of land (to do what in, I asked my parents). I mean really, you can walk one block and throw the ball in the park, right? And community gardens, people!
I also used to say that it's really important to be single, so you can find yourself and really know yourself before committing to a long-term relationship. I glorified the idea of single-dom. All those friends I would have, all the late nights at bars talking about interesting things (and, no doubt, complaining about the losers in the dating world). All the lovers, with no strings attached. The freedom of it all.
This is the thing, though. I was never really single for long. I found someone, I liked them, I dated them. And only them. For a while. I did not like one night stands, even theoretically. I do not like staying up late. I also never really liked living in the city. When I lived in California, and was given the choice, I picked the East Bay over San Francisco. Actually, I picked an apartment in a converted house (carriage house, actually), where I could have my own garden and my own little plot of land to study outside when I felt like it. I actually chose a smaller, more expensive apartment for the opportunity to grow lilies and tomatoes, and sit in the sunshine drinking iced tea when the jasmine bloomed.
And yet, when I first moved to New York City, I chose to live in a gut-renovated apartment in Brooklyn with no outside space (not even a fire escape). Then I moved to Manhattan, where I couldn't even afford a balcony (although I did graduate to having a fire escape, but the window didn't work well and I was on the 5th floor and kind of afraid to go out there). When I finally moved to Westchester, it was a breath of fresh air. Literally. I love commuting by car, it gives me and Kathy time to connect or unwind together before we have to face the office or the kids. And we always get a seat! At least we carpool, I suppose, and drive a small, manual transmission car instead of an SUV.
But even knowing all of this, it makes me sad that I am not like any other 29 year old I know in New York City (even Kathy at 29 was one of those fun-loving, late-partying people). And I don't even know any other 29 year olds living in my small town. All my friends from the neighborhood are over 40. I will never be one of those young, free, single things, going to concerts and staying out late. I will never be half of one of those young hip couples who host dinner parties full of fancy food for all their young, hip friends. I don't even want to be! But for some reason, I can't let go of the idea that I should want to be. I don't know why, but who I really am doesn't jive with the idea of who I thought I wanted to be. I am not, actually, a free spirit. I am pretty traditional. I'm an introvert, and I like having only a few friends.
I was also wrong about thinking it was so important to be single. Being with Kathy has enabled me to let go of a lot of the things I actually don't like doing, but did anyway, just because everyone I knew was doing them (ahem, general admission concerts and parties in Williamsburg). I love living in Westchester way more than she does, and I love being a homeowner. So although it might look a little like I have taken on a lot in being with her and moving in with her and the kids, it's actually been really liberating. It's given me a chance to find out that this is who I have been all along. I've "found myself" by being in a relationship, in a way I couldn't (or didn't?) before. In some ways, my life feels more me than it ever has.
It is hard, though, feeling different from other women my age -- or at least how I perceive other women my age. It's kind of lonely. I don't know how to move from just knowing myself as I am to actually accepting myself as I am.