“Are those water bugs? Where did they come from?” My friend asks as we watch the one-inch black bugs scurry across her back patio.
They appear to have no direction and disappear beneath the ivy next to the glass frog statue. The air is cool but humid, and we both sip on our glasses of Sauvignon Blanc and contemplate our relationship statuses.
We are both in our late twenties and single, having just ended long-term relationships. Everyone around us seems to be getting married or having kids. And even though we know that’s not what we want, we can’t help but feel like we’re missing out on something.
“I just don’t know if I want to try again, you know? I’m just tired,” my friend says, shrugging her shoulders. I agree and place my wine glass in front of me. My friend’s dog whines at us from behind the adjacent gate.
“I broke up with my boyfriend last fall, and I felt like I needed to move on quickly to prove to myself that I could, but then when I hooked up with someone a few months later, I knew I wasn’t ready. I didn’t go on another date until February, and only now am I actually starting to date again,” I say.
But with my revelation, I admit to my friend that after ending my last relationship less than a year ago, I still am not ready to put myself back out there. I’m not ready to really try again. Because I’m not even sure I want something long-lasting. And the idea of marriage, quite honestly, frightens me.
Like I admit to my friend, the only thing I really fear is ending up alone, but that can happen even with marriage. I would like to have some sort of companionship especially since most of my friends seem to be pairing off and no longer available.
But I don’t need a man to have companionship. And I don’t need love to have companionship. I didn’t even have that companionship in my last relationship. He was never around, couldn’t afford vacations, and always had to work holidays and anniversaries.
So in a sense, I’m used to being alone except now I’m a lot happier. That doesn’t mean I don’t get lonely from time to time and wonder what I’m missing out on that everyone else seems to have.
“I’m saving up to buy a house. I know what I want, and I’m okay being on my own,” my friend tells me.
Even when I was in a relationship, I always found strength in her resilience. She’s endured many ups and downs in her life and yet she is still able to love, to find love, and to be financially and emotionally independent. She seems wise beyond her years and sometimes I have to remind myself that she’s my age. And like me, she has doubts.
“My dream is to own my own house. I want to design it, upkeep it, make it my own,” I say. But nowhere in that dream is another man. Maybe when I was in a relationship, that dream changed a bit?
But when I moved out on my own again this past year and bought my first power drill, I remembered that dream had been mine first. And that I was capable of achieving it on my own, that I could be happy with or without someone by my side.
My friend and I sit on the cushioned bench in silence. The dog has quieted down, and I hear fireworks in the distance for Memorial Day. I think of the fact that I may have another autoimmune disease, and the many other trials I’ve endured this past year without a man in my life. Did I ever feel like I was missing something then?
I smile at my friend and watch two black bugs scuttle towards one another on the concrete. But just before they meet, they change direction and pass by one another instead. Neither one turns around.