Evelyn Sophie: Independent Woman

I would feel better if you were a man and as independent as you are.

I stand in line at Reagan National, waiting to board my Southwest plane to Dallas. It was 40-degrees when I left my apartment this morning, but I dress plainly in jeans, my favorite color blotted flats, and a pink vintage t-shirt. In the fluorescent light, passersby can see my pale pink bra underneath. I fold my black jacket in my arms while my backpack pushes against the bar separating me from the boarding line to the gate attendant behind me.

A middle aged woman with blond waves next to me looks down at my right hand and smiles.

“Oh that’s interesting,” she says, pointing to my mood ring, now an Ohio River green. When I bought it in a thrift store in Louisville, I picked it out for its design (and I have always had a thing for mood rings – the bracelet on my left hand, which I stole from my mom, always emanates two mood stones with a pearl stone in the middle). I didn’t realize until later that the ring’s intricate silver design was in the shape of a dolphin. Who doesn’t love dolphins?

“It’s pretty,” she clarifies. I smile and say thanks. I acknowledge my normal reception to her intersection into my life. Usually I’m awkward, uttering a mild something or try to force a half-smile. But I’m finally leaving this DC life and heading towards the 80-degree, sunny weather of Dallas, where distant family also reside. I am happy even if tired from a 7 a.m. Saturday wake-up call.

I would feel better if you were a man and as independent as you are.

I love sleeping on planes. I pay the extra $12 for early-bird check-in just so I can get a window seat near the front of the plane and sleep my way through air bumps and obnoxious one-time conversations. My A30 boarding number gives me this exact wish. I never check my bag anymore. With no baggage fees on Southwest, I carry my favorite travel backpack and purse, just small enough to fit underneath the seat in front of me. I’m in and out in five seconds flat. I love efficiency.

When I board the plane, I immediately put in my headphones and place my sunglasses on. I listen to Iron and Wine or The Head in the Heart or my latest favorite “Weighty Ghost” by Wintersleep. And then I think about my life. When was the last time I didn’t board a plane alone? Probably back when I was with my ex – we traveled to Louisville once to visit my family. But we didn’t travel back together; we left at different times.

Over time, the airport and its plane existence has become my sole escape. I make interesting conversations with strangers, who I never see again, and I do a lot of writing and reading. But lately I’ve just been tacking on points to my favorite word game on my phone. The game gives you a wheel of six letters, and with no time limit, you must figure out all the words possibly made from those six letters. I’ve had this game on my phone since I got my first smartphone back in 2011. It continues to surprise me. Even my mom has joined the Whirly Word world.

But mostly I play this game when I don’t want to think about anything else. And I have plenty to think about now. I prefer to be alone. I need time to digest and observe the world. Airports are the perfect places to do so (though I’ve had enough of strollers and curious toddlers for one lifetime). I think about something my dad recently shared.

I would feel better if you were a man and as independent as you are.

He admitted it was chauvinistic, and I didn’t fault him for it. I know what he was trying to say. And maybe that’s why women like me end up alone? I even asked advice from an ex on this matter.

Is it possible I haven’t made it past a second date because men are deterred by my independence and self-sufficiency? Not only that but I have my shit together. I’m no longer insecure and wandering. I’ve made it through graduate school; I’ve published a book; I’ve started this blog; I have a stable, sustaining job with benefits. I live in an expensive city. And I prefer to travel alone.

But if this is truly the case, as even my ex said could likely be, then I’d rather be independent and self-sufficient than in a relationship. Now women will tell me I can have both, and I know this to be true. Is it so bad if I don’t? My dad would think so. So, too, would the rest of my family (except my mom; she wants me to be happy no matter what).

I’m educated; I’m financially independent; I have ambitions; and I am a woman. Is that so wrong? I don’t think so. Relationships have never been my number one goal. Marriage has never been a destination. Raising a family has never been a priority. And yet I am constantly feeling pushed in that direction and being down on myself for not being anywhere near that destination.

When I was in college, I used to tell my family I wouldn’t get married until 29. I figured that would give me 10 years to figure out another good excuse for being single. A few years ago, I thought I was on that path, and I felt a little ashamed for selling out so quickly. Now I am almost 29 and I am nowhere near being married, nor do I want to be.

But something else has changed in those 10 years since I first settled on a marrying age. I don’t necessarily want the whole package, but I have always wanted a daughter. This isn’t something I’ve admitted to many people, and only a few know about this (well, up until now). I value the relationship I have with my mother, and I think it’s tough growing up a woman in any century. I want to have a daughter to share not only what I know and have learned but to support the strength of the next generation of women.

Tracy-Year-One012-web

I want this daughter to do more than I ever will. And I want her to feel like she can do whatever she wants to do without having to live in a man’s world. I know it’s a pipe dream. And I may never have this daughter. But if I do, I’ve already decided on a name (because if you know me at all, you know I have a thing for the meaning of names).

Evelyn Sophie – it means “wise woman” and the “lyn” is derived from my own middle name. Now it’s likely if I do ever have a child, and it’s a girl, she won’t have this name. But for me it’s always been more about the representation of it.

Because I want to live in a world where it’s okay to be as independent as I am and a woman. In fact I want to live in a world where it’s actually (actually being the key point here) okay to be as independent as I am and a woman. And one day I want to be able to tell that daughter

I am proud you are a woman and as independent as you are.

I don’t think anyone has ever said that to me before. And maybe I have to sell myself short in order to get a man in this world? But if that’s the case, then I’m okay traveling alone and having strangers compliment me on my mood ring.

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