I had dinner last night with a very dear friend, a male who is about 25 years older than I am--but quite possibly more lively, and certainly sharper and wittier. He's the kind of person you hope to meet at a cocktail party--and when you do meet him there, you have absolutely no interest in the rest of the room, because you've already reached the brightest spot. He is something of a life advisor, for me, so we ended up talking about my dating woes, among other things.
Lately, I've been feeling a bit more disconcerted than usual about the state of my romantic future--not to mention my romantic past--and I wondered out loud if that might have to do with my age; maybe I'm old enough that every not-quite-right situation feels like one more nail in the coffin, rather than like a stepping stone along the way to the island of love? (All right, I'm gonna drop the tortured metaphors now.) I mused that perhaps I'm feeling particularly troubled right now because, for a long time, I saw "creative writing" as the big commitment in my life; but now that I've had so much difficulty selling my novel, I feel ready in a way that I haven't before to get more serious about settling down. And yet I'm worried, as I told him, that I might just be too stubborn and too independent and too set in my ways--and too scared--to ever get all that attached to anyone.
I didn't explicitly say: My deepest fear is that I'll never find someone to spend the rest of my life with ...but that was the jist of it.
My friend said, "Well, if someone has proposed to you at any point in your life, then I'm sure you'll get married."
But what if no one has ... ?
Of course, my best (male) friend in high school used to propose to me all the time, whenever he got wasted. My response was to laugh and punch him in the arm and tell him to shut the hell up and stop being a drunken idiot. Then he'd sing that Dylan line: You got a lotta nerve, to say you are my friend.
(He still manages to know me better than anyone else, even though I haven't spent very much time with him since we were teenagers. And the last time I saw him--just before he flew off to a foreign land to get married in a small civil ceremony--I went home and cried my eyes out. Not because I felt like we were meant to be. More because I loved him so much and still didn't feel like we were meant to be.)
And in my twenties--when I was vastly more screwed up than I am now (hard to believe, I'm sure, but true)--I received a couple of heavy-duty confessions of love, by way of hand-written letters. Both were written by people I had enormous crushes on. But soon after receiving them, I freaked out and turned on the letter-writers, despite the fact that I'd been totally obsessed with them prior to receiving their epistles. (See? I told you I was even more bonkers then.)
But I'd say those three examples are about the closest I've come to marriage proposals, by way of people confessing their undying love for me--which, of course, is nothing like a marriage proposal, not really.
So I wrote to one of my best male friends and said, "Do you think I'll ever get married?" And he said (more or less), "Maybe if you stop dating jailbait and give the more serious older guys who like you a chance--maybe then you might."
Anyway, my real question for today is this: What do YOU guys think about this marriage question? Do you think there's anything that will indicate a person will get married some day? Do you think there's anything that will ensure she won't? Can even those of us in our thirties who've had screwy loves lives up until this point turn things around? (Can you ask your mothers and fathers about all this?)