Saturday, November 28, 2009

Almost Thirty

Sometimes people meddle because they care.

Last night, someone told me I was "almost thirty," listing this as a reason that I should hurry up finding a husband and getting pregnant.
I'm about four months shy of twenty-six. Since when is that "almost thirty"?
- - - - -

Earlier in the evening, I had said, "Let me tell you about all the great guys I've been meeting!" and was met with the following:
"Don't tell us about the guys. Talk to me when you find The Guy."
"I am not looking for The Guy right now."

- - - - -

Later, the married couples were discussing when they plan to have children. That's when I was told to hurry up. I think I was starting to list the reasons why I will not hurry up when my age was (inaccurately, hyperbolically) pointed out.
"Don't you want our kids to be able to play together?" I was asked.
"Your kids can babysit my kids," I responded.

- - - - -

Tonight, someone reminded me of a saying I had last year. I'd nearly forgotten it. When going to holiday parties, I had trouble getting there with everything put together: my appearance, my food, my timely arrival. It would be so nice, I thought, if there was someone else here to watch the oven while I write down the Google Maps directions or vice versa. It would be nice to have someone read the directions to me.
When I did succeed in getting it all together and out the door, the damn cakes always slid around in the car. Everything is at an angle in the Sunfire, and normal driving activities--turning, merging onto a highway, stopping at a traffic light--all caused any objects on the front seat or the floor to sail toward the windshield. I need a boyfriend, I used to think, just to hold the cake in the car!.
Someone told me I set back feminism twenty years every time I said this, but I disagree. If he's holding the cake in the passenger seat, then who's driving the car?

- - - - -

I realized recently that whenever I hear that someone's gotten their Masters degree and they are my age or--gasp--a year younger, I get a little sad. I haven't even started on my Masters degree yet. I know that I shouldn't live someone else's life, but it makes me a little sad because I used to think it would be my life, to do everything possible for an early start on a brilliant career. Now I hope to begin a PhD program before I'm thirty--which apparently I'm almost.
Some women get upset when they see, on Facebook for example, that someone their age (or younger!) has gotten married and/or had a baby. That's how I feel when I see that someone else has completed a graduate program.

What am I doing with my life now, working towards neither career nor family? I'm making myself useful, I'm not hurting anyone, and I'm enjoying my life. I haven't neglected my goals; I'm just not rushing headlong toward them. In fact, I am working towards my career in science, just in a slower, less orderly fashion than I'd once imagined. It is the "casual dating" approach to a career, as opposed to the "married at twenty-two" approach.
And I was never working towards a family; I only want that for about five minutes a month if, during the week I'm ovulating, I see a cute baby on the bus.
I'm not sure how many people understand this; they either don't understand why I'm taking a meandering, leisurely path towards my PhD, or they never understood why that was my goal in the first place.
They worry because they care--every single one of these people. I have to keep in mind that it comes from a good place.

No one in Oregon questions my choices; maybe they just don't know me well enough to be concerned with how I manage my life. Maybe they will grow to care, and pretty soon I'll have a whole new batch of people telling me whom to date and which career to pursue. All I know is that in Oregon, I've never once worried about who would carry the cake in the car.

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