I’m not sure if it’s because actual humans my age have started to get married. I’m not sure if it’s because I am starting to think that the astrologer I saw in August was full of shit. I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve written and journaled and dated and obsessed about my romantic life, and for some reason, I still cannot find the relationship I want.
I recently turned to a book called Spinster by Kate Bolick to see if it had any answers for me, as I’m well on my way to becoming a twenty-something abuelita. In the end, I wanted to chuck it against a wall BECAUSE Bolick ends up in a relationship in the end. Also, she’s in several long-term relationships in the book, so I feel like that’s not a spinster.
I want real spinster stories. I want to see a story about a single woman who is not sure if her happy ending is coming to come through. I want to read more stories about women who prefer to eat popcorn in bed while watching Gilmore Girls instead of going on another mind-numbing date. I want to read about the women who never found that monogamous partner and what they do when it’s 10 PM and they really want a back rub. I want to know about the women whose fingers lack wedding rings and what they plan to do with their one and precious life.
At least, that’s the narrative I’ve lived so far. And, from where I’m standing, it’s a lot harder to savor the stretch in between the beginning and the happy ending when it’s your own life.
I am a bad yogi. Though I’ve been attending classes for three years, I’ve only recently committed to mastering crow pose. I loathe inversions. I don’t breathe like Darth Vader. And my cynical side often asserts itself quite loudly during class. Once, when an instructor contemplated, “Why is it that we breathe?,” I decided not to answer, “Well, Becky, it’s a reflex.”
Since November 8, I’ve felt a sense of low-level anxiety and dread every single day. Before Trump took office, I took each of his comments as further proof that we were headed straight for dictatorship. Now that he’s in office, I keep waiting for the worst to happen: Abortion has been banned. DACA has been revoked. International travel frozen. Gay marriage rescinded. A new war has begun. It’s as if I’ve illustrated a dystopian state in my mind, and every day, something happens to put us closer to that awful future.
Like the women of Wicked, I eventually had to put a name to this feeling: Loathing. Unadulterated loathing.
It takes a Trump presidency for strangers in Boston to smile at one another on public transportation. Don’t get too excited: it was still a New England grimace, not a warm Southern greeting. But as I entered the Red Line with my poster in tow, strangers bearing unfortunately shaped hats, plastic bags, and colorful signs all acknowledged each other as comrades on the way to the Boston Women’s March.
This Saturday, I joined my parents, friends, and millions of folks across the world to march in protest against the rigged election of Donald Trump. After meeting my parents, my mom’s colleague, her partner, and their young son for breakfast, our motley crew headed over to the Boston Common to join a sea of people.
Like many great ideas, it started in a bar. On a sultry evening in July, I gathered with three of my friends from college at a dive bar in the East Village. As we traded work experiences, campus gossip, and various cheap cocktails, my friend Allie breathlessly sang the praises of an astrologer she had visited earlier in the month.
“I walked in to Deborah’s apartment, and she looked me up and down and said, ‘Well, aren’t you in need of guidance!'” she reported. “And I said, ‘You’re right, I am! Her session changed my life. My sister even visits her weekly.”
It was all the persuasion I needed to book a session with Deborah the astrologer. In that moment of a long and underwhelming summer, I too was in need of guidance. I had left Boston with a year of teaching experience, a job offer, and a clean slate awaiting me in August. I had also experienced a short relationship that left me pondering about what I really needed and wanted in a partner. All I desired was some reassurance: was I going the right way? And why did I insist on falling in love with men who already had girlfriends?
The other day, my seventh grade students were complaining loudly about the “buzzer test” they had to take in gym class later that day.
“It’s awful,” one girl informed me. “You have to run as a beeper goes off and then it gets faster and faster.”
“I’m just not even going to try,” her friend added.
I remembered being in their shoes as an unathletic youngster. I have a singularly terrible memory of being forced to do the same test in high school as “Dominic the Donkey” played in the background for some inexplicable reason, and thinking to myself, “This is what hell must look like.”
But times have changed! I explained to my students that I also hated running when I was their age, but now I go run outside for fun, so maybe they should give it their best shot!
They pondered it for a second. Finally, one student piped up and said, “Yeah, I’m still not going to try.”
In her masterful book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, Mindy Kaling details a creative exercise strategy that she terms “Revenge Fantasies While Jogging:”
“If it weren’t for my imagination, I would weigh ten thousand pounds. This is because the only way I am able to exercise anymore is through a long and vivid revenge fantasy.”
Examples of her dreams range from the dramatic “my husband is murdered in Central Park on an idyllic spring day” to the less violent “I get that woman who was rude to me at Saks in trouble.” While I admire Kaling’s inventiveness, I can’t say that those fantasies occupy my mind as I jog slowly around the Tufts track. I’m normally busy baby-watching, dog-watching, or man-watching. All of these are quite pleasant diversions from my sluggish pace.
Instead, as I’ve settled into my new city and started dating again, my mind has been occupied with a different type of fantasy. Sometimes, I dream about meeting people who have ghosted me and giving them a piece of my mind.