My friend Sarah and I just went to see Bridget Jones’s Baby. If you have any affection for the previous films and/or the books (though I know this film deviates wildly from the latest book), I highly recommend it. I found it delightful. But then, Bridget and I are old friends. And it filled me with all sorts of conflicting emotions to see her getting older, knowing that I’m getting older, too. For the past 15 years or so, I’ve identified strongly with Bridget. She was a “singleton,” like me. When I first discovered her, I was in my 20s, and still hoping to be married before I was 30. But as the years flew by, I soon found that I was older than Bridget in either of the movies (which I watched countless times) and still a singleton.
Now I find myself about to shed that label, and it’s giving me kind of an identity crisis. Being single when I was younger was not that big a deal, when most of the people my age were also single. But as I got into my 30s, my mid-30s, my late 30’s, meeting other singletons my age got harder and harder. And finding myself something of a rarity, I identified more and more strongly as “single.” Up until I changed it yesterday, the subtitle of my blog began, “A single thirtysomething hospital chaplain . . .” In a world that seems made for couples and families, being on my own made me a sort of underdog, and who doesn’t love to root for the underdog? Full disclosure: I’m a type 4 on the enneagram, which some of you will know means that I always feel somehow “different,” and see that as both blessing and curse. That was definitely true of my singleness.
There were days when I was damn proud to be part of this small club, to be a singleton like Bridget Jones and Liz Lemon and Mindy Lahiri and Jane Austen and even Oprah! I enjoyed the freedom of being on my own schedule, spending my money however I chose (which wasn’t always a good thing), going out with friends anytime I wanted or inviting them to hang out at my house, and knowing that I could pick up and move anywhere if a new opportunity arose, just like I did in coming to Charleston. Being single definitely had its advantages. When I read about one of my favorite authors becoming a wife, I’ll admit I was a little disappointed to see her leave our club and join the married masses. I wanted to keep as many strong, cool, smart, independent women as possible on our side. But there were also days when I was like Bridget in her less proud moments, drinking too much wine and singing along to sad songs and lamenting my failure to find the right man. I remember crying with friends, both single and married, about the overwhelming loneliness I felt at times. On those days, I just wanted to be married.
Now here I am, six months away from walking down the aisle to wed my own personal version of Mark Darcy, someone wonderful who likes me very much (loves me, even) just as I am. I’m leaving the club. I will no longer be a singleton. Will I become (perish the thought) one of the “smug marrieds” Bridget always dreaded seeing? After being single for the first 21 years of my adult life, will I still be me when I get married?
(To be continued very soon.)