On Being Perpetually Single and Satisfied

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by Michelle Denise Jackson

My name is Michelle. I will be 25 years old in three months and 12 days. And I have never been in a “formal” relationship. On my private blog/online journal, I’ve written quite a bit about the really fucked up situation I was involved in during my first two years of college. And I’ve written a lot about how I’m trying to move on from that situation. And what it’s like being perpetually single when so many of your close friends and relatives are getting married, having children, or at least being sexed up on the regular. I may or may not transfer some of those posts over here one day.

But what I’ve hated even more than being the kind of girl-I-mean-grown-ass-woman who watches reruns of One Tree Hill and YouTube vlogs (like this and this) to curb her epic loneliness is all of the super wack and fucked-up advice I’ve received over the years. Whether it was from friends, elders, magazines, website, or books… I would say 90% of it has been garbage. And all of it has been pretty unkind to Black Women/Women of Color, women who do not seek to serve traditional gender roles, or women who choose to be recognized as whole human beings.

I won’t lie. I yearn to be in a committed, long-term partnership. Hopefully of the life-long, legally recognized kind where I get tax cuts and health benefits. I want to have a family. I want to buy a house and a car that will haul around my brood using environmentally sustainable technology. I want to have a big-ass wedding to flaunt our extraordinary love to all my friends and family… and to prove to my mother that, once and for all, I am not a closeted lesbian. I have wanted these things since I was a little girl.

I didn’t expect to be single well into my mid-twenties. I thought by now I would’ve been on a first date, experienced a few make-out couch sessions, and have brought home at least a couple of boys to introduce to my parents. It hasn’t happened. Depending on the day, I’m varying levels of concerned/torn-up about this. It ranges from delightfully indifferent, as I ain’t got the time or the patience to put up with bullshit… to incredibly sad and wallowing in my “4ever alone” self-pity.

However, I don’t want anyone telling me how I should feel. Or what I should do to “get a man”. Especially when my (online) dating legacy in the 21st century is that I’m a Black Woman, and ain’t nobody really want me. Because the point has never been about “getting a man”. This isn’t about me thinking I need a partner to be happy or complete or successful or fulfilled.

I come from three generations of women who were once married, but learned how to handle their business and thrive on their own. Momma. Grandmomma. Great-grandmomma. I have seen how hard divorce has been on them. But I have also seen how much more vibrant and whole they were in themselves when they left marriages to men who would never give them the shared life they deserved. (No hating on my daddy; he’s a good man.)

I want to be partnered because life is supposed to be shared. Despite never being in an exclusive-boo-thang situation before, I have been in love. It’s wonderful. I want to have children, and I believe children should have the opportunity to grow up in a two-parent home. I want to be partnered because I’ve seen really great relationships, and it seems like the BEST thing in the world. I want to be partnered because I want to build a life with another human being to learn and grow and laugh, for better or worse. I want to have regular sex with one person in the context of a committed relationship. (Sorry if that’s TMI.) And I want to be with someone who will do all the inconvenient shit I hate and vice versa—I’ll cook if you’ll drive; I’ll handle taxes every year if you make sure our home is fumigated.

What I don’t want? I don’t want to be told that I can only get a man if I look a certain way. I don’t want to be told that I can’t make more money than my partner… or be smarter than my partner… or feel like a whole person without my partner. I don’t want to be told to lower my standards, so I can be loved by some triflin’-ass Joe Schmoe. I don’t want to be told I’m responsible for waiting to possibly transform some scrub into a worthy significant other. (I am not your mother.) I don’t want to listen to anybody who is using the Bible or The Rules or any other ancient, culturally questionable text as a source for their “expertise”.

If I marry, it’ll be great, I assume. If it’s not, welp… I know a thing or two about divorce. If I don’t marry, I won’t die. I won’t shrivel away into a spinsterdom populated by too many cats in my hoarder’s apartment. I’ll have fun. I’ll be a really shitty aunt until my nieces and nephews are in their teens, because I truly believe the only small kids I’ll ever like are my own. I’ll travel a lot. I’ll get to decorate my home the way I want, with no compromises. I may adopt some cats or some kids, or both.

I’ll be all right. Just like my momma, and the women before her, taught me.

Michelle Denise Jackson is a writer, performer, and storyteller from Southern California. She has performed her work in Southern California, New York, New Jersey, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. For more information, you may visit her website at www.michelledenisejackson.com.

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