My Abuelita came over the other day.
She summoned me over to tell me in hushed Spanish, how beautiful I was. How my long dark hair is just begging to be done in a fancy style for a special date. She said my eyes were so bright- my thick eyebrows deserved to be raised in mischief the way they used to. According to her, I need to meet a nice man and resume dating before I get “too old” and set in my ways.
Abuelita (Spanish for grandmother) is in her mid- eighties and has been a widow for 49 years.
“I didn’t date” she said. “I never re-married. You don’t want to grow old alone.”
I swallowed a lump. “Oh, Abuelita…” I thought.
“She’s right!” I heard my mom chime in from the kitchen.
Here comes the speech… again.
I’ve been single for two years. When I first wrote my inaugural TOI post last year that touched on my broken engagement, I received an overwhelming response, but most interesting of the responses was the one from the matchmaker.
“Punim,” she [the matchmaker] said, “have I got a match for you!”
Cue the Fiddler on The Roof song:
I should have shrugged it off, but curiosity got the better of me. I actually know someone who went to an old-world type matchmaker and was successfully married off to a great match! They are happily married and have two children. Maybe fate would strike and this woman held the key to my romantic future.
I agreed to a Skype call (after all, I had never met this person. That’s how you end up on a 20/20 special about people who get killed by strangers they met online.)
[For the record, she was not crazy or dangerous.]
She was everything I imagined a stereotypical matchmaker would be: chatty, friendly, and a comforting smile that could melt your heart.
After a slew of questions, it became obvious to both of us that I was failing the interview.
“Punim,” she said, “you’re too strong willed. It is obvious to me that you are un-matchable. You need to learn to bend a little bit and show your softer side or you will never get married. Men don’t want to marry women they have to compete with in a power play”.
“But I don’t want to get married!” I protested. “I’ve been down that road and I don’t think it’s for me. Why can’t I just hang out and date and enjoy being single?”
“Because,” she replied, “that’s how you end up with a break-up cat and desperately single into your 30’s hoping for an accidental pregnancy.”
This was not the time to tell her that already had the break-up dog and validate her statement. Nor was it time to tell her about my infertility. I thanked her for her time and bid her a great day.
Maybe it was time to swear off sex again? Or maybe let’s not get so drastic.
Because here’s the thing: I enjoy being single. Do I miss waking up to my habibi brewing coffee and kissing me on his way out the door to face a morning of Los Angeles traffic? Sure. But I don’t miss the bed hogging, snoring, or invasion of someone constantly in my space.
I also love this time I’ve had to myself. For the first time in my adult life, I have been single and managed to avoid a committed relationship for some time. I have never been that girl, I’ve always been the girl in a serious relationship. I’ve always lost myself a little bit in trying to fulfill both a traditional homemaker/modern career woman persona. I didn’t just rebuild my life after that break up, I found myself. These last two years have been glorious in discovering chutzpah I didn’t know I had and growing in self discovery down a path I never imagined possible.
So, to the matchmaker, my abuelita, and my mom I’ll tell you as the song says: “Make me no match, find me no find, catch me no catch.” It’ll happen when it’s supposed to and if it never does- I’m OK with that too.
Being single is not a death sentence. It’s my choice and for the moment, it’s suits me just fine.
This op-ed was written with permission of the most gracious matchmaker and new-found friend. Name respectfully omitted.