“Carefree” is s hardly a word to describe anyone’s state of mind these days. “Liberated” is another unlikely adjective; same goes for “hopeful.”
And yet – and yet – I find myself feeling all of these things. Not every day, and not often all at once. They are certainly not the only emotions I experience. But all of these feelings are nonetheless present. And I’m leaning in.
My sense of freedom, I suspect, derives in large part from being currently unattached. No husband, no partner, no child. There are days when this creates a degree of loneliness. Sometimes the loneliness is so deep as to be tangible. Sometimes cynicism bites unexpectedly, and I have to stop myself from rolling my eyes at an adorable young couple, or stifle the hitch in my breath from a sudden rush of poignancy at seeing a parent and child.
Yet as the months have passed and the year closes, I think less about what potential losses come hand-in-glove with singledom, and more on the possibilities that my independence creates.
I’ve learned how to do a lot of things. How to add weatherstripping around a doorframe. How to connect a PS4 and then an antenna to skirt around exorbitant cable fees. I bought a cordless drill (along with a set of titanium bits and a toolbox), and have used it to install a ceiling light, put in a shelf that I made myself, and attach curtain rods. Small things, perhaps, but these little flashes of capability still feel damn good.
I’ve learned introspection and how to make honest, uncomfortable reckonings with myself. I learned that it’s OK to eat cake and take time to ride my fake Peloton. I’ve learned that love comes in many guises, and that compassion is a gift for which demand far exceeds supply. I’ve learned that no matter how much duress the world inflects, we all still have a duty to abide by right and wrong. I know what makes me happy. And I know a little more of how I might find it.
And so I go on. On into the pleasures of everyday things that are nonetheless glorious: a mug of coffee on a cold morning, shared laughter (even if it’s over Skype), the warm shape of a cat curled beside me. I go on into the life that I built. Into the life that I am building.
And I think – perhaps with a little pride, perhaps with a little wistfulness – of the words attributed to another independent woman:
“I will have here but one mistress and no master.”
~ Elizabeth I