I’ve been single for about a year now.
Just before that, I was seeing someone for about six months in a whirlwind fling that seemed just so full of passion and lovely feelings. My heart cracked when we broke up—it’s never nice looking ahead to what feels like a whole lotta loneliness. I realised at the time that for all my “Independent Woman” ranting, I actually really liked being in a relationship, I liked being loved and surrounded by those warm, fuzzy, coddled feelings—who doesn’t?
So there I was, 32 years old and single again. Possibly, one of the only single people left in my huge family of cousins; and one of the only single girls left in my large gaggle of friends.
I set out, for the rest of the year with my heart wide open, if a little desperate, looking for love and romance again.
And you know what? I found it.
Gabrielle Bernstein says a lovely thing in her book Spirit Junkie, which goes like this:
[A Course in Miracles by Marianne Williamson] teaches us to make our brotherly relationships (friendship) more romantic and our romantic relationships more brotherly. […] Because I now found romance and sparks within my companionable relationships, I was able to take even more pressure off men. I now understood the true meaning of having romantic brotherly relationships.
I started to find that my stomach would do excited leapfrogs when I knew I’d be meeting a best friend for tea—almost the same way it used to feel butterflies before going on a date.
I would thrill to find handwritten letters from old friends around the world in my mailbox when I got home at the end of a long day—almost the same way I used to feel when I was gifted something by a boy.
I would spend hours curled up on a sofa giggling into my phone as I exchanged funny conversations with a friend over text—feeling almost the same, if not more, girlish joy that I did when a boy I liked messaged me.
I had spent almost all my life thinking of romance as something that necessarily involved a) a man b) flowers / chocolate / gifts c) beautiful declarations of word or d) all of the above. But as I wised up to reality, I did a quick check with a dictionary and found it defined as:
“a novel or other prose narrative depicting heroic or marvellous deeds, pageantry, etc., usually in a historical or imaginary setting;
the colorful world, life, or conditions depicted in such tales;
a baseless, made-up story, usually full of exaggeration or fanciful invention;
a romantic spirit, sentiment, emotion, or desire.”
So it was about “fanciful” imaginings, “marvellous” deeds, a sense of heroism, colorful worlds, storytelling and adventure. Not a man, stalk of flowers or fairy-tale ending in sight. I decided this was the real romance I would look for and create in my every day life.
I’ve discovered that the opportunity for romance appears at every moment, whether we’re snuggled up with someone (who doesn’t even have to be someone we’re dating) or all alone in bed. I found a curious happiness in discovering things anew—going for walks through a city I’ve lived in for 10 years but never explored, rereading old books, waking up to sunshine, being alone in the quiet, soft, white space of my tiny room, meditating and breathing into every breath like it’s a new moment (because it is).
There is love all the time in friendships which we so often overlook or underplay in search for an illusive “one.” And although I wouldn’t deny that yes, I would love to find that one special person to fall in love and share a life with, there is so much to love and be loved from the people I already know and continue to meet.
I am full of romance now, finding it in the quiet weekly routine of meeting a favourite friend for beer at the same spot under a fairy-lit tree;
in the chirpy, mid-day text from another friend, just to ask how you are, what you’re up to;
in creating a mix-tape for a friend who lives across an ocean;
in receiving a candied apple from a chef friend who said she thought of you as she was creating new sugary recipes
in a Facebook chat with someone who remembers all the same things you do from when you were 21.
In all of this, and more, there is also adventure, comedy, surprises, love and understanding, empathy, discovery and love—always so much love.So yes, I’m single, and my whole brood of cousins are still asking me why I haven’t got a boyfriend yet. But you know, for the first time in a very long time, I’m enjoying this aloneness and the unexpectedness of romance in the places I’d never thought of as anything special.
The greatest surprise of all? That in this solitary “singleness,” I feel surrounded, buoyed up and romanced by the most love, from the largest number of people I have ever known.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Catherine Monkman