On Being 30 and Single

Pardon me for the radio silence…I’ve been chugging away on my afghan (about 3/4 of the way finished now on the main portion and I just got the yarn in the border color a couple of days ago), but other than that I’ve been dealing with general blogger’s block.  That is, until yesterday.  Let’s see, I recently started emailing an old friend of mine from when I was attending college (I only attended for three semesters at a local community college before dropping out due to financial and transportation problems, and I still have aspirations to return someday to finish the associate’s degree I started; this friend and I attended the same high school, graduating a year apart, but we didn’t meet until college), and when I informed him of my brother’s wedding date, he responded with a somewhat cynical email about all of his friends’ marriages that he’d seen fall apart.  I kindly let him know how cynical he sounded, and his response and my reply ended up being quite reflective of something that I don’t think gets talked about a lot in a real, honest manner: the experience of being a single thirtysomething.  What follows is reflective of my experience, and my experience alone, of being single and in my thirties (granted, I am only four months into being in my thirties, but I am in my thirties).

I don’t have much of a dating history, just one date in high school to my senior prom, and that was 12 years ago.  I haven’t been on a date since, and while it bugged me quite a bit in my 20s, it doesn’t bug me so much anymore now in my 30s.  Sure, I get the occasional questions asking why I don’t have a boyfriend or (on rare occasions) the assumption that because I don’t have a boyfriend that I’m into girls (sorry, I have no interest in playing with other ladies’ fun parts), but otherwise, it doesn’t bother me and I don’t care if it bothers anyone else.  Other than that one date, I really have no other experience other than that of being perpetually single. It hasn’t been easy, but I tend to approach this with the mindset that I’d rather date few men of quality than a sizable quantity of men and hoping I strike gold.  Unfortunately for me, there aren’t a lot of quality men where I live.  Where I live, the ones that aren’t married are the type where I take one look at them and I know I could do better.  Most of the quality men where I live have usually had the sense to move away to pursue better opportunities than what’s necessarily available in small town and suburban Florida.  And what remains are men of simpler means and simpler needs, the kind that like to go four-wheeling, mudding, or fishing.  I have never been an outdoors type of person.  Not a lot of these men are into reading the kind of books I like to read, or would be willing to pay attention to my thinking out loud about my knitting or other creative endeavors, or share my ideas and opinions on things that matter to me.  Sometimes I think I was born in the wrong part of the country.  I’m the kind of girl who knows what she likes and knows what she needs in a potential boyfriend or husband: I need someone who challenges me mentally; who is a voice of encouragement in whatever I decide to do; and who will allow me to be my own ridiculous, opinionated, goofy, intuitive self without trying place his own expectations on me and holding me up to be something I can’t.  I’m, among other things, a terrible housekeeper, a pretty good cook, a somewhat masculine woman in personality (though I am not above wearing a dress or a shorter skirt when I want to feel feminine, which isn’t very often), and unashamed of my geekdom.  I know by this point I will never be a girly-girl, a supermodel/beauty queen, June Cleaver, or a trophy wife…but I hope I can still be a nice match for somebody.  I know at this point in my life, though, I am not settling for anything.  I deserve the best, and I’m okay with admitting it.

It seems like society often looks down on people my age who are still single.  And true, a lot of people in my age group are starting to marry and have families of their own.  And yet, no matter if it’s the government or a religious group, most social institutions seem to value people more if they’re married: married people get tax breaks, married people get to have children without being judged for having them out of wedlock, married people are more trustworthy because the single person might try to *gasp* sleep with your spouse!  Sometimes it feels like in the eyes of society, though I may not be worthless, because I am single I am literally worth less in social capital.  Now, all this may have been an issue in my twenties, but honestly, now that I’m in my thirties, I don’t care.

I think I’m happier now being single at 30 than I was being single at 20; part of it is just understanding myself a little better as a person and being able to own my flaws, and the other part is just the fact that there isn’t really any pressure for me to fit in anymore. In your twenties, you’re coming out of adolescence and trying to find your place in the world, and people place a lot of expectations on you; in your thirties, you’re more assured of yourself and feeling more confident in your own decisions and aspirations. I feel no personal pressure to date, I feel no pressure to marry, and I feel no pressure to have a child.  I’ve accepted the possibility that my life may not necessarily include a husband or children. I could be happier when it comes to things I want to do in life (career, education, traveling, et cetera), but where I am right now is where I’m needed.  I could be happier with how I feel about my looks, but then again, it’s all superficial anyway.  But I’m content with where my life is right now for the first time in a long time.  I’m not angry with the world.  I’m not angry at anyone.  And I’m not angry with where life has taken me.  I could be happy, but if content is all the universe wants to give me right now, then I’m okay with it.  At this point I am just along for the ride, and I hope I can get as much out of life as I can.  I wasted my twenties with fear, anger, and cynicism.  I hope I won’t do the same with my thirties.

I hope other single thirtysomethings out there can take some solace in my thoughts and know that their worth is not determined by their relationship or marital status.  And those that do have love in their lives, know that what you have is rare, special, and something that not everyone will get a chance to experience in this life.  Cherish it, treasure it, and don’t let small things get in the way of the bigger picture.  And to those out there perpetually single like me, don’t fret over it; take the opportunity to learn great things about yourselves, appreciate all of your strengths and own your flaws, and don’t be afraid to put yourself first.  Singlehood should no longer be a scarlet letter, a badge of shame.  Singlehood may be a part of my life, but it doesn’t define my life.  I’m a geek, a knitter, an aunt, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a blogger, and a smartass who just happens to be 30 and single.

Some Knitting & An Announcement

It’s been an interesting week, to say the least.

First, the knitting.  I’ve had quite a bit of knitting time this week because my dad decided to take the week off from work (he used one of his vacation weeks), so it hasn’t been so busy around here.  I was able to finish another motif of small squares that I was working on (15 squares in a diagonal orientation, going from 5 squares in the first row, to 4 squares in the second row, and so on, all the way down to one square.  The rows alternated between pink and purple.

And here’s how it’s looking so far.

First, the wide shot of the whole thing.

image

Now, it is folded up in a couple of places to make room for most of it to be seen on my bed, but the section I was just working on is in the lower left-hand portion of the photo.  As you can see, it has pretty much caught up with the 25-square checkerboard I finished last month.  In fact, that pink square at the very upper-left hand corner of the latest section (which you will see in more detail shortly) marks 10 small squares up that particular side.  I have reached a pretty big milestone: I have filled in a little over half of this afghan, which measures 18 small squares by 18 small squares.  When I resume work on this project, I will be working some more on the right-hand side of the afghan and starting to fill that in.  Considering I started this nearly four months ago with some leftover scrap yarn and decided to go with it, it’s not bad at all.  (Of course, we have had to purchase more yarn for this over the months, but I’ve only added a skein or two at a time.)

Here are some more detailed pics of the most recent section I was working on:

The first pic is a wide shot as it sits on the afghan, the second is more of a close-up, and the third is from the angle that I actually knitted them onto the piece.  I started with a row of five baby pink squares, then the next row of squares was variegated purple, then a row of variegated pink, then the solid gemstone purple, and capped it off with the strawberry pink square.

All right.  I made a reference to an “announcement” in the title of this post, and I will string you along no longer.

The announcement is:

There will be a wedding in the somewhat near future.  No, not mine.

My brother and his girlfriend got engaged this week!

I found out the news when she sent a picture of her engagement ring to my dad’s phone on Wednesday night (although my dad had already gone to bed by then), followed by a simple text saying “We got engaged” about 15 minutes later.  I’m not expecting them to set a date just yet, so no word on any wedding plans for the time being.  Although I must say that I have been privately calling her my “sister-in-law” for some time now.  It’ll be nice for them to finally make it legal, and I’m very happy for them.

Until next time…have a great day!

Local

Local

Locus.  Locality.  Location.  Location, location, location.  Local.  We all know what the word “local” means when we look it up in a dictionary: Adjective.  Referring to something nearby.  But what does “local” mean to each and every one of us?  I cannot speak for the other billions of human beings on this planet, but I can speak for myself.

I prefer not to share my exact location online, but any of you who follow my dear friend The Lady Bryan on here know that she used to live in Florida for several years, and the town that I live in neighbors both of the towns that she used to live in.  I live within driving distance of both Daytona Beach and Orlando and we can get to either location in an hour or less.

My town is a bit peculiar for what one would expect of a Southern town.  For one, it’s not a small town.  At least, not by stereotypical standards.  Our population is in the five figures, home to at least 10,000 people.  I’ve lived in this town for nearly 30 years (my family moved here when I was about 5 months old, well before my brother was born), and in those 30 years, I’ve seen my town evolve from a somewhat sleepy little place to a hustling, bustling, busy suburb.  I remember when the stretch of road that connects my town to the two nestled next to it had more trees than restaurants lining it.  My town’s side of that road is filled today with all sorts of chain eateries, gas stations, doctor’s offices, stores and boutiques, and a hospital where a vast stretch of Florida scrub once was.  I remember when the area where the local high school now stands was once a dense collection of sand, pine trees, and “secret” forts that the neighborhood kids would build.  My neighborhood itself has changed very little.  My neighborhood has always been a very hilly place, ranch-style houses lining the terrain around every peak and every dip.  Walking around this neighborhood certainly will give one’s legs a workout, better than any inclining treadmill could give you. 

I’ve always been a bit wary of many of my neighbors, possibly a consequence of my own overly cautious personality, but the ones I’ve managed to get to know are some of the nicest people you’ll meet.  A sweet Latino family lives just around the corner from us, our backyards adjacent to each other.  The guy just across the street from us is a single father doing his very best to raise his youngest child right, and he knows he has challenges ahead of him because his little girl has just become a teenager.  He divorced his little girl’s mother years ago, and sadly his little girl’s mother has since passed away.  His little girl, or as my mother likes to call her, “Little Bit”, is an incredibly outgoing, vivacious young lady of thirteen who loves to dance, tumble, and strike up a conversation with anyone and everyone, even if the “anyone” isn’t really feeling up to it.  Next door to the single father and his Little Bit, is a couple we’ve known for years.  We’ve watched their three boys grow up over the years.  I remember when the middle son, who was just a little over a year older than me, decided to marry his girlfriend before they even finished high school.  They had three children together, but their ending was not a happy one.  His wife, who I later learned had been afflicted with all sorts of health issues, died at the young age of 24, leaving my childhood friend a widower with three young kids before he turned 25.  He and his children moved in with his parents and his younger brother until he could get back on his feet and find a place of their own, which he eventually did.  The kids still come to visit their grandparents pretty often.   Across the street in the other direction is a retired couple with a lot of dogs.  The wife likes to garden and maintains a lovely looking set of plants in their front yard.  The husband usually can be seen tinkering with things, common with the men in my neck of the woods.  Before them, a gay couple lived there; we would sometimes see them at bingo, and they even gave me some crocheting supplies after seeing me crochet at a bingo night.  And before them, a couple with three kids around my age lived there.  I was friends with the oldest daughter, who was a grade behind me in school.  I remember being sad when she told me her family was moving to North Carolina when I was, I think, in third grade.  I sometimes wonder how that family is doing now.  Unfortunately I don’t have Facebook (and I have no cell phone to start one).  Our neighborhood is relatively quiet.  Of course, you also notice some of the more colorful characters: the rednecks living on one street near us, a Mexican-American family living around the corner on another, both of which announce their presence with the numerous cars that dot the front yards (I think I may have seen five different cars parked in the rednecks’ front yard at some point).  There’s another redneck man who can be seen walking his little Dachshund mix some mornings, which drives my own dog nuts even though he can’t come through her window.  Sometimes when we go walking, we can see him and his wife sitting in some armchairs set up in their garage with pedestal fans running, just watching the passers-by.  We even talk to him on occasion.

Local, for me, has so much more going for it than the places.  Any location can make it a place, but it doesn’t come alive until you get to know the characters that inhabit it.  And the memories you make as you inhabit it give that location meaning.  Local, for me, is an experience.  And the great thing is that no two people, even within the same family, will have the exact same experience.  Local is life, imagery, color.  That’s the difference between just a place and a home.

You Might Be a Floridian

Knitting on La vie en rose et violet is going pretty nicely.  I have gotten the both of the adjoining sides to the length that I want them at (18 small squares by 18 small squares), and now comes the tedious task of slowly filling in the rest of the blanket, piece by piece, until I have finally completed a giant square afghan.  I promise that I will share more pictures as more and more of the blanket is knit.

Today, though, is one of those random life posts.  I’ve had a pretty good last couple of days.  Friday, I got to see my niece, who is approaching 11 months and will be turning 1 in June.  She is currently at the stage where she can walk while holding on to things, but can only walk 3 or 4 steps unassisted before going back into a crawl.  She is also doing some simple baby talk, but has not spoken simple words yet.  I sincerely hope we are able to attend her first birthday party; it has been such a joy to watch her grow so much in her first year on this planet.

Yesterday, we went down to Orlando to meet up with my mom’s best friend from high school, her boyfriend, her daughter, and her daughter’s family.  Mom’s friend and company were getting ready to head back to New England after spending the winter in South Florida.  The parents and I had lunch at a restaurant on the property we went to (I don’t want to name the location as my dad works for one of this company’s competitors).  Mom and Dad had steak dishes, while I had seafood, including some shrimp and salmon.  We met up with mom’s friend and company at another restaurant they like to frequent when they come to this place, and we spent about an hour or so talking and laughing and enjoying each other’s company, but eventually came the time when mom’s friend had to get back on the road so that they could get back to New Hampshire; they were planning on stopping in Georgia for the night and heading on from there (and this is six people all heading in the same direction).  I hope they have a safe trip home, for sure.  The downside of all of this is that the temperature in Orlando was well over 90°F and shade at the place we went to was at a premium.  I ended up with a sunburn on my face, neck, and shoulders, although thankfully it was not a severe sunburn.  I’ll probably be just a little bit more on the pink side for the next few days.  We certainly were glad to get back into the air-conditioned pickup truck after all was said and done.

Our excursion to Orlando yesterday got me thinking.

I am a native Floridian, born in Orlando and raised not too far away from there.  I’d prefer not to share my exact location, but I was raised, and still live, in a somewhat small town within 50 miles north of Orlando.  Though both of my parents were born outside of Florida, both of them have lived here over 40 years (Dad came down as a kid in the late 1960s; Mom arrived after graduating from high school in the early 1970s).  I like to call them “naturalized Floridians”.  When you’ve lived in Florida for as long as we have, you kind of notice things.  Now, I know Florida gets a lot of flack from people (especially the rest of the South, who seemed to have disowned us from the rest of the region), but I’ve been here so long that I’ve grown to love the quirks of this place that I happened to be born into.  With that in mind, I would like to follow in the spirit of comedian Jeff Foxworthy, but instead of “You Might Be a Redneck”, I would like to call this…

“You Might Be a Floridian”

  • If you find yourself wearing flip-flops for 11 out of the 12 months of the year, you might be a Floridian.
  • If the very thought of wearing closed-toe shoes gives you blisters, you might be a Floridian.
  • If the grand prize on a game show is a trip to Florida, and you just say “meh”, you might be a Floridian.
  • If you find a temperature of 50°F downright cold, you might be a Floridian.
  • If you can remember when the local Macy’s used to be a Burdine’s, you might be a Floridian.
  • If you drive by the theme parks in Orlando and you just say “meh”, you might be a Floridian.
  • If you think The Golden Girls is a documentary, you might be a Floridian.
  • If you can tell a tourist by their wardrobe, you might be a Floridian.
  • If you attach your memories to a specific hurricane, you might be a Floridian.
  • If you think there are only two seasons in a given year — wet and dry — you might be a Floridian.

And finally:

  • If you refer to people from up North who move down here as snowbirds, you are definitely a Floridian.

I welcome any other suggestions from fellow Floridians, just post them in the comments for this post.

I hope you have a wonderful day!

 

The Rite of Spring

I will get to actual knitting in my next post, but I felt the need to write about this first.

Spring began in this part of the planet a couple of weeks ago.  Just four days after the 2017 vernal equinox, I turned 30.  Just a couple of weeks earlier, we were experiencing the last throes of a Florida winter, which is normally very dry and occasionally very cold.  Within two weeks of the beginning of spring, that last cold blast was a distant memory.  Spring has come in like a lion here: the live oaks and the maple trees (and yes, we do have maple trees in Florida) are beginning to don their leafy green coats; the sand pines that cover our landscape are dropping their old pine needles, pine cones, and even what can best be described as their stamens (structures that provide pollen to the pine cones); and the birds are singing and flying around in full force.  Male cardinals sing their songs in the hope of attracting a mate, and tiny chickadees remind us of their presences with their signature call that gives them their name.  Mockingbirds mob the crows that try to invade their nests in search of food, while turkey vultures and red-shouldered hawks glide through the azure skies for prey and carrion.  And on occasion, I will see a swallowtail kite in flight, its trademark forked tail immediately noticeable to my eye.  The grass is slowly starting to grow again after laying dormant for the winter, and it will not be long before the neighborhood lawn mowers awaken and hum their own loud songs.

As for us humans, we have long shed our winter coats and traded them in for tank tops, lighter fabrics, and even the occasional athleisure wear.  We watch the basketball and ice hockey seasons wind down, and baseball season finally begins anew.  Some families go to church on a Sunday, while others hunker down in their air-conditioned homes and prepare to watch that day’s NASCAR race in the hopes that their favorite driver will take home the checkered flag, be it for the first time or the umpteenth.  We let our furry companions out to enjoy the day’s rays of sunshine, while their owners either walk with them, or in my case find a place in the shade to sit and knit while watching my dog chase the tiny lizards around the front yard.  And I watch how her ears prick up in excitement, while her tail wiggles in curiosity and her snout pokes around in the scrub in search of those quick, elusive little lizards.

And I think and realize that this will be my niece’s first full spring on this planet, and how she’ll complete her first year as a living, breathing member of the human race as this spring, the one we are living in now, will blend into summer in a couple of months’ time.  I think of how she will soon be approaching this world with the curiosity and enthusiasm that almost all children her age do.  She will soon be able to speak and walk and express herself, and I can’t help but wonder if she’ll be as enthused by the wonders of spring as I am this year.  I have completed 30 revolutions around our Sun, and she will soon complete her first.  I wonder what her 30 revolutions will have in store for her, if she is lucky enough to make it that far.  Will she be happy?  Will she find amazing friends who stand by her and stand up for her?  Will she find something that she becomes incredibly passionate about?  Will she find love?  Will she be independent and successful?  We all face these questions throughout our lives.

I love the weather of a Florida winter, but I also love the brightness and the renewal of a Florida spring.