Lately, I haven’t been writing as much as I want to. Since I moved, I’ve been spending my time unpacking, painting, and finding all the right things I need for my new/old home. I also go to the gym, hang out with my friends, work from 9 to 5, freelance after hours, and try to follow my favorite blogs, catch the news, and read at least a few pages of good fiction before bed.
It feels like I’m always busy. To maximize my time, I haven’t been cooking in my usual style. I buy the same few things from Seward co-op and cook simply, almost sparely, with no fanfare and rarely a picture taken. No dinnertime Tweets. No facebook updates again declaring my love for beets. Just the simple act of making myself something to eat.
The other thing I haven’t been doing lately is dating, which puts a cramp in my favorite habit — going to restaurants. As I describe in my tagline, I love writing about how the city, dating, and food come together in amusing ways. For the last two years, I filled many posts with my renderings of boy meets girl and they go out to eat. But somewhere in the middle of my extended experiment with sociability, something inside me shifted and I pretty much lost all interest.
Do I want to find someone to spend my time with? Of course I do. In so many ways, I think I’m meant to be in a relationship. But at this point, the possibility feels so remote, I can only look at other people’s relationships and marriages with “bemused incomprehension,” to use a phrase from Tim Kreider’s wonderful post at the New York Times. He calls marriage and parenthood “an entire dimension of human experience undetectable to [his] senses.” When I think about relationships, and dare I say marriage, I imagine a vast foreign country I may never get to visit, usually somewhere near Morocco, with beautiful, distant horizons, rare luxuries, exotic spices, roasted flatbreads, and a mutual love so sweet even the hardships are painfully romantic. But if I close my eyes, I can almost feel it.
In some ways, I’m not concerned about the sizing-up, reckoning-day thing Kreider calls “the referendum,” where the personal choices we make in life are discreetly judged by the people we know. If I were, I’d be actively hunting for my perfect partner and trying to build four happy walls around us both. I’d also be checking the dial on my biological clock and wondering why I seem to be immune to its ticking.
In other ways, the referendum has come to visit. Hell, it’s set up shop in my heart and I rarely think about anything else. For me, the referendum is about personal fulfillment and finding the resolve to confront a bewildering abstraction that lives right in the middle of my life. Some people find themselves through marriage and children. Some through buying a house or a condo. Some through making a dent in the corporate world. I’ve learned that I will fully become myself through the act of creativity. For me, before anything else, I’ll be satisfied once I find my personal expression and get it out there in the world.
I just need to figure out what that is. I see a manuscript, a menu, and some old table linens. Flowers flirt together in a small glass vase on the table. I’m writing and editing at my own desk and cooking in a big kitchen. There’s open windows and exposed brick. There’s also an exhilarating sense of freedom because I know that the life I’m jealously peering into is my own.