Ok - it took me about 6 months to post this and even as I schedule this post to go live - I wonder if this is the best decision (on a blog that is filled with mostly the vain things I like), but here goes ...
I was having a conversation with a few of my girlfriends and their story (and in some cases lament) sounded oh so familiar because I was hearing the same things from "well-meaning" friends and family and this is the summary of what we are hearing
"at your age (which for us ranges from 25 to 32) - you cannot be picky, if a guy is interested in you - then why not."
One of the personal conversations I have had goes something like this
"what are you waiting on ? A perfect man ? There are no perfect men" - That threw me for a loop - not the "there are no perfect man" piece (beacause non of us is perfect), but more the idea behind the thought. Which I have come to realize is coded words that translate --- "since there are no perfect men - why not settle". That conversation (and there have been a few) drives me up a wall more than any of the pity prayers they pray when someone I know (especially those younger than me) announce their engagement.
Personally, I don't care for settling (in anything) and I try not to settle - the few times I settled, have been filled with misery and I got out of the situation very quickly, so to think of settling in marriage (especially when divorce is not an option I consider for myself), does not work for me.
There are days (very off days) when I have an internal battle of "sure, why not just settle ?" You are borderline at that age and soon you will tip over to the other side of the age scale." In those moments, I think - I can learn to love a guy I settle for - I am a resilience person and will all the lemonades life's handed me asking me to make orange juice (I have truimped) - so why not settle with a guy just because he is interested. Knowing my personality , I can make it work (I will make it work) , but then I take a step back and remember that it is not in my nature, characte, DNA or upbringing to settle.
The other day - I began to wonder about some of my married friends who seem to want to push me to settle - I wonder if they settled at some point which is why its easy for them to ask and encourage me to settle. I want to pose the question to one of them , but I worry that might open a door that can never be closed - so I bite my tongue and let her vent to me about her marriage at our monthly cupcakes and grown up drinks sessh.
I also looked at the marriage of the camp of friends and family that chant - "why not settle" and what I notice is this. They fell in love, but they never grew or stayed in love. These folks all seem to be going through the motions in their marriage; little challenges of life have seperated them, what hurt (even for a short time) has turned them into stranger - so I see married folks living like roomies. Always talking about what could have been with that high school or college relationship and they seem to be enduring their marriage. They are hardly comfortable around each other.
Then the other camp of people who say - "don't you dare settle" - I see in their marriages one of the points I think Mali music was getting at in the song "heavy love" . Heavy love was not about two perfect people that have come together - but two imperfect people who have found love inspite of their individual imperfection; two imperfect people who have hung in there (even in the hurting and trying times); they have been through wilderness seasons together, but the wilderness seasons have brought them closer not pulled them apart ; they have faced the unimaginable , but even those "this thing may take us under" moments seem to make their relationship stonger. I think they were able to get through and be closer than ever because they made the decision at some point not to settle (and it was one of those people that said to me "don't you dare settle" and although she did not analogize it as I have done - her strange and hilarious summation of why I should not settle made a lot of sense and this was her argument (almost verbatum)
"if you settle, you better make sure he is loaded because that will be the only thing that will bring a little happiness (she emphasized the "little happiness" part), but if you hold out for the real thing (aka heavy love) even if you are both without jobs and eating one meal a day to barely keep afloat - even those days you will be worth it and you will remember with fondness because of the love"
That second part is her story (and my parent's story). That even in the painful, "we only have enough for one of us to eat / life's given us lemons to make OJ" seasons, I see a love that has grown for 20 years for her and 31 years for my folks and even after so many years together that love still exists in the silent glances across the room they share and the way their silences are filled and loaded with words that only they hear. I see in them heavy love.
I am encouraged by that (and by the heavy love) - not to settle because, I don't want a marriage I endure (no sir, no), I don't want to look back in 20 years and wonder what could have / should have been - I want heavy love. That 25 , 30 , 40 years later is stronger and truer. I want words communicated in silence glance. I want heavy love, so I hold out for it and with this brief detour from beauty/fashion/food talk - I want to encourage you to hold out for it too. Don't settle, don't you dare settle.