A few years back, I saw a clip of the comedian Kevin Hart’s live performance in his Let Me Explain stand up show which he held at the Madison Square Garden in New York. Barring the language and the slapstick humor, it was mostly about relationships between him and his lovers or friends. There was a segment in the show that has stayed with me after all these years. He was talking about the single life and how it allowed him make decisions with his friends; they could go to the parties, they could hang out anytime they wanted, they could go to the club whenever they liked and do whatever they wanted with whomever they wanted. He did not realize what was missing out for him in the midst of all the fun he thought the single life was affording him until one night, when he was alone in the house and was bored and decided to call his friends so they could go somewhere fun to hang out. On that night, none of his friends were available because they were all out with their partners.
In his words,
“Yo, wassup boy? What do you want to do tonight?”
“Man, I ain’t doing nothing. It’s cupcake Tuesday. Me and my lady, we are making cupcakes. Red Velvet. I get to lick the bowl and everything.”
“Lick the bowl? Man, get off my phone!”
“Hey, don’t be mad at me because you ain’t got no bowl to lick!”
According to him, it is from experiences like that, when your friends are with their partners and you are all alone in your single life, with no one to talk to that you realize that maybe, just maybe, the single life is not what you have propped it up to be.
While I did not have such overly dramatic experiences as a single person like Mr. Hart supposedly had, I can understand his singleness struggle on a personal level too. In the single life, on the one hand, you have the license to make all the decisions to do the things you want to do. You can eat when you want, you can hang out with friends, you can travel, you can go on tours, you can join a campaign team, you can do right about everything the law allows you to do and there would be no problem because you really do not have anyone to explain your decisions to.
What exactly did the single life mean for me and how did I navigate its waters? These are thoughts I would be sharing with you readers in the first section of this post.
I had the advantage (yes, I would like to see it as an advantage) of starting early in life. After I dropped out from college, I got a job in a grocery store and after few months I got a job in an office in our Provincial Capitol in another village that made commuting ( from my place to work ) an economically foolish move. So, I requested to be assigned in my town. Not exactly what I would love it to be, but not bad either in any way. Until I’ve got the chance to work in our Municipal Hall. My life at this point was interesting as I could keep it. It was somewhere in between extremes. It was neither excessively interesting and fun-filled nor was it boring.
My regular weekdays were usually spent behind a computer screen executing unending vouchers, encoding and meetings. Unending in that there is always another task when you have completed one. That, of course, is the nature of all government offices; never-ending tasks and projects to handle. I am eternally grateful for that job because it made me become a more focused individual. At my workplace, every time, every minute is clocked for one productivity task or the other. No time has to be wasted.
On Friday nights, Sometimes I go to the club to hang out with my friends who live nearby, mostly friends from college. Then when I moved to Denmark to work as an Au pair, I thought by then that it was the place I could envision myself staying in. It was a turning point in my life wherein it feels like I was committed but not with a man but with my family. To be a provider, I’ve worked hard and gives whatever they want. Little did they know, I was broken inside. They didn’t hurt me. I was hurt because of the thought of settling down if I found my other half because I am not getting any younger. They are the other thing I would like to consider as an advantage for my single life –My family. In fact, I would like to call it my great good fortune. My father is a carpenter and my mother is a housewife with a small sari-sari store. These two, by living life the way they thought best to, showed me the value of family very early in life. And because of how they worked together to make our family work, they inspired me in no small way to aspire to have a beautiful family too. From them, I learned the value of adequate and effective communication between partners, a lesson that is currently proving invaluable in my relationship with my current partner. One great thing I would want to bring out from watching my parents while growing up as a child in our family is how much respect they showed to each other. Ever before I met my fiancé, I had decided within myself that for the two of us, it would be a relationship where there is as much love and trust as there is respect. Respect for each other would be a non-negotiable item on our list. Thankfully, in my partner, I found a man who shares this value with me among many other things. He respects my decisions, my cultures and beliefs. The day he proposed to me, I saw in his eyes, more than I have ever seen that this is the man who wanted to commit his entire life to me. Right inside our holiday home in Lisbon where he pulled the surprise (though I love him to eternity and back and I wanted to be with him so bad, I was still surprised he proposed to me that evening), kneeling and asking “will you marry me?” I knew what he was offering me meant everything.
From that evening, I began to realize what it meant to be committed to another person. I began to see that it was not an easy thing. I began, more than ever, to appreciate my parents’ commitment to each other. Some days, in my mind, I would go over the example I have – my parents – and realize how they have made it look too simple. And the reality is, committing yourself to another person (who is not you) is no mean feat. First, it requires a lot of unlearning.
You have to unlearn that you are absolutely in charge of your life and as such can make any decisions you want to. No. When you wear that ring on your finger, like I do, or you have given someone that ring to wear as a sign of wanting them in your life forever, you should carry the consciousness in you that your life is no longer entirely yours. Your decisions are no longer all of your own to make. You cannot just do anything just because you feel like. Know that commitment is in no way bondage or servitude, it is simply making allowance for the other person to know and be sure that they have an important place in your life. My fiancé does not tell me what to do or not to do, but, I hear the pleasure in his voice whenever I need to make an important decisions and I run it by him. I realize how much it means to him that I consider him important in my life enough to share my thoughts with him and ask him for his thoughts about it. We do not always agree with what he suggests, though, I must confess, he has really brilliant thoughts most times, because agreeing to one person’s suggestion is not the point. The point is that whatever we want to do, we do with the consciousness that we are learning to belong to each other and as such we realize that the big decisions either of us makes will affect the other person. Without needing to need him, he accords me the same courtesy of running his decisions by me.
Any time I am preparing to step out of my house, whether to work or play or wherever, and I slip my engagement ring on my finger, I am conscious of the decision I have made by accepting that ring. I am conscious that I have pledged myself to a man and that I intend to stand by my decision. That we are both preparing for the time when we will not have to say good night after most facetime dates, but we would be living in the same house, heading to the same bedroom, breathing in each other’s morning breath when we wake up beside each other every day for the rest of our lives. This thought gives me much joy as it fills me with mild trepidation. When the time comes for us to be together finally, I think about the many things that would change. Moving in, raising kids, going on trips together, spending time apart because of work, visiting loved ones, having loved ones over, etc. While these are interesting thoughts to imagine, there is also the part where we would be mad at each other, where we would offend each other, where we might even be tired of each other. These fill me with dread. But I have seen my parents go through these phases and it made them stronger. So, with my fiancé, when we begin to spend forever together. I look forward to growing together with him, learning how to work together, so that when life throws us lemons, we can make refreshing lemonades from them.