N.B. I’m maybe the last sucker with an iPhone 4, so this is going to be a bunch of shitty pictures. But whatever.
I didn’t really think about this last waylay in San Francisco in terms of the last time I’d been there. Definitely didn’t pause to do many then v. now comparisons—odd, given my proclivity toward rampant reflection. But when you find yourself saying, “Been about… yea, just over 5 years. Since the honeymoon,” and people go bananas—it’s your anniversary?!—and it’s not actually your wedding anniversary, it becomes an anniversary for a lot of other things.
The honeymoon, yes.
The first time I ever got laid off… the day I got back from the honeymoon.
The impetus to start this blog.
And I think, “Dear God, I was a child.”
[And some things never change.]
The nature of this trip was two-fold. We were stopping for a few days to catch our breath before a trip to Hawaii, and I was stopping to finally, finally get face time meeting the amazing people I’ve been working with the last year. With so much keeping me busy on the front end, I didn’t really even designate much significance to the trip. It wasn’t until the end that I saw some sort of parallel.
Without airing out all my dirty undies here or passive aggressively taking anyone to task, I’ll say that a dinner conversation made me aware of this Op/Ed from the WSJ. I hadn’t read it yet. I eventually read it, and it was pretty benign. Getting married young, it says, is a key to happiness. It’s the start-up marriage, not the merger marriage. (This is the WSJ, after all.)
Totally fine. For all intents and purposes, I got married at age 16. I knew literally nothing. Ok, article, you made your point.
[Hey, wine time! This is a lot less scary than it looks. If you’re headed to SF, might I suggest the Hotel Drisco up in Pac Heights? Nicest people in the world, epic setting, fabulous digs.]
There was this, uhm—I never thought about phrasing this any way other than bum, which isn’t too original, but anyway—groovy bum (?) ambling through the Tenderloin when we were walking back to the hotel one afternoon. He amiably engaged a passerby: “Hey, man.” The guy sort of opted out of acknowledging the greeting and kept walking. The bum spun on a dime.
“HEY MAN YOU GOT A QUARTER ON YO BITCH ASS?” which of course was fantastic to witness. But that bum really went from 0-60. And I have a problem with going 0-60. It’s just bad form.
[Last time I had this view, or one similar to it, I was about to fly home and lose my damned job. Ain’t no thang.]
All in all, my return to Ithaca, were we to assign San Fran with the identity of the birthplace of a new narrative for me, I’d say I was coming back a champion. And I’m not even a legit feminist.
My 30s have been immeasurably better than both the other decades combined. A funny thing happens to a woman when she’s thirty—at least it did to me. I woke up. It was like I took a deep breath and saw everything fresh. I felt totally free. I can’t speak for my friends who don’t work and have multiple kids—they’re on a different trajectory. Our Instagrams look very different. No criticism.
30 is the start of so much, even though some people want us to think it’s the end. It’s loving yourself, finally. Feeling super great in your own skin, which isn’t an empty platitude when you really know what it feels like. Freedom. Satisfaction. Getting to a point where you’ve worked enough jobs you didn’t like to work one you love. Respect where you don’t expect it. The patience to cultivate really meaningful friendships, and to begin returning favors to people who’ve been there for you when you were a twenty-something moron. A wide-open world that looks totally different—delicious, really. Financial independence. Confidence—to set and achieve goals. For some of us, those goals have nothing to do with children. At all. In fact, maybe kids even would get in the way of some of them.
Is this a heavy enough travel photo post yet?
A mirror picture, because I’m only human and this jacket is wicked awesome and completes my life:
This gets me back to the article, which doesn’t even really touch on kids. And the bum. Because the article was pitched to me in a certain way: getting married earlier is better than later; and where are your kids? Spoken aloud or inferred, that is 0-60.
Ok, the start-up is better. And even though I had nothing against either path, all of a sudden—whether or not you feel I’m failing by having not procreated yet at 33—I disagreed vehemently. All of sudden, I miraculously formed my own opinion against an op/ed, like I’d never even tried to poke a stick at that particular pile of poop before.
This piece was written by a man. Who couldn’t possibly begin to assign value to letting a woman find herself well into her thirties, and—this is important, because it’s my point—accomplish things with a certain set of pressures that, if she chooses, have nothing to do with getting married and having children. I have a lot of friends—ranging from 24 to 34—wondering why they’re not married yet. It stresses them out. And I agree they should want to get married, but for the love of God—it shouldn’t blot out every fantastic experience they’re having just by being a living, breathing, growing woman. It’s a crime.
Because, like it or not, once you get married, people are going to (not so) subtly tell you that you should have kids. If you’ve got no other goals, fine. But if you’re like I am, you’re figuring out a whole other shitload of things, separate from that life-altering decision. If Mr. Murray was as interested in women being viable, valuable halves of marriages, he’d see that the start-up vs. merger argument is as empty as my womb.
It’s always going to be a start-up. You’ll just be a better investment.
I’ll always maintain giving advice—especially about marriage—is useless. This is not a one-size-fits-all world. We are not a uniform species. And women are certainly not a uniform group.
I’ll say one other thing, too: I will always feel that people—women and men alike—feel threatened by a woman who is unmarried and maybe doesn’t want kids. Maybe men like Mr. Murray just feel like young women are easier to squish into a mould if you grab ‘em young. That’s sad, because, while marriage and kids don’t make a woman less of a person, it implies that the opposite almost can’t be true. And while having kids and working a meaningful job aren’t mutually exclusive, they might be for some people. You gotta respect that.
Mr. Murray makes some sweet points. And clearly is no douche. Which I appreciate. But his article does give ammunition to a group of people who still think their way is the only way—marry young; have a baby young; get this show on the road. If you subscribe to that, I’m going to be living on borrowed time pretty soon. And I find that wildly unfair.
Instead, I’ll be grateful. SF, thank you for hosting me again. And showing me that I’m killing it. And am exactly where I want to be.
No kids and all.