Yet I am not. And I chalk it all up to masquerades and barricades.
A couple of months ago I walked up on my grandfather as he was catching up with a distant relative whom he had not seen in years. “I have three grandchildren,” he was telling her. “And three great grandchildren.”
“This is my granddaughter,” he continued, catching sight of me. “She doesn’t have a husband, no kids. She’s just working and making money. And she ain’t thinking about nobody.”
I laughed. Knowing my grandfather as I do, I knew he meant this as a compliment. Independent, (relatively) young woman doing (relatively) well for herself. Going where she wants, doing as she chooses. No husband or child to tie her down. As I have often heard from others, “living the good life.”
I was not offended by his comments. I was, however, curious of the certainty with which he said them. “She ain’t thinking about nobody.” As if I not only desired to be husband-free and childless at present, but would like to remain that way for the foreseeable future. Not imagining, contemplating, or considering a family. Just as sure as he was that my name is Sheryl, he knew that I wasn’t even thinking about anyone.
But I am. Far more often than I let on. Sometimes the thoughts of ‘if’ and ‘when’ are but a whisper, other times they are a deafening roar. In fact, I rarely blog about love these days for fear of thinking out loud. I try to manage my heart so that I carefully maintain the perfect balance of contentedly single and eager for love, but on any given day, the scales tip in one side’s favor.
What is particularly funny is that I distinctly recall my grandfather asking me about my single status on a few occasions over the years. Once he inquired about men trying to get to know me, curious as to whether I paid them any mind. Another time he thought it might be difficult for a man to feel as if he had anything to offer me, a woman who seemed to have already acquired so much. Yet another time he wondered whether I felt lonely living as a single woman. He was never overbearing, never worried; he just needed reassurance of my emotional well-being.
I suppose my responses to his inquiries were convincing, because somehow we evolved from patient questioning to the decision that I’m not even thinking about anyone. I guess my positivity has abated any concerns. My evasion of questions to which I do not have answers gives the impression that I am unbothered. My ever-shrugging shoulders are presumed the behavior of one who is not clueless, but does not even care.
My grandfather is not alone. There have been numerous instances over the years in which people have either implied or directly stated that I did not want marriage or children anytime soon. There are others who act as if I am some bionic person who does not need love and intimacy, and therefore can handle the challenges of singlehood better than them. Apparently my determination not to appear desperate for love has given people (or at least those who do not read the blog) the impression that I don’t need love at all.
But it is all a masquerade. Beneath the mask is a woman who cares. A woman who thinks about a husband and children. A woman who suspects she’s supposed to be in love by now.
So why aren’t I – in love?
According to Rumi, “your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
I have spent the last couple of years seeking. And I have found. Barrier upon barrier. Some I knew about, others smacked me upside the head out of the blue. Barriers like pretending not to care. Barriers like pretending not to notice who’s noticing me. Barriers like running myself ragged in order to keep the thoughts at bay. Barriers like negative assumptions and unrealistic expectations. Small barriers like being stingy with my smile, large barriers like refusing to let go of the past. Barriers that not only keep men out, but trap me in.
But I have been deconstructing the barricades and ending the masquerades. Each day, more of my authentic self is making its way out into the open. Because I’m supposed to be in love by now.
SheryLeigh is a woman who loves God, words, and people. She is currently living and loving as an author, blogger, poet, and spoken word artist in the Washington, D.C., area.
A communicator by education and trade, SheryLeigh holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from Howard University and a Master of Arts in Management from Webster University.