In a turn of events that my friends have proclaimed to be “inevitable”, I recently found myself on a date with a much older man. While we won’t yet dwell on the pros and cons of dating somebody who was wrapping up high school while I was still in the Teletubbies stage, I will definitely attribute this as being one of the more interesting dates I’ve had in awhile, as evidenced in the following tidbit of our conversation alone.
Over a tea at Café de la Poste (neither of us were drinking, myself for cleansing purposes, him for unknown elderly purposes), he gave me a brief autobiographical overview of the past 20+ years of his life. After an unsuccessful stint with marriage, he had gone through a series of long-term girlfriends, and was now happily célibataire (single), enjoying a fulfilling existence of creative friends, athletic endeavors, explorative travel, and a newfound interests in astrology. Hearing my age – 28 – he exclaimed, not without a dose of sarcasm: “Oh yes, that within the age that I actually have a real interest in women – 28 to 33. The 23-year-olds are starting to feel a bit immature.” If I wasn’t sure before, then it was crystal clear now – I was dealing with a real, certified Eternal Bachelor. No longer capable of containing myself, I made a backhanded comment about all-too-afmiliar with “his type”, leading to me pulling up the article for us to analyze together. The parallels being endless, we had a good laugh.
“Ah, you like categories. Well, don’t you think you may fall into a category as well?” – he countered back. Now this was a first – nobody had categorized me quite yet. (I’m not sure if “crazy bitch” counts) Terrified yet curious, I requested that he identify said category that I so seamlessly fall into.
“Let’s see. You are 28, which means that you are in your late 20s, quickly nearing your 30s. Which is fine, except for there is this little voice living in your head. Every day, this little voice reminds you that you’re not getting any younger, that the clock ticking, and all your friends are getting married and maybe even having babies, and you are still single. The little voice becomes particularly tenacious when you are alone, up until the point where it gets unbearable, ringing in your head, on the verge of a nuclear explosion. And so, you go out, and you drown it out with alcohol, and you meet new people, and you go dancing until 5am, and then the voice finally disappears and you feel great. But then, the party is over, and you are alone again, and the little voice is back, stronger than ever before.”
While his diagnosis was not 100% on point (for one, I am not that big on 5am extravaganzas), he wasn’t that far off. There definitely is a little voice, a new friend I acquired, like a child acquires an imaginary friend, around the age of 26, when all my friends started hopping under the altar in an endless parade of Vera Wang. The voice was temporarily drowned out when I moved to Paris and completely changed my environment, but it has since reemerged and is now as strong as ever. Not only does it like to remind me that I am way behind on the marriage and procreation timeline instilled upon me by my Russian culture, it also frequently comments on the progression of my career, which leave something to be desired. While we have learned to coexist together and have semi-compromised on a rational timeline for a successful future, the truth is that the little voice is worried, and so am I.
While this may all sound like the loony ramblings of somebody on the possible verge of schizophrenia, I am mildly certain that many women can relate. (Can you?! Tell me! Reassure me!) What is interesting, however, is that I can vouch for the fact that few of them are French or European. One thing that I have enjoyed – and have used as a giant security shield – about living in Europe, is that there seems to be very little pressure for women to reach certain life milestones by a certain age. French women, in particular, don’t really seem to be at all daunted by the passage of time, as majority of them appear to be perfectly content floating from one “belle histoire” (“beautiful story”) to another, and dating for years, without the slightest hope of an impending proposal. While this may be an unhealthy extreme within of itself, it is without a doubt that they are doing something right, for they are globally admired for their beauty and charm and sex appeal, not to mention their ability to age gracefully and become more attractive over the years.
That said, perhaps, if we each simply have a discussion with our little voices, and define a new arbitrary timeline, which actually takes into consideration our individual histories, personalities, and life ambitions, and then mutually agree to take a chill pill and let life take its course, we may have a much easier time coexisting with em’ trippy little demons that reside in our heads.