I got married 18 years ago yesterday. Through some odd twist of fate in the Skagit County Clerk’s office, I was granted a divorce exactly 10 years to the day later. In the time since, I’ve literally flown around the world looking for that special someone. The only person I’ve found is myself. I’m pretty happy with her.
My dad doesn’t believe me. He called a while back, telling me how he prays every day that God will bring a man into my life. I told him not to pray for a man. If he’s going to pray for anything, pray that I’ll be happy, that an editor from a travel magazine will call and offer me a job. There was a quiet sigh on the other end of the line. I’m sure he’s still back in Minnesota praying for my future second husband.
When I pitched my Ireland memoir to a literary agent last summer, she asked me, “So, did you end up with the man?”
I replied, “Do you see a ring on this finger?”
She said, “People want happy endings. They want to escape their lives and imagine a better one.”
“Well, those aren’t my readers.” And, I thought, you’re not the right agent.
Does happily ever after mean you must end up with someone? I think every man and woman should spend some time alone before answering that question. Not a week. Not a summer. You need enough good, quality time with yourself to fall in love with your life. Your life. Not someone else’s. Know that you can actually take care of yourself if you have to, that you can have fun on your own, that you can walk into a restaurant at a table set for two and not grow red with embarrassment when the server removes the second setting. Keep embarrassing yourself until you don’t give a shit about saying, “One for dinner please.”
Yesterday evening, I tossed my new camera in the passenger seat of my car. (I call him Nathaniel George, or Nat Geo for short.) As I drove around looking for a place to capture the sunset with Nat, I thought – I have a good life. Today I’m Bellingham, Washington. In a month I’ll be Ireland. If I meet a man, fine. If not, that’s okay too. All that really matters is that I’m traveling the world with my camera, and that’s cool to me. That’s my dream.
Happily ever after can mean whatever you want it to mean.