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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Happily unmarried

Published: August 27, 2010
Section: Arts, Etc.

Unless you’re a serial dater or got married to your high school sweetheart, there comes a time in everyone’s life when they’re going to feel like the only single person in a world full of irritating happy couples whom you wish you could smack. Everywhere you turn people have paired off, and it feels like they’re heading for the ark of salvation while you’re drowning in the monsoon that is single life.

This experience has come particularly early for me. At 20, I’m one of about two dozen cousins between the ages of 18 and 30. At family events, like weddings, we would all sit at what we would call the cousins’ table. It was a fun time to bond, it made the wedding into the celebration it’s supposed to be rather than the excruciatingly awkward thing I recently attended.

My closest cousin got married in April. I was one of her bridesmaids, and everything was lovely untill the reception started and I found my seat. What used to be the cousins table no longer existed. Everyone had gotten married or entered a serious relationship and now there were several family tables with everyone paired off. I was alone at a full table that felt very empty.

I looked around at all the good-looking guys in there 20s in their various expensive suits sitting around the table and had a small panic attack at the realization that I was on my own miniature version of “The Bachelorette,” except all the guys were wearing yarmulkes. Thankfully the table was coincidentally placed directly next to the open bar.

Even my younger cousin had abandoned me for a date. How could this happen? I asked myself.

It felt as if everyone’s eyes were on this table, on me. While the liquid courage station was aiding me through the introductions with every young man at the table and the countless repeating of the same questions from every extended family member, “So how’s Brandeis … have you met any nice boys?” “What’s your major?” I would respond, “Brandeis is great, no I haven’t met anyone and Journalism.”

The shock on everyone’s faces was, to say the least, priceless. While it amused me, it also sent me into a whirlwind of emotions. I know they only ask because they care. They want the best for me, but that doesn’t make me any less angry with them for judging me. My family is very religious and while I love them and wish I could please them, I never have. They’re all under the assumption that I came to Brandeis to, yes, get an education, but firstly meet a nice boy and get married.

So the conversation would end with them saying, “Journalism, that’s tough, are your sure you want to do that? That’s not a good career for a nice girl like you. How are you going to have a family?” This is where I would sip my drink and say, “I’ll take that into consideration,” and then I would ask one of the boys at the table to dance with me. Which would also cause major shock to whoever was trying to inform me of my wrongdoing in choice of life path. Not only do nice girls not dance with boys that they’re not in a relationship with, especially at religious weddings, but they sure as heck don’t ask the boy to dance themselves.

As the evening was dying down, I sat on the stage and one of the nicer boys that had been sitting at the table sat down next to me and said, “Just tell them you have a boy you’re interested in and you’re going to be a writer, that sounds better.” I looked up shocked and said “Why? Why should I do that?” He said, “It’ll just make your life easier.”

I went back to my seat at the table, saw more family as they stood in line at the bar and went through the same old routine with them, refusing to make it easier. Yet, now I realized that yes, this is irritating, and yes, I sometimes wish I had someone that made me and my family happy, life doesn’t always follow a path and when you try to force it too you’re just settling.

My married cousins have all gotten married before 25 and they’re all reasonably happy, so it seems, but I’m not OK with reasonably happy or with doing something just because it’s expected of me. So I take the path less traveled by, so I given a hard time at family occasions. At least I take my path; at least I take control of my life.