The myth of the three in one
Alone in December 1996 in a foreign country, I drowned in that awful sensation of feeling sorry for myself. I was single, paid by an international company to relocate in my new job, living in a new top-floor loft apartment with a rented upright piano, driving a red convertible sports car, and having too much free time and disposable income.
The Christmas card from a friend I've known since I was four years old arrived to compound my misery. The professionally manicured photograph of the perfect family portrayed a dual career husband-wife team with a son and a daughter smiling contentedly at the camera. I didn't bother to reply to my friend with whom I rarely corresponded since high school. I had nothing to report and nothing to show off.
Years later I discovered that she wasn't showing off. She merely wanted to share her life and reconnect with me.
Over the years I heard of her affluent life juggling her managerial job with the demands of growing children and all those things that glowed of the perfect family. Meanwhile I had bought my own piano and a house to fit around it, disposed of my car and replaced it with two mountain bikes, and resigned to reading books like "Women Living Single" and "How to be your own dating service."
I concluded recently, having reached my self-imposed sell-by date, that I was nowhere near my ideal of the "three in one." In my toastmasters speech about the "three in one" I had shared my vision of happy and successful modern women: "...she needs to be three things: a wife, a mother, and a career woman."
It's August 2004. I receive an e-mail from a mutual friend. "She filed for divorce in June. It's amicable, but she has already bought a home and moved into it. She didn't tell me until after she'd made the decision to file and close on the house. I was shocked at first, but when I thought it over, it didn't surprise me. They married too young. Both nice people. Thought you might want to know."
What happened? Wasn't she happy being a wife, mother, and career woman? What more could she want? Have I been fooled to believe that the ideal of the three in one does not exist? Or has modern living taken its toll?
Perhaps it's not so bad being single, having no kids or responsibility, and trying to declutter and become a minimalist so that I can be even more free and single.
25 August 2004 Wednesday