I fell in love. I was five years old. I named him Bona, after Tatay Boni who raised his mom. Bona is a cat. We got a ginger cat and named him Kitty.I was seven years old when my paternal uncle told me you love cats so much you would get old alone. Grumpy and alone. Fat, grumpy, and alone.
I am 32. Single. Chubby, laughter-loving, unapologetically bitchy, and alone but far from being lonely. And yes, with four cats named Fuente, Hiphip, Laag, and Angkla. They all live with my parents in Cebu. I have to send money for their cat food, which is double the price of a sack of rice.
How is it to be 32 and single?
For me to answer that, let me start with the rituals of my daily life.
These days, I sometimes wake up at 5 in the morning when I don’t have any tinge of alcohol the night before. I sometimes wake up at 2 in the afternoon after a night and early morning of beer-drinking with friends and strangers. If I stayed out until six in the morning it means the conversation is so beautiful and intellectual that I wouldn’t want to miss anything.
When I wake up at 5, I instantly work for an hour and then go for an hour-long brisk-walking at the nearby park. On my way back home, I drop by at the local market for some fresh flowers, fruits, or anything I need in the kitchen. I clean my tiny yet cozy one-bedroom apartment every day. I can’t work when there is a mess in a periphery. To be more blunt about it, I want to avoid work as long as I can, so I always find something else to do: shit, the plants need watering; the floor needs sweeping (one of the woes of having long hair), I feel like eating something new today and start ravaging the fridge for an experimental recipe.
And perhaps for some, this sounds boring and ordinary. But the joy of having your own place where you can prance around naked is almost unexplainable. That silence, that freedom that comes after when the last guest leaves after hours of drinks, banter, laughter, and food. The joy of knowing exactly what you want and achieve in this life is comforting. I want to write and read. Grow a garden and a forest. Have my own tiny house, library, and two dogs and four cats.
I can’t live with others. I can barely stand my own hair on the floor. I hate dishwashing, but I abhor a messy kitchen. I don’t want to deal with people who leave clothes where they remove them. I know where I put my things and I don’t have any problem looking for them when I live alone.
I love the space I created for myself in Ha Noi. And you may ask, don’t you miss waking up next to someone?
As of now, no, I don’t. I do bring a man at my place once or twice a month. At 32 and with the age of Tinder, Bumble, and whatever, the choices are too many. But I’m rather picky. I’m a sapiosexual, yes. But my body has its own mind. And I respect that. When I find a man my own mind and body want, I know I got my man of the night, which can extend for a week. The longest lasted for two months. And I was in the verge of falling. And I’m not ready for that. So I stopped it. And yes, my man of the night stays over for the entire night, but you know you’re not in love when you actually have a hard time sleeping next to someone you barely know.
Being 32 and single, raised in a hypocritical, Catholic, conservative Filipino family and society, it can take a toll on you. But not in my case. I started questioning norms and superstitions quite early. I started clipping my nails at night when I was 7. I swept the floor at night. All these small illogical rules adults feed the kids.
When T and I broke up and I broke the news to the family, they were not even surprised at all. Perhaps because they didn’t even meet him in person at all. Girls, don’t introduce a man to your family if you don’t want to be pressured. I just introduced one to them, and he was my first boyfriend. I was young, naïve, and madly in love.
I rarely bring a guy home I picked up in a bar. It only happened once. And while I didn’t consider it a mistake, I don’t see myself doing it again. It’s just not my thing. I love having conversations on life before introducing a man to my lovely bed. Bed, meet my man of the night. MOTN, meet, Bed. 😛
But when I fall, I fall hard. But not to the point of forgetting my being and my ways. I’m the kind of lover who can dedicate a whole poetry collection to someone dear.
D whom I had an intense weekend affair could not understand why a woman like me: independent, smart, fierce, domesticated as fuck—is single. And I told him that the very qualities he mentioned are the very reasons long-term relationships are not for me, the very reasons men can’t stand me.
And he said, you just need a cool man.
And I hope he’s right. Being 32 and single, I do want to have my own kids. I don’t necessarily believe in marriage unless it has something to do with legalities (insurance and what-not). But I don’t mind getting old alone, self-sufficient, and warm either. And I still hope the cool man is somewhere out there inching his way towards me. Better yet, we can always meet half-way. 😛
N said some get into a relationship to complete themselves. And I agree, and I told him, nah it doesn’t work for me. I’m a self-made human. I don’t need someone to complete me. That’s the job of the self: to be whole in its own, on its own. And expect anything less from my partner.
But I still believe in love. I’m a poet after all. I still believe in the possibility of meeting the love of my life. But you love someone because you love. Not because you need someone to complete you, to make you happy. I only had two serious relationships. I have countless affairs.
Being 32 and single, I’m rather happy and contented with the life I created for myself.
And to echo the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (I’m almost done with Half of the Yellow Sun), “You must never behave as if your life belongs to a man. Do you hear me? Your life belongs to you and you alone.”
Yes, your life, your completeness, your happiness is your own choice. Not someone else’s.