I had a birthday recently, days like that make you reflective as hell and I dove right into those thoughts. I’m getting older, shifting into those legacy making years where everyone is getting married and pregnant. It’s hard to be in limbo, as much as I love my independence.
I pulled up old pictures of exes, pets, baby photos and checked on old friends. Technology is creepy like that.
My most recent ex is a breakup that took a long time to get over, I loved him hard like I usually do. We had a dog together and though our relationship was flawed with his grumpy dysfunction and my emotional neediness, that puppy created shared memories that are honey sweet.
There’s something concrete about making a decision to share the responsibility of caring for a little thing. Barney was that for us, a solid bond. Needs to be said, this wasn’t the first dog I lost to a failed relationship.
Gaius was another ex’s pup who I also fell hard for. He died recently, Gaius, not my ex. Cruel, but wouldn’t care if it was the latter. Here’s hoping I get to that level of indifference with the latest romantic casualty.
Losing Barney was like losing a child I only saw on weekends, it’s a weird feeling of incompleteness, I wasn’t finished figuring him out. I had plans for his training and his development, we were going to share him with my ex’s amazing parents. I was looking forward to taking this challenge on. Plus, he was out of his teething phase and had stopped biting the hell out of me. I could finally enjoy him in his gangly adolescence.
Peppered within these moments was me fighting to keep my relationship afloat with, let’s face it, someone who didn’t really want to be with me. I didn’t handle that fact the way I should have. He showed his frustration in ways that were at times, very mean. But Barney was always there, to soften the awful pain of rejection. Just as Gaius had.
I don’t know why I have better relationships with animals than with the men that own them.
These musings were all in my head during my birthday week, I bounced between gratitude for the life I do have and wondering about the lives I could have had. In the midst of this juxtaposition I went to a play at the Barbican with a friend, it didn’t make it easier that the play was about a woman struggling with having kids.
I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which means my ovaries don’t work very well, procreating is going to be a problem for me. Just how it is.
This one woman show featured an awesome actress in really nice high-waisted trousers reciting an eighty minute monologue. Frankly, she took the audience through a journey of fertility torture. Props crumbled, children lurked in the shadows, there was a blizzard…Jesus is this a representation of her womb? Is that my womb? I thought. God, being a woman can suck.
It was powerful but by the end, my friend and I looked at each other in horror. We realised that despite being single, successful and career-driven women, there is in fact a clock in our midsections. Like the crocodile from Peter Pan, it’s ticking suddenly became much louder.
I’ve reached the point in my birthday epiphany where I’m looking around and realising there is no unit to come home to. No legacies being made. Just Alexa, and I hate her. She doesn’t understand my accent. My dad is even researching London-based activities for me to partake in, get me out there. Everyone is hearing the clock.
I think he’s secretly worried I’m going to turn into my forever single Auntie Jeanne. I don’t think spinster is a genetic trait…I hope not.
Fact is, over the last decade or so, there have been a few incarnations of togetherness that I have opened the door to, but like I said, they’re gone now. No Barney, no Gaius and no men glaring at me from across a room.
Just fucking Alexa, and at one point a cat I mistakenly kidnapped from a neighbour. Edgar the cat is back home and he’s fine in case anyone was worried.
What I’m really trying to say, is that birthdays are not fun anymore.