Iowa Writes

MICHELLE CANTWELL
Just Me


       I believe it is okay to be single.  Without a significant other.  Alone.  Table for one.  Solo.  Every time I run into someone I haven't seen for a while, the inevitable first question is "Are you seeing someone?"  Every invitation to a family gathering begins with "Will you be bringing anyone?"  Every girls' night gathering, book club meeting, first day back teaching echoes with the desperate cries of "You're still single?"
       In this overly marketed culture, with perfume ads not only selling fragrance but the knight riding up on his white horse, with radio spots for diamonds, romantic getaways, and dating services playing every five minutes, it is hard to believe anyone is unattached.  That it is okay to be single.

       I believe it is okay to be single.  Without a significant other.  Alone.  Table for one.  Solo.  Every time I run into someone I haven't seen for a while, the inevitable first question is "Are you seeing someone?"  Every invitation to a family gathering begins with "Will you be bringing anyone?"  Every girls' night gathering, book club meeting, first day back teaching echoes with the desperate cries of "You're still single?"
       In this overly marketed culture, with perfume ads not only selling fragrance but the knight riding up on his white horse, with radio spots for diamonds, romantic getaways, and dating services playing every five minutes, it is hard to believe anyone is unattached.  That it is okay to be single.
       I met Aimee in the 7th grade, and we have always viewed the idea of dating and love from opposite corners.  For her, it was as essential as oxygen to have a boyfriend, and in the 22 years I have known her I guestimate she has been single for about six months.  I on the other hand have only dated for about six months total during those same 22 years. 
       Recently, we had a "catch-up" lunch after she moved back into town, and over pizza and wine she dropped the bomb: "I don't think you will ever be happy until you get married."  My very clever response, "What", entitled me to the following advice:  "If you don't get married you will never know true happiness.  How can you know love, how can you know companionship, how can you be happy if you don't have anyone to share your life with.  It makes me sad knowing you are alone and miserable."  In the choked silence that followed, I had a realization. 
       I am single.  I am happy.  I have love from friends, family, pets, and myself.  I have laughter, hope, and freedom to do what I choose when I choose it.  I don't have to compromise with anyone on how I will spend my paycheck, where I will go on vacation, who will pick up the kids, or whose turn it is to do the laundry.  I know being married is right for many people, and our society celebrates this decision with weddings, anniversaries, Valentine's Day and love songs. 
       But I believe that deciding to be single should be equally celebrated, should be congratulated as the right choice.  I am single—I am not lacking, I am not destined for despair—I don't know what I am destined for, but I know it isn't divorce, it isn't joint burial plots, and it isn't "till death do us part." 
       I am single.  Without a significant other.  Alone.  Table for one.  Solo.  And so the answer to the question:  I'm seeing myself and it is the best relationship I have ever been in.

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


MICHELLE CANTWELL

Michelle Cantwell is an English teacher and aspiring writer.  She has attended the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and currently takes classes through Lighthouse Writers in Denver, Colorado.  She is currently working on a young adult novel, but poetry is her passion.

This page was first displayed
on February 13, 2014

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