I enjoy not having a tapeworm. (Granted, I would spend a lot less of my life grunting on a spin bike if I had a tapeworm, but I’m told there are some unpleasant side effects that aren’t worth the calorie burn.) I also enjoy not being royalty, in no small part because I really like wearing bright colors and I’m pretty sure Kate Middleton isn’t allowed to do that anymore. Anyway, what I’m getting at here is that you’ll never find me using the royal “we.”
At a certain age—26, maybe; 29 if you got a particularly harrowing graduate degree; 19 if you’re Mormon and you want to find out if sex is really as hard on furniture as it is in Twilight—people start to use a new pronoun. Suddenly, where once you were “I,” you become “we.”
We. “We went to Green Pig last week. We had the short ribs.” “We can’t do brunch this weekend. We have a wedding to go to.” “We bought a Dyson. It’s amazing.” You, who were for so long a singular entity, are now part of an amorphous two-headed blob that will at some point probably grow to include a dog and maybe some babies. You’ve been subsumed. You aren’t a whole person any longer; when your other half is away, you have to replace them, you can’t face a night alone on the couch with only your television and your mind for company.
I can’t envision myself as a “we.” For 24 years, I’ve been a me, a singular entity who does most everything by herself. I live alone, I see movies alone, I dine at restaurants alone. I thrive alone. I contemplate the mold in my shower alone. This is unusual for a 24-year-old in the circles I run in; I am an outlier. Most of my friends and peers have coupled off, or at the very least, they live in a city where they know scads of people and they always have someone to call for brunch or dinner or a drink. Me? I go to Meetups and talk to strangers. I go to ballet class on Friday nights. I set routines and follow them slavishly and only my whims can disrupt them.
When I’ve done some normal activity with company, like going to dinner or to a movie to to a show, I revel in the feeling of using “we.” “We went to Kapnos last night. We had the charred octopus.” (By the way, go to Kapnos. Have the charred octopus. Holy crap.) It’s so refreshingly normal! I’m just like everyone else! I do social things in the company of others! The truth? I can only handle a “we” for so long. My closest friends know this, and they aren’t offended when after spending hours with them, I leave to go spend an equivalent number of hours with myself.
The prospect of losing the reliable pleasure of my own company is what scares me about coupling and marriage. I’m certain that I would stop relishing “we” if I had to use it to describe my every activity. I’ve decided—and perhaps 24 is too early to make this decision, but tell that to my ten million friends who have gotten engaged within the past few months—that I want to hold onto my “me.” It’s not that I don’t want to get married, per se, because I certainly want to give my friends a party with an open bar and listen to them tell me how beautiful I look in an expensive dress that’s supposed to indicate that every bad decision over the past six years of my life didn’t happen. Rather, I’d like to get married in a way that doesn’t force me to sacrifice my “me.”
I don’t want to be totally alone. I like the idea of falling in love with someone and I think it would be comforting to believe that whoever that is is the best person I could possibly fall in love with all the world over. But I can’t fathom the idea that to do this is to incorporate another person into my life full-time. Maybe I’m just self-centered or maybe I have too many thoughts crowding my head to even consider adding another person’s well-being to the mix.
Can I do something different? Is that allowed? Can I ask the world to let me buy a vacuum cleaner on my own or even to accept that I might want to live by myself some of the time? Is my other half somewhere on their couch wondering these same questions and feeling vaguely nauseous at the idea that they might have to choose between love and their own identity? I’d like to travel on my own and dine at restaurants with a novel instead of a boyfriend, but I’d also like the security of knowing that someone wants to spend more time with me than with anyone else. I’d like to have my cake and eat it too.
Come at me, boys. But only if I’ve explicitly invited you over, because if I haven’t, it’s quite likely that I’ve made a hot date with a stack of week-old newspapers and a plastic dish of homestyle tofu from the Chinese restaurant down the block.