I’m nineteen and I’m wondering, not for the first time, why I’ve never been on a real date with an actual boy (because I don’t count dinner at a restaurant with my best friend’s cousin as a “real date”). I want to know why my life feels a little like a certain Drew Barrymore film that my sister and I used to love as kids. If I died tomorrow, in some sort of tragic accident, I’d have no idea what the feel of a boy’s lips on mine would taste like – I have no idea if I’d like it or not.
I’m nineteen and I’m enjoying the wedding ceremony of a good friend of mine. They say “I do” and my friend next to me whispers “I love how she looks at him”. Because she stares at him as if she’s never been happier, and after watching (and gossiping with her younger sister, my best friend, about) the countless failed relationships, that weren’t exactly unhappy or even serious, but more like a tool for her to dip her toes into the dating pool, I know that she probably hasn’t been.
Her older sister says in her speech “you once told me that you wanted to find someone that makes you as happy as my husband makes me, and now I know you have” and it occurs to me that I don’t even mind not feeling as happy as she does with her brand new husband.
A row in front of me I can see another, closer friend who has just gotten engaged to her boyfriend of four months – she’s only nineteen too. She leans into him as he slings an arm around her shoulder, and they keep catching each other’s eyes, and I guess they’re probably thinking of their own wedding service, which is happening three months to the day.
My mother always says over and over, and increasingly frequently: “Katie, what’s for you won’t go by you”, but I’m sitting shoulder to shoulder with my 34-year-old cousin, and I can’t help but wonder if her mother always told her that as well. Because it has, it must have, or why wouldn’t she be married already? And I get that some people just don’t want to get married (though I’m pretty sure that isn’t the case with my cousin), because sometimes I feel like I don’t want someone weighing me down for the rest of my life.
But the thing is: if you love them enough, they should help you float. So why I have I already reached a point where I would take a vague friendliness and twist it into something heartbreakingly romantic?
I’ve listened to talks by my church leaders that can be condensed down into: don’t wait, get married today! And I’ve seen the way almost everyone niggles at my cousin, at least once, about why she isn’t married yet (even I’m guilty of this). But worse is the way I can see what they really mean in their eyes, and I’m sure she’s noticed it enough that she lets it wash over her like it means nothing – what’s wrong with you that no boy has ever wanted to marry you.
Often when I complain to my mother about boys, or relationships, I feel like a flippant baby, one moment desperate and then next disgusted by the idea of a boyfriend (or even worse a husband, with a trail of children in tow).
I’m nineteen and I just want to know when my life will finally sort itself out, and I can stop dreaming about this intricate future I’ve mapped out in my head and start living it instead.