i am sure, that in our collective lives, we've filled out forms and have been forced to categorize one's self in a box meant to represent either a choice, one's status, or opinion about something. and to me, person who loves filling out all types of forms with a misplaced sense of giddiness, there's a thrill (or dread, as in the case of age) when one "moves" from one category to another.
income, for one, has been a sore spot in my life. so moving another tier up, that was a biggie! and age, sigh, if only i can still celebrate march 2 without gaining a year ... turning 36 means that i will be moving from the 30 - 35 range to one that is <--this--> close to 40. in the words of the characters in the archie comic book series (shucks, yet another affirmation of my "aged" status), EGAD!--this-->
but while i've moved from one category or another, there's one box that i can't seem to escape (even the religion boxes i've moved from "others" to "roman catholic"!) -- the "S" box. it comes just after you declare your age, an accusation of sorts, similar to relatives who you see once a year in holiday gatherings who look at you with unmasked pity in their eyes as they ask if you have a boyfriend or you've plans to get married and you reply with a "no". i'm a girl, so they'd remind me about my dwindling chances of becoming a mother, with the more modern one's urging, pabuntis ka na lang, as if sex were as easy and uncomplicated as buying coke from the corner sari-sari store.
growing up, "old maids" were few and far in between. everyone gets married, sooner or later. some even get married twice (and no, no one died, and no one's muslim so you get the picture, right?). lola peng, my mom's aunt, and lola nanay, my paternal grandmother's best friend, were novelties, generous grand-aunts who'd adopt us as their own grandchildren, their gifts a happy addition to those expected from grandparents. none of us even deigned to imagine we'd end up like them, after all, wasn't finding the ONE, getting married, and having kids part of the series that begins with go to school and get a job?
maybe my mom was right when she made an offhand comment to me in high school. by then, the martha stewart gene had kicked in and i turned into that kind of person who prepared baons for road trips, something my mom never did (she never espoused eating in the car). and then, when i decided to shift to education in college, she noted that my course choice would definitely be another nail in the "single" coffin. i, her only daughter, was most likely going to grow old alone.
funnily enough, my mom's prophetic words should not have had any basis then - i dated behind my parents' back, and when i actually could date, i did, and had boyfriends of all shapes and sizes. once, vanessa wrote a draft screenplay loosely based on my relationships and her mentor commented that art should at least imitate life and vanessa's story of my life was certainly more art than anything. i wanted to send a note - life is more complex than any of the things people could come up with; mine certainly was.
when i broke up with the last person i actually consider my boyfriend, i made a pledge not to date until i passed the bar. i've been a lawyer for five and a half years already ... my status has yet to change. it's as if i've reached my quota of possible beaus after the dating spree in my twenties. sometimes i try to imagine myself ending up with any of the boys i dated, as well as the boys who tried to date me, and save for a guy who i turned down and eventually became my best friend, i actually can't imagine spending the rest of my life with any of them.
on the wall of my bathroom, right beside the mirror, there's a post-it that reads, "i'd rather be single that be married to the wrong man." ironically, a boy i dated, after using the bathroom, plucked the post-it from the wall and kept it in his wallet, claiming that it will be a constant reminder to him to be the right man. i put a replacement up (actually immediately after he stole the original post-it from the wall) ... this wasn't something that was going to be negotiable for me.
when i acknowledged that marriage isn't something that happens with the mere passing of time, when i accepted that i didn't really want any of the boys i dated, when i realized that life is infinitely more complicated than any of the plots of a sweet dreams book, that's when i had finally embraced the S box.