a smile through the gray (from the archives)

I was washing my hands in the bathroom early this evening, and I saw something in my hair catching the light. I turned my head from side to side, trying to figure out what it was. I was around glitter at work today, so I thought I may have gotten some in my hair (which would be terrible, because glitter never goes away). Alas, it wasn’t glitter. Or dust. Or fairy dust (much to my chagrin). No, it was a gray hair. My mother, in a slightly mocking voice, announced that I had a gray hair (since my mother had gray hair at my age, she is allowed to mock me, but only this once).

A gray hair. Perish the thought.

And I had that moment that all women have at some point in their life. That moment when you know, unequivocally, that you are getting older. But not just older, you’re aging, as in its time for age defying facial treatments, make up, and all-over gray coverage hair dye. I may have cried a little bit… don’t judge me.

I turn twenty-four in twenty-two days. Since I’m already on the wrong side of twenty-one, this birthday is a bit poignant. Most likely because there were so many things I had expected to have done by now. I expected to have a graduate degree. I expected to have travelled to Britain. I expected to have written a novel. I expected to be living on my own. I expected to have a career I love. I expected to be married to a man that I adore. I expected to be thinking about having a family. Instead, I think about how in debt, lonely, and dependent I am. Its not the place I wanted to be.

God, I’m sure, laughs at my expectations on some days. I can imagine He’s trying to figure out why I think that I will have everything I want without hassle or struggle. And I’m sure He wishes I would stop making sweeping declarations about what I will or won’t do, because then He feels obligated to set me straight. (In high school, I told everyone I would never go to a small, private, Christian college in Oregon. One guess as to where I ended up). He likes to keep me grounded. And He does know best. I can appreciate the path He has taken me on.

But sometimes my path seems a bit lackluster. I know there is something missing. The thing I desire, more than my other hopes and dreams, is a loving partner to walk through life with me. I’m unfortunately single, with no end to my predicament in sight. All around me, my friends from childhood, high school, and college are getting married. They are settling down and some have started raising a family. My best friend since before I could walk has two children. Two adorable little girls I love to buy books for (I already have the youngest one’s birthday present picked out). I see my friend with her husband and girls, and I long for that. I long for the love, the friendship, the devotion, the partnership.

I think I may have been in love once. Then again, it may have been an intense bout of like fueled by circumstance and convenience. As I have never felt that way before and haven’t felt that way since, I’m going to think it was a lot like love. He was wonderful; exactly what I needed at that moment in my life. For a few short months, while we both explored the newness of the Middle East, I fell for him. He was cynical enough to make me comfortable, but was able to laugh and make me laugh. Maybe he was just a really good friend, and I twisted it into something more. But there were moments when he would look at me and the world would stop. Everything around us would freeze and inside, I would melt.

When we flew home from Egypt, I leaned on his shoulder and he let me dream in peace. I wanted so desperately to hold his hand, to feel the warmth of his skin on mine. I wanted to take that memory with me, a piece of him I could remember holding. He asked me to come to New York with him. I said I couldn’t. That’s why I sometimes think it wasn’t love. Because if it was, wouldn’t I have needed to go? Wouldn’t I have been desperate for it? If I truly loved him, wouldn’t I have insisted on going? But I said no. One of my few true regrets. Hopefully not my last chance.

Ecclesiastes says there is a time for everything:

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to love, and a time to hate… (3:4,8)

Maybe that wasn’t my time. Neither were the times before or the times up until now. Maybe my time to love is soon, or perhaps not. Love is, as is often said, patient. But when I fall in love, I want every day to be like the first day. I want each kiss to be more perfect. I want every night to be more lovely. I want to love my husband completely, never having enough of him but being totally satisfied. Being at once filled with contentment and still desiring more. I want to make promises to him, and I want to keep them. I want everyone to know that I’m his and he’s mine and we’re each others. I want to be devoted to him: emotionally, spiritually, physically, intellectually. I want to share life with him.

Perhaps that’s why getting older seems like I’m losing something. I’m losing moments to share, memories to make, time to spend with him. Life is meant to be shared with our one love. We were created (women especially) for a meaningful, lasting relationship. We want to share our heart and our world with a man who is significant. Men, we want you to be a part of our lives. We want to make you laugh with the funny things we heard that day. We want to hug you when you share your frustrations. We want to make you smile that secret smile you reserve specially for us.

So I will wait for our moment and all the moments that will come after that. I’ll wait for your smile. And it will be worth it.

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