Living Outside the Box

Published in the Santa Barbara Sentinel under the pen name Elizabeth Rose.  Chris is known as “Jason” in the I Heart stories.

I knew it wouldn’t be easy. In fact, it was kind of a cluster f*ck.

My goal was to get a passport in fewer than two weeks and in order for one to do so, one must go to a semi-shady business outside Beverly Hills with your birth certificate, ID, and cash money.

For the cherry on top, you are then sent across town to the Van Nuys post office to have the paperwork processed and to be sworn in. 

Another battle with L.A. traffic on the 405 is no bueno but Mexico es muy bueno, and this gas-burning trek needed to happen in order to get me to the Spanish sunshine.

(Visualizing myself on a hammock at the beach began to melt my frustration away. Find your happy place, as they say.)

I held back a giant eye-roll, thanked the woman, and hopped in my car to travel to the other side of the world, which in L.A. terms is 11.5 miles away.

The Interrogation

I finally made it to the post office, took a number, and sat down to wait, harnessing the chi to keep my cool.

This is a test. This is only a test.

I’m pretty sure the universe creates the loops we must jump through to get our passports or licenses as a means to check in, to challenge us to keep it together.

I hear you, Universe. Namaste.

After a good 45-minute wait, I was called to the front so the friendly postal employee could go over my paperwork.

Soon, this experience would turn into a question of my life choices.

“Your mom was born in France? Is she a citizen?” she asks.

“Yes, my mom was an Army brat. She’s U.S.A. all the way.”

She chuckled a little.

“Dad’s born in New Orleans, Louisiana?”

“Yep. Southern gent.”

Then, it was my turn.

“So you were born in Oklahoma?”

“Yep, I’m an Army Brat, too.”

“So you’re…..”

“I’m 34.”

“Have you ever been married?”

A Checked Box

Up until this moment, I have been quite solid in the fact that I haven’t gotten married.

This simple question requires much more than a checked box for anyone to answer.

What I wanted to say was,

“Actually, I’ve had a couple of opportunities to get married, but I wasn’t ready to settle down. Now that I know myself more than ever – granted, I’m still learning every day – I feel closer and more ready than I have ever been. 

“So no, I have not been married. Yet. I’m gaining ground in my career, I’m in love, and I’m traveling, which is everything I’d like to have right now, thank you very much.

“I mean, we all want different things in life, right? And if your things happen to be kids and marriage in your 20s or early 30s, that’s great! Who am I to judge? Peace be with you and all of that, but my point is marriage is something I’d love to experience one day but I feel no real rush to jump into.

” And as for kids? Maybe one day. Maybe.

“Man, I’m sweating. Is it hot in here, or is it just me? Anyway, ‘Have you been married?’ That has such a loaded question, don’t you think? A question, a statement even, in black and white, defining who were are as living, breathing humans with no opportunity for a backstory, no history, nothing.

“Is this what it comes down to when we die?

“Are we just a list of checked and unchecked boxes in a list of life? It feels a bit sad and hollow. Where’s the ‘I didn’t marry the wrong person’ box? Or the “I haven’t felt the pressure to have gotten married by now” box or “I want to have a life of travel and adventure before kids – if I decide to have them – hence why I need a passport pronto” box… are you getting all of this?”

Instead, I decided to spare her from my mental, fist-in-the-air diatribe and simply answered, “No”.

I’m pretty sure she got the point.

Living Inside The Box

Clearly, I haven’t processed my feelings on the matter.

In a way, it’s strange to me that I am at the age where “never married” is not so common and the question, “Why not?” asked more than I’d like.

Constantly feeling that I must defend this “journey,” we’ll call it, is a bit taxing.

I appreciate that my issues have come to the surface but it’s time to let it go and take societal expectations with a grain of salt.

Similar to the salt that will rim my margarita glass in Mexico.

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  1. OMG! That’s all I can say. That mental block when people ask what is such a simple question. A couple of girls in my grad class asked me why I was single? It feels like the same question. Mind you both these girls were around my age one engaged and the other married. I just don’t even know how to respond. Simple even when your mind is running 100 miles a minute always seems to be what they are looking for. Thanks for sharing.

    • GIRL, I FEEL YOU! Thanks for sharing your experience, I’m sorry that happened to you. People sometimes…I remember when one dude said there was something wrong with me because I was over 30 and single. He was insistent, to which I walked away bc how do you answer that? You don’t. People project on your happy life because they question their own. You represent a type of freedom they will never know again (unless divorce, God forbid) OR a freedom they’ve never actually taken the time to know! I think, there’s always time for a relationship down the road. Soak up the “me time” while you have it! You’re in a position many people wish they had taken advantage of. ENJOY and RUN WITH IT! xo