As far back as I can remember, I never grew up thinking I wanted what some people consider, “The American Dream”: the house, the husband, the kids. Don’t get me wrong, I always SAID I wanted it when I was in conversation with someone but I never really FELT that’s what I wanted. I never aimed to achieve that. It was as if acquiring those things was the natural order of life and I was supposed to want them. It wasn’t until I hit 31 that I realized I wasn’t dreaming the American Dream. Let me tell you how this happened:
I was in the 3rd year of a relationship with a guy that I really loved and still love to this day. We’re the best of friends. We’re just not the best of lovers at this point in our lives. At the time, he was moving into his new place that he had bought and gut renovated and in New York City, buying and gut renovating your own place is a big freakin’ deal. I was walking in to see the finished product for the first time and I was so excited for him. Even more excited for me because he was moving right down the sidewalk from where I lived and this meant my walks of shame were going to be much shorter.
I walked in to the first floor of this 4-floor, renovated brownstone and it looked so amazing. The floors were a shiny, dark hardwood throughout the first level. The walls that had Little House on the Prairie wallpaper and chipped paint peeling from them before were now smooth and covered with fresh Benjamin Moore matte blues, oranges, earthy browns. I walked through the new kitchen where the cabinets matched those nice, shiny hardwood floors and the counter tops were the best of granite. THIS was a kitchen I could cook in. Next came the tour of the upstairs and this is where I froze…
I walked over to the stairs that had been refurbished quite nicely but covering them was my worst nightmare: maroon carpet. I hate maroon and dark-colored carpet sends my OCD into overdrive. In my opinion, maroon carpet should only be permitted in 80’s themed banquet halls and small, Southern churches. I looked at his proud, cute face and on the outside, I was beaming with approval but on the inside, I was screaming: “How could a man I love pick maroon carpet to cover his stairs?” Then I had an epiphany…
Here I am, in this four story, beautiful new home of a man I was with so far, for 3 years and not once did he stop to ask my opinion on this bad carpet decision or anything else in the house for that matter. I saw a blueprint and went with him on a run to pick out cabinets before but I was simply accompanying him and not making any decisions about what I liked or what I wanted this place to be. I realized that he wasn’t planning this house for us. He was planning it for him. So, just to be sure, I asked him:
Me: “So, is this it for you? Is this the house?”
When I have “oh, wow” moments like this, I really take the time to dissect them. It’s almost as if I’m sitting down, removing my brain and dividing it into four parts with a scalpel to try and get to the core of why this thought exists. I sometimes even take a pencil and a piece of paper and write out what in the hell is going on in my head in list format:
1. Okay, he has this ugly, maroon carpet in this big house. I hate it.
2. He would have to change that if I were to ever move in there.
3. But wait: I don’t like this neighborhood and don’t want to live here for a long period of time.
4. Why doesn’t this bother me like it should? Why am I not angry that he didn’t consult me on any of these decorating decisions?
5. Oh! I know! It’s because I plan on living by myself eventually and I can pick my own carpet!
6. But wait: If we’ve been together for 3 years and I’m in my early 30s, shouldn’t we be planning to build a life together?
7. Does this make him selfish? Does wanting to pick my own carpet make me selfish??
8. Is there something subconsciously telling me that this isn’t the relationship for me? Or would I feel like this in any other relationship?
9. Who’s going to vacuum all those freakin’ steps?
I eventually came to the conclusion that I craved my own independence. Maybe it was because I’ve always had roommates and living alone was a goal. Or, maybe I’m just in love with my privacy. Never once did I give marriage or my “biological clock” a thought because to be honest, I think it’s either unplugged or my battery is dead. But this was honestly how I felt and for me, that was okay. Of course the reality later surfaced that our relationship was WAY off balance and we had much deeper issues but that’s for another post.
The point here is, something as simple as ugly-colored carpet made me realize that the traditional sense of love and relationships may not be for me and again, that’s okay. I realized that while I love relationships and love, I don’t have to follow the societal model that was laid out before me just because “that’s the way it is”. Maybe all of that will change later on and I’ll want someone to share my space with. Who knows. But for now, I want to pick my own carpet, preferably for a condo vs. a house because I hate yard work and the thought of being responsible for a plumbing system makes me cringe. Sorry, mom.