A couple days ago, my 4-and-a-half-year-old niece Anna called me up and said: “Emily, I think you should get married.”
I replied: “OK, but I need to find someone to marry first. Where do you think I should look?”
Anna: “Um, well, um, I was thinking Charlie.”
(Charlie is the 16-year-old student who stayed at my place this summer while he was going to arts school).
Me: “Charlie’s too young for me.”
Anna: “How come?”
Me: “Because he doesn’t fall into the half my age plus seven range.”
Silence on the line.
Me: “Anna, why do you think I should get married?”
Anna: “Because, most people get married. It’s just what you do.”
This really got me thinking.
As far as I know, my sister’s not over there consciously emphasizing the importance of marriage or partnership with Anna. Yet, somehow Anna has internalized this at the tender age of 4-and-a-half. (Either that, or she just had so much fun with Charlie, who gave her a lot of attention, and she figured me marrying him would be a surefire way for her to rekindle with her playmate).
I digress: We live in a world where partnership is perceived as the only option. If you never get married, you’re a sad, almost tragic, story.
“She never married? How is that possible?”
Case in point: Over Christmas, my family invited an old man friend of my dad’s (my sister’s old neighbour), who is now living in assisted care. The guy is 80 years old, never got married, (and might be an 80-year-old virgin, according to my dad). I can’t help but feel like he’s a tragic story. How lonely! How sad! How good we felt to invite him to our Christmas brunch to ease his never-ending lonely days.
So as much as my last post suggested my intention to fight society and accept that I maybe don’t want a traditional relationship or partnership, I think there might be a better approach for me:
(I can hear you mocking me already), but it is time I attempt the trapline approach.
A friend of mine has been suggesting it for years, but basically the analogy is this: We all want to catch a tuna one day, but in the meantime, to entertain and distract ourselves (and perhaps to fend off loneliness), it’s smart to feast upon smaller fish—salmon, cod, crab, shrimp, and bottom feeders of all sorts. The idea is to constantly maintain a trapline of fish, all the while keeping a long term eye on the prize: The fuckin’ tuna!
Though I know many people have followed this path for years, this is actually foreign to me. It feels like a grey zone, like living in a place where you never have to make a decision about anybody. And my decisions are usually fairly black and white and definitive and final. As a result, I have typically been all in or all out when it comes to men.
So this is my new approach into 2020: Always have three or four potentials in the trapline to give me attention—and available in case I ever need a date to a wedding etc—and most importantly, to keep me more relaxed as I wait for the great Bluefin tuna to swim my way.
But Kelsey, trapline aside, here’s the real question I pose: In time, can a mere bottom feeder—if you’re patient and relaxed and don’t force things and aren’t so focused on finding the tuna fish (as has been my approach in the past)—actually transform himself into the prized tuna?
Dare I ask you for your thoughts on this one?