I remember sitting in a bar in Milford once, years ago, part of a not-so-happy couple, and thinking "God, how I'd hate to be single in this town." I think I actually turned to another of my paired-off friends and said it out loud, pointing to the less-than-spectacular buffet of men before us for emphasis. "Look what we'd have to choose from." And, during fights with my then-boyfriend, I'd tell my mom through my tears how unhappy I was. And she'd listen softly, offering her support in the form of her ears, and when I was finally done with the details, she'd tell me to leave him. I'd admit that I was scared. And she assured me that someone, someday, would love me just as much as she did. I didn't believe her.
Fast forward to, oh, about a year later, sitting in that same bar, with the same coupled-friend, only this time, I was single in Milford. And now, the not-entirely-appetizing buffet of men there were there for me to feast on; Not for some hypothetical poor single girl who couldn't find and subsequently pin down some guy. For me. I was the girl I pitied only months before. I felt embarrassed for my words of yesteryear. I called my mom after every bombed blind date, after every social event that still left me empty handed. I'd lament that no one person held all the qualities I wanted, that I supposed I'd just have to give up some good traits in exchange for others. And she'd remind me to be patient, that I'd find someone eventually. That, regardless of when it happened, I'd find everything I was looking for in one person.
And, now, fast forward to now, when I'm part of a happy couple. I look back on the two Lauries from before, and I don't know which one I feel sorrier for: The single one with slim pickins, the victim of a handful of bad blind dates...Or the one breathing a sigh of relief because, even though she was dramatically unfulfilled in her relationship, at least she had someone to refer to as her boyfriend.
I think I'm sorriest for the girl in the relationship.
Because, out of the two, she was the one ruled by fear. Fear that she'd never get any better than what she had, fear that she didn't deserve any better. She was happy to take what she was given, because it wasn't horrible and it could easily pass for enough. But it wasn't enough. And even though she knew that, she stuck it out and tried to make it work because, well, it was better than nothing.
I had no idea I could be this happy. I was unaware that I could be part of something that kept me smiling instead of wondering and worrying and crying. I can't believe that I'm satisfied, that I've nothing to ask for or demand or request. I have the compliments, the attention, the love I always wanted. And I had no idea that I'd want to give so much in return. I was always accused of doing, of giving, nothing, which was probably true at the time. But now I want to keep giving, just to show my appreciation for being so fulfilled.
I want to go and shake the Laurie in the bar, the one with the boyfriend and the fear, and tell her that she doesn't have to sacrifice anything to be happy. She doesn't have to be ashamed of who she is or what she thinks or what she needs or what she does, because there's a guy out there who's going to love her because of all of those things, not in spite of them.
Just like mom said.