I will be 30 years old when I get married. I realize that I’m considered an “older” bride, statistically speaking. According to US census data, most American women get married at around 25 or 26 years old. I’m also one of the “older” blogger bees, although there have been a few 30-somethings here in the past (Mrs. Cauldron, Mrs. Mink, Mrs. Snapdragon, to name a few).
Recently, you may have read awesome entries from both Miss Bat and Miss Otter on getting married young. But this one is for the “older” brides and the “older” single or not-yet-engaged ladies. Yes, I see you not-yet-engaged ladies who are lurking around Weddingbee! No shame! I was in your shoes one year ago.
I am one of the last of my friends to get married. When I scroll through the class of ’01 on Facebook I see a lot of married people and I see a lot of babies. Some of my classmates and friends are now on their second or third child! And here I am, puttering around with just an engagement ring. No mortgage or car payment to speak of, chillin’ on some furniture from Target and Ikea. Do I feel behind the times? No, I don’t. The idea of having children still terrifies me. I have no idea where I want to buy a home and invest in a future. Luckily, Mr. Camel feels the same way. Mr. C, who will be 36 on our wedding day, has obviously seen his friends and relatives married off and having children for years now. He often tells me that after 30 he resigned himself to a life alone. He didn’t think he would ever get married and certainly not to someone he could be 100% himself around. And then along came me. Now here we are, ready to take that first big step: marriage. Marriage at 30.
Even if I was given the opportunity, there is nothing I would change about my past. I feel that everything, both the good and the bad, has happened for a reason and happened at the right time for me. As much as I would have loved to know a younger Mr. C, to have have shared in those crazy, lazy days of high school and college together, I know that we met and fell in love at exactly the right time in our lives.
I consider myself to be fiercely independent. I experienced my 20s at full throttle. I biked across France alone when I was 20 years old. I traveled across Europe, explored the life of T.E. Lawrence in England, and spent two years teaching English in a tiny Japanese town of 4,000 people. Could I have done all of these things with the love of my life by my side? Absolutely! But for me, my 20s was about reaching out to life’s experiences on my own. Meeting people, going places, and finding myself along the way. There were failed relationships. There were a few regrets here and there. But for me it was never about partying or casual dating.
Relationships are about compromise. As a 20-something I was able to live my life and make decisions based on what was best for me and me alone. I realize that sounds incredibly selfish, and it is. But it was also liberating and empowering. It enabled me to move to Japan, attend graduate school, teach English in Italy for a few weeks in a study abroad program, and find a job in a town where I wanted to live and work. Yes, you can do all of those things and more while married, but those plans and decisions can become much more problematic when two people are involved. I never had to plan my life or my decisions around the man in my life. I spent over two years living on my own, doing my own thing, growing comfortable with the silence of my own thoughts. In fact, that was the hardest thing to give up when Mr. C and I decided to move in together. We live in a small two-bedroom apartment, and every now and again I find myself pining for my tiny Japanese flat (even without central heating and air!) or the place I lived when I first started dating Mr. C. I miss the quiet. I miss that feeling of being utterly alone in your own space.
As a disclaimer, I haven’t always felt so comfortable about getting married later in life. I kept a blog in my early 20s and there are many entries where I sigh and wring my hands about being unable to share so many of life’s moments with the person I love. Ten years ago, at the age of 20, I wrote a an entry entitled “To the Person I Haven’t Met Yet.” Here’s how it ended: Youth fades so quickly, and I feel that time is running out. Every day without you seems a waste of energy and beauty. I don’t have all day, and there’s so much I have to tell you, and so much I want to show you. I have looked and looked, and I still can’t find you. So you win. You can come out now.
Oh dear, sweet 20-year-old Miss Camel. You are so intense with all of your emotions swimming just under your papery skin. You will lead a life that the wide-eyed teenager you once were would be intensely proud of. And you do find that guy, and guess what? He wasn’t in Rome or Tokyo or Manchester. He was next door. He was next door just waiting for you to finish your journey. He was there waiting to capture your wildly expanding heart. And when you meet him you will have so much to show him. Even now you aren’t done sharing stories and there’s no end to the places you want to take him. You will have a lot to talk about because your stories only got better. At 20, Miss Camel, you were barely out the door.
At 30, I am ready to take the next step with the man I love by my side. I’m ready to start a new journey, but it’s not just me and my old shoes anymore. There will be lots of compromising and it won’t always be easy. There will be times when I miss doing things on my own, but at the end of the day, having Mr. C in my life is absolutely worth it. Now we’re an unstoppable team.
If you are in your late 20s or 30s and you still haven’t met that special someone, don’t get yourself down. Or maybe, like me, you are with someone who makes you feel doubtful or uncertain about your future together. You are waiting for the next step, but not sure that it’s the right thing to do. Let it go. Enjoy your independence. Enjoy being utterly, completely yourself on your own. You have a whole life to meet someone and a whole marriage of compromising waiting for you. I realize that at this age many women feel their biological clocks ticking away, but watching the clock won’t stop time. Get out there and live your life, do the things you enjoy doing, and know that somewhere along the way you will meet the right person. And when you do, think of all the amazing stories you will have to share.
We shall never cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time
Excerpt from “The Wasteland” by T.S. Eliot