30 Something and Unmarried
by Laura Cave
I thought I’d be married by now. Maybe you can relate.
If you’re single and blissfully savoring sole use of the bathroom and queenly authority over everything from vacation plans to what’s for dinner, I’m finally with you, but it took some time.
I’ve dated my fair share, had my heart broken, and broke a few along the way.
By my mid-thirties, deep disappointment settled inside me. I was not being chosen. Like a sinking anchor, low-grade depression poured salt in every wound and tempered every victory. Did I mention I was working for a wedding magazine?
I want to tell you how that changed.
It all started with a wedding.
I’d never been to Europe and my passport expired. But I bought a ticket, got a last minute appointment at the passport office, and flew to Paris with a gaggle of New Yorkers to watch our friend wed her handsome French fiance.
It was the first week of May. The bride carried a bouquet of muguet, or Lily of the Valley. We helped her get ready. I retouched a smudged nail with a milky white Dior polish called, of course, muguet. I bought a muguet candle to bring home. It was an aesthetic fixation. It felt chic and new.
Though I hardly admitted it to myself, the muguet was a vessel for my fragile hopes that I could be loved.
Over the summer, I lost my job. My French boyfriend left me, abruptly. “It’s not enough,” he said bluntly. He was right. My cat had to be put to sleep. I put away everything from France, stashing special wine bottles and my muguets deep in the back of my coat closet.
My heart was heavy as a stone.
Then, at a party, a married friend suggested, not unkindly, I read Song of Songs, an erotic poem in the Bible, as a letter to me from God. I admit my eyes almost rolled out of my head. But months later during a weekend in the Catskills I felt like it was time.
In the first chapter, a lover and his beloved are swooning over one another like lovesick teenagers. You’re wonderful, no YOU’re wonderful, no YOU are, their words translated in my head. My lonely heart winced. But suddenly the beloved changes the pattern and says about herself, “I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.” The words jumped off the page. The beloved calls herself a lily of the valley. My muguet wasn’t stolen because someone said I wasn’t enough. The muguet was something deeply true about me all along. I was the muguet after all.
The beloved describes her lover as leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills and gazing through the windows, looking through the lattice.
God was coming for me, searching me out, hoping to catch a glimpse of me, waiting patiently for me to open the door. The muguet wasn’t a wish; it was a love note from a voice that was calling me beloved.
I’m learning to listen to the voice that calls me beloved. The voice is God’s. Every time I do, the weight gets lighter. I won’t be offended if you roll your eyes, but if your heart is hurting, would you try tuning into that voice?
A native Californian, Laura studied creative writing at the University of Southern California before moving to NYC to earn her MA in Interdisciplinary Humanities at New York University. She is the author of Good News, Great Joy, For All People and an experienced marketer having worked with brands like The Knot, Oscar, and K Health.