Single in the Suburbs
Turning Twenty-eight, Reflections on a single girl's life:
Clocks tick, generations turn, God bless America
by Lauralyn Avallone
It was a beautiful day, my birthday. I was reclining back in my beach chair, gazing out on the horizon, feeling like I was on vacation in some tropical paradise, not right here on one of Long Island's very own beaches. A woman caught my eye, her little son taking those clunky, independent, baby's steps. Mother and child plopped down on the sand with a bucket and shovel and soon sand was spraying everywhere.
That's great, I thought to myself. Yeah, I wouldn't mind having one of those. As if I could just drive down to the baby store and pick one up. "Um, I'd like one medium, potty-trained boy, please? Oh, there's a sale on girls? Ok, I'll take one of those." I also reviewed my latest conversations with parents: "what does a fifteen year old need with a cell phone? Oh those teenagers, those new drivers, those teething years." This isn't me. This is my parents talking!
Then feeling my lips melt into a frown as a hollow, scary, irritating sound rang in my ears: tick tock.
My God, is this the dreaded clock always talked about? The biorhythm that led so many Hollywood have not's to adopt or reproduce single mom style? I pictured Calista Flockhart single handedly pushing a stroller, Camryn Manheim posing dateless, plump with child, Jodie Foster tapping her baby on a swing set, Liz Hurley trying new diet fads to rid baby fat so she could get back to modeling.
Is this my future? But sans TV sitcom or Estee Lauder contract? Which means, no nanny for extra help or super SUV for carpools. How often does the average woman making a modest salary consciously choose single motherhood? My bet is that it's rare, but this audible ticking in my head explains the reason.
"All in good time" and "someday" were comforting words before, but nearing thirty without so much as a Saturday night date lined up, sour thoughts like, "when is a good time?" and "Will someday ever happen?" start stirring. Like so many other single girls, my life has been goal oriented - first goal being to establish a career. With generations raised in the aftermath of divorce, many mothers are advising their daughters to always have something to fall back on, have your own career so no one can ever control you with their money, and God forbid anything should happen to your husband, you need the security.
Plus, high rents, car payments and weekend fun definitely adds up. Before you know it, the ching ching sound that money makes turns into the ring, ring of nature calling. Domesticity creeps up on you, grabs your hair, caveman-style, drags you out of that bar and says: "your happiest hour will be your baby's first."
Whoa, that's big. But for many, it's something not in their control and so not something to focus on. Most likely another reason for the boom of singles toting babes - you have some control over your career, but not much when it comes to meeting your match. That's in destiny's hands and for some people, destiny isn't reached in time as far as their bodies are concerned. So baby precedes boy. No doubt, a country at war and facing uncertainty would tack on extra meaning to starting a family.
But sometimes I wonder, as I drive around Long Island, noticing the red, white and blue not as prevalently displayed on cars or in windows, I wonder if the devastating, history and life altering event that happened just eight months ago still has a lasting affect on people. Because in less than the time it takes to produce a new human being, at least in the singles scene, not much has changed. It's all back to "normal" - a lot of girls being standoffish and guys being less than gentlemanly and alcohol making everyone sloppy and silly.
Wouldn't it be nice if it didn't take heartache to inspire people to be open and kind, and if in turn, heartache wouldn't cause hearts to freeze and set like hardened lava? Wouldn't it be swell if romance bloomed like uncomplicated daises and stayed rooted as such? If babies were always born from love, trust and an unbreakable bond that links a family to a tree?
Someday, singles, that can all come true. Life is what you make it. So, if you prefer Ally McBaby, baby, go for it. Hey, buy a book and soak up the sun on Long Island's great sands. It's summer, for Chrissakes. Time is extended, days are brighter, and everyone is wearing less and looking more. Even the clocks should be turned off and put away for now. All of them.
Scene and Heard on Long Island
A bar Glen Cove: an ex-girlfriend with something to prove accepts an invite from her ex-boyfriend to meet up at a local joint with him and his friends. A rare event, even when they were dating, she gets decked out, looking more than fabulous and when she walks through the door, no one recognizes her. Not even her ex. "Wow," he tells her. "I should have never let you go." More than satisfied with his response, she replies, "I know," cordially finishes her drink and bids the boys goodnight, leaving them speechless.
A hotel in Medford: A girl, spending a Saturday night catching up on quality time with her Dad, hangs out in a lounge where there's karoake. A gold earring-clad, buttoned up white shirt- wearing guy approaches her and asks if she'd sing a duet to O Town or "All Cried Out." She politely declines and then asks her father why he didn't save her from that line. "I don't want to get in the way of anything," he says sheepishly. The girl reconsiders the bold move to release her vocal inadequacies onto an audience of strangers. Upon asking her father if he'd join her, he says, "we have to practice to do that." Wanting to prove to herself that she could in fact overcome stage fright and sing, braving confidence without any extra help from drinks, etc., she finds O Town guy and the duet formed into a trio as the girl and two guys sang, "La Isla Bonita" as people danced along. "We're all drunken messes here," a very buzzed, very gay, shirt buttons undone mid-chest, O Town says. "It's all about having fun."
A club in Farmingdale: A grieving son organizes a cancer benefit concert in memory of his late mother and in an effort to raise money for an organization that aids cancer patients. A bunch of original Long Island based bands rock out to a supportive group of friends and strangers. "I don't want to be a rock star with a big house and all that," one lead singer says. "I just love to play music." CD's are bought, pink hair girls yell too loud over the music, hair gets caught in lipstick. A wasted guy takes a girl's pen and proceeds to pick the bathroom lock with it until it breaks, then throws it back, demolished, with a leering look. Charming. Bands talk about record deals and managers. Everyone talks about how cancer has affected their lives. Over three grand is raised, new friends are made and numbers are exchanged.
(For information about Long Island's new cancer fundraising event, where some of our best musicians perform their original songs, write to Mike Somberg at VenusVegas4@aol.com)