Because I write for Singles, not because I harbour any desire to flee B.A., I sometimes ponder what I would be doing if I were still Single. The only image that comes up is of me in a big Catholic publishing house in Toronto, editing the Sunday missal. My imaginary office has a view of Lake Ontario, and there's a coffee machine in the kitchenette, and anyone who refers to the Holy Father as "Ratzinger" in my hearing is in big trouble.
I don't have an image of where I would be living, although I think I would still be living with my parents, because I like my parents and I don't like living alone. Every once in a blue moon I would get a personal letter from a religious order inviting me to "come and see" and I would wonder how they got my address.
That is where conjecture ends. I admit the idea of the publishing office gives me a pang because I would like the routine of 9-5, but of course only in a career I enjoyed, and I'm very grateful my mid-life immigration has not meant I have to scrub floors or work in a factory or do other work that well-educated immigrants often have to do, wherever they go.
(In case you're wondering why well-educated immigrants drive taxis, it is because it takes years to build up a network of contacts in your proper field, useful contacts who know where the jobs are, or want you to work for them.)
Anyway, the thing about marriage, as married ladies will often tell you just when you don't want to hear about it, is that it shuts a door on a lot of opportunities.
Of course nobody is supposed to fire female employees just for getting married anymore. But marriage often puts a roadblock in the careers of academics, for example, because if you marry a local man, with a local job, this often means you cannot seek a university position in any town but his. I am told there are fewer and fewer tenure-track positions available, and therefore the chances of finding one in your husband's town are slimmer than ever.
"Cry me a river," I heard someone say, a tiny voice from over the sea. "That's her choice, isn't it? I don't have a choice. I'd rather be married to my soul mate than go through all those horrible interviews at the MLA convention anyway."
Well, that may be very true. But that is also why, when you are Single, you should grasp all the opportunities that there are and that you can manage.
Incidentally, I should officially announce that B.A. said I could go to night school if I want to, and that I have signed up for Polish 1.1 (although I think I might have to upgrade to Polish 2.1) at Edinburgh University. For the sake of new readers I should explain that we have not been blessed with children, so I have much more freedom than mummies do.
So although there are all kinds of things I would like to do but can't, for various social, domestic or geographical reasons stemming from marriage (but the world well lost if lost for love), I can in fact go to night school.
Back to you. Right. Being Single can be a real pain, as you know, but it does have its bright side in adult life, and this is full autonomy and freedom to pursue work, hobbies, classes, travel and breakfast in bed on your day off without ever having to ask for permission. You can adopt a zoo of cats if you want to, for there is no man around to say no.
The statistics being what they are, the older you get, the more likely you are eventually to find yourself living with a man who says no to stuff. Of course, you might find yourself saying no to stuff to, as in "No, I don't think we should buy that object" and "No, you can't go down to the pub and wait out my tea party. You have to BE at my tea party." But the times your husband says no to your whims will be a real drag. So party now. PARTY NOW, POPPETS!!!
I have a word of caution about taking my advice and running with it, getting that amazing job in Phoenix, Arizona or going on a bus-tour of Europe or taking up belly-dancing classes or getting a grant to move to Prague and learn Czech. It is not to tweet or post up your movements on Facebook. If you do, you run the risk of the envious leaving comments like this:
"Oh you're so lucky. I don't even have time to go to the beauty parlour, now that the babies are here. LOL."
"Too fat from babies to go to belly-dance classes myself. LOL"
"Prague sounds wonderful but I guess I'll have to settle for being a yummy mummy. LOL."
And then you will find a comment on a favourite blog about how selfish single women are.
Well, if you tweet anyway, and this happens, ignore them all, poppets! If/when you get married, I want you to have some beautiful Single girl memories to reflect on. Of course, for the sake of still-Single girls, you must remember how much it sucks to be Single and what comments Single girls hate so you don't make them. But you should also have a bagful of Single memories to recollect with satisfaction, like looking at the city of Florence from the Piazzale Michaelangelo in October at dawn.