“I’m not a girl, not yet a woman”, Britney once said. It seems appropriate to quote an innocent school-girl turned scandal-engulfed mother of two to begin an article about this crossroads in my life. At the age of 27 perhaps I should be leaning rather more strongly towards the woman side of things, but my inability to imagine myself as the bride in a wedding photograph or the new mum in a hospital bed seems to alienate me from the more mature camp.
Surrounded by a host of panicked single friends who worry about being left on the shelf with nothing but a ticking body clock and cellulite on their arse, I wonder if I’m the only sane one in a mad world. Yes, judging by our parent’s generation, we should be married with expanding waistlines by now but things have changed, yet it doesn’t seem as if all women have realigned their fears with this new time scale for life.
I sometimes wonder if I’m the Peter Pan of the dating world, uneasy about having an adult relationship that might result in something only grown ups do like marriage. Even worse, am I Verruca Salt, the spoilt brat who couldn’t see how fortunate she was until it was all too horribly late? In writing this I hope that I’m communicating with some fellow citizens of Neverland – other girls (women?) who are toying with the idea of migrating to the adult world of serious relationships but think they probably won’t survive there too long.
Of course it would be too mature of me to shoulder all the responsibility for this myself, so the first people I would like to blame are my mum and dad.
To make matters worse for my single girlfriends, everyone from their parents to their nosey neighbours are enquiring as to why they’re not at the very least wearing an engagement ring, whilst banging on about the happiness of other newlyweds who are already walking in time to the nearing patter of tiny feet.
In the chalkiest cheesiest of contrasts imaginable, my parents never mention such things and I’m still fulfilling the role of being a baby, not having one! Only last week, my Dad took great dutiful pleasure in scrubbing some chocolate off my face with a damp washing up cloth. I know they claim foundation these days remains flawless for 24 hours but even the most advanced cosmetic technology is futile against the parent with the wet J-cloth. However, I digress…..It’s only fair to say that my Dad did mention marriage to me once when my brother was working for a marquee company in his summer holidays and Dad thought he might get one on the cheap should I fancy it.
So now you might be wondering why I’m complaining, why I’m asking these questions of myself, worrying about not worrying and feeling guilty about being young and free spirited. Well…..the problem is this.
I’ve been seeing a guy who I can’t find anything wrong with. Or worst of all, nothing to even suggest he’ll become inappropriate at some future date. Here I am, sitting on the fence which separates Neverland from the real world and I’d be happy to stay here for quite some time, but you only have so long it seems. There is a fixed period of time before the splinters start sticking in your arse and the creosote permanently stains your knickers.
I’m looking back at the world I could leave behind and a wave of longing unsteadies me from my perch. I’m thinking about all the guys down there – carefully selected from a group, who rather like cigarettes, give you several pleasurable rushes but at the same time carry a warning label reminding you that a sorry and painful end is imminent. Oh, but they’re so much fun though! Can’t I just lead a double life, ducking and diving between nail biting dates with wild playboys and evenings spent being adored and pampered by a perfect gentleman?
Even I, with my idyllic yet completely naive view of the world, realise this is not possible. But, never one to make a quick decision or display any sense of urgency, I’m going to stay on the fence and eat a lot of chocolate, that way there’ll be more room for the splinters and eventually I’ll fall off leaving fate to decide my path!