So this morning I was surfing the net when I came across this article in the New York Observer that kind of stopped me in my tracks. Sure, these aren’t new issues, but the piece struck a chord with me.
I’m sure there are already a lot of women writing about this (I found the article through a link from Jezebel) and what it says about our society and a single woman’s place in it. I’m not going to hop on that bandwagon.
No, I’m going to tell a somewhat relevant story.
Many years ago I decided that it was time for me to move out of my crappy studio apartment. Now mind you, just a few years earlier I was flirting with the repulsive real estate agent who showed me the place in the hopes of landing that very same crappy studio. I spent my late 20s the way many New Yorkers do - sharing an apartment with someone I grew to loathe (it was all that I could afford at the time). But then I got a promotion at work and I found myself a crappy little studio and moved in. I furnished it with a combination of things from Ikea and hand me downs and it actually looked pretty OK. Nicer than a college place but still not “grown up”.
Then my next big bump in salary came along and I decided it was time to be a real grown up. I wanted an apartment with rooms and a building that wasn’t crawling with roaches. I couldn’t afford to buy, but I knew that if I looked hard enough I could find a one bedroom apartment to call my own. And I did. I found a rent stabilized one bedroom in the neighborhood I wanted to live in (I’m not bragging, just telling a story).
And then it hit me. I wanted it to look nice. Really nice. It was my first “grown up” apartment, the first place I was going to be really proud of. I wanted to fill it with nice things. I wanted to buy furniture. But, and here’s the punchline, I didn’t know any single women who had ever bought their own furniture. A bed, sure. Lots of futons and bookcases. But living room furniture, never. That was something that people did once they coupled up, moved in together, got married. And sure enough, when I mentioned it to a friend her response was, “make sure to pick something a man would like”. The assumption being that if I met someone and we got together my new furniture would go to waste if it wasn’t to the guy’s taste.
I actually agonized about it for a month. I drove every furniture salesperson in the city crazy. Every weekend I made the rounds, going from store to store. I sat on every sofa. Felt every fabric. Asked a thousand questions.
And eventually I bought something that no man would want in his living room. Chick furniture. It’s a pale fabric and it’s kind of petite (like me) and completely impractical. Which is ridiculous because I’m usually a very practical person. But I just got so sick of being told to get a leather sofa, or to get something in black or in the brown family because I’ll have it forever and I needed to think of the potential future changes in my life (assumption being that I wouldn’t be single forever). It’s stupid, I know, but I felt like my chick furniture was an act of defiance. A very expensive act of defiance.
I don’t really care if I ever get married. I don’t really want to. I’d like to be in a relationship, to have a partner. If I met a guy and we had a great relationship and he wanted to get married, I’d be game. But I don’t need the ring or the ceremony or the piece of paper. I do care that so many of the small decisions in my life seem to have this weird “single woman” significance attached to them. I wasn’t just shopping for furniture, I was a single woman shopping for furniture. When I plan vacations, I’m a “single woman” planning a vacation. When I spend too much money on a dress because it’s pretty and I want it…
Tags: jezebel, money, single