The benefits of being alone
I don’t know what the hell I was so afraid of – being alone is awesome.I’m serious. As much as I hate sounding like one of these clichéd 30-something professional women who doesn’t want to accept the fact that I’m just too much for most men to handle (Maureen Dowd, are you listening?) the bottom line is I’ve stopped fighting it.Screw a husband and family – I want fame and fortune.Every time I talk to my dad he asks me, “Why aren’t you married? I just don’t get it.” He hounds me about finding a husband the exact same way he used to hound me about changing the oil in my car. The really sad part of it is my dad is way more desperate than I am. I’ll talk about this friend or that friend and he’ll go, “What about him? At this point, I’d settle for him. He’s fine.” I swear, he’s this close to putting up a dowry for me. “I think about it every single day,” he’ll say with a sigh. “It just doesn’t make sense.”Sorry daddy, but I’ll probably walk down the red carpet long before I’ll walk down the aisle. My book (which I am finally writing, by the way, for real) will be my baby, and the premiere of the movie they make from my book will be like my wedding (which makes my book sort of like an illegitimate child).I wanna be that bitchy, childless rich lady who disembarks from her private jet with oversize glasses and a Hermes scarf carrying a little dog in a Louis Vuitton case. I’ll end up dating one of the actors in my movie, like Owen (or Luke) Wilson. I’ll become best friends with Kate Hudson because we’ll totally connect on the Aspen-as-home thing. When we’re all in Aspen together, I’ll probably throw some kind of invite-only party with Alex Halperin from Aspen Peak so all my friends can become part of my inner circle of famous people, if only for a day. I might even let May Selby come and snap a few shots for her column, as long as she agrees not to sell to the tabloids under any circumstances.Elaborate fantasies aside, I have had this huge epiphany. I realized what a luxury being on my own is. Men take up a lot of space in my brain – always have, ever since I can remember. It’s basically all I’ve been thinking about since the day the ol’ hormones took control of my brain when I was 12 years old. I feel like a drunk who finally went to one of those meetings in the basement of a church and said, “My name is Alison Berkley and I am a boy-aholic.”The weirdest part of it is now that I’m through throwing myself into hopeless relationships, I watch my friends who are still doing it (why do we do it? why?) and it is so blatantly obvious to me that a) the relationship is not going anywhere b) the guy is a selfish jerk and c) the guy doesn’t really want to be in the relationship in the first place, but is going along with it either because the sex is good or because he’s too lazy (or scared) to break it off.It reminds me of when my brother was a teenager and would come home drunk and smelling like cigarettes, trying to act sober. I could smell the mouthwash or the spearmint gum and would watch him straining to look me in the eye just to prove he could focus through that blurry vision. I was aghast at how bloody obvious it was, mostly because I had done all the exact same things.It’s the same deal with my friends. Like the other day, my friend Suzy calls me up from Sun Valley and is telling me all her boyfriend woes. She’s sitting there going: “He’s just really busy,” and “He likes to do his own thing,” and making up all these ridiculous excuses for the fact that guy is basically a jerk who won’t commit, but she’s going to continue to sleep with him anyway. It’s so obvious this relationship is going nowhere and I can say so because I have been there too many times to count.I have another friend from back East who sent me two emails she’d written her boyfriend: one version she wanted to send, and one she actually sent. The one she wanted to send basically said, “I don’t like being treated this way and if you continue to treat me this way I don’t think I want to be in this relationship anymore.” And the one she sent (I swear I am not making this up) said, “I’m sorry about the other night. I know I can be difficult sometimes but the good thing is we can still have make-up sex!”I can’t even tell you how many years I spent doing the exact same crap. I remember on one of my first dates with a boyfriend from college, he said, “Don’t pin your hopes on me.” We ended up together for three years, even though I knew the outcome was made clear on day one.What was I thinking? Simple. I was afraid to be alone.Well, guess what? Now that I’ve made a decision to be alone, I flipping love it. I sleep eight to 10 hours every night, never have bad dreams and wake up every day with a huge smile on my face. I have so much room in my brain without all that stress and angst that I am writing – really writing – maybe for the first time in my whole entire life.I don’t plan to be alone forever, silly. I just want to wrap myself in a cocoon for a little while, until I’m ready to re-emerge a butterfly.The Princess is feeling pretty good about herself. Send your loving email to email@example.com.
For the last 35 years I’ve been covering what we call the “salmon wars” in the Pacific Northwest, writing so many stories about salmon heading toward extinction that I’ve lost count.
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