A couple months ago I went to see the musical Wicked for the first. Not surprisingly, I loved it. Also, not surprisingly, I really identified with the green-skinned outcast, Elfie. She has a line in the penultimate verse of the epic song that closes the first act:
“And if I’m flying solo, at least I’m flying free.”
That one hit home.
Those of you who know me well know that I have been single for a LONG time, and that I’ve never really been in what would qualify as a serious relationship. Most of the time, being single doesn’t bother me. I like my alone time, and I’ve gotten used to living my life a certain way, a way that I truly enjoy. I have never been one of those people who needs to be in a relationship.
But since moving to Dublin my singleness has become more apparent, more obvious. I don’t know if it’s just a weird coincidence or if this is a cultural difference but just about everyone I know is part of a couple. And most of those couples are Couples – either married or together for so many years they might as well be married. I seriously only have one single friend, and even she is newly single. None of my coupled friends ever make me feel awkward about being single but it’s just odd to me that the numbers are so heavily skewed that way.
This minority status of mine has given me pause to think about my singleness and I’ve come to realize that I owe it a lot. There is every chance that if I was part of a couple I wouldn’t have been able to live my dream of becoming an expat. If I was part of a couple, there would have been so many more things to consider when making the decision to move to Dublin. Me being single meant I was free to leave everything behind in Los Angeles. I was free to accept a job and move to a city I’d never even been to before. And I was free to fail miserably and run back home if things didn’t work out.
I also think my being single for so long helped me to develop the independence, resilience and adventurousness that I needed to take the huge risk that moving to Europe was. And having the freedom to only worry about myself when I did it relieved some of the pressure. I know that some people might pity me being single for such a long time, but honestly, given what it’s gotten me and where it’s gotten me, I wouldn’t trade it.
Which isn’t to say I wouldn’t like to meet someone. Maybe. Someday. Many of my friends back in the States have said they think I will finally meet someone over here. It hasn’t happened yet, but it’s a nice thought. And I’m open to it. But in the meantime, I have a freedom that many don’t and for as long as I have it, I will treasure it.
Elsa, the ice princess in Frozen (incidentally, voiced by Idina Menzel who is also the original Elfie in Wicked) proclaims with gusto and more than a little relief in the song “For the First Time in Forever”:
Yes, I’m alone but I’m alone and free!
And, speaking from experience, that is not a bad way to be.