"Are you enough?"
I'll never forget that line from Sex and the City. The fabulous four are discussing the importance of finding a man as Charlotte blurts out "Are you enough?" and does so with such insistence that she's quite endearing.
In fact, her conviction that life is incomplete without a mate is a source of considerable comedic charm, as are her efforts over the years to secure a suitable husband.
It's a television moment that makes me laugh. And shudder. And think. I know myself well, and I'm different when there's a man in my life -- I'm more even-tempered, more outgoing. I'm happier. While that doesn't mean I'm unhappy going solo, I prefer sharing my days and nights with another adult. A male adult. And no, not someone I "settle" for (or who settles for me), but someone I trust, respect, and desire -- as well as love. Love, it seems to me, is the easy part. It's everything else that's the challenge.
Recently, I spent an afternoon with a new woman friend. We sat at her kitchen table chatting, and found we had much in common. We're the same age. Our teens are the same age. Our ex-husbands remarried ages ago. And we've both known the worries of single parenting following layoff.
But the commonalities end there. Her ex lives nearby. Co-parenting isn't perfect but it goes reasonably well. And then I mentioned men.
"Do you date?" I asked.
She was quiet for a moment.
"The three of us work," she said, explaining that she and her daughters form a cohesive family unit. "I never wanted to bring someone else into that mix, and throw things off."
I nodded in agreement. My children were little when I divorced, as were hers. For me, while divorce was about one man and not all men, parading potential partners in and out of the house was out of the question. I had a neighbor who did exactly that -- she was the proverbial revolving door. I applauded her ability to keep putting herself out there, but I watched with dismay as her roller coaster social life took its toll on her kids. I didn't want that for my boys, or for myself.
I didn't retreat to a cave or a convent, mind you. But I took my time. And when I was ready, I plunged (discreetly) into the online dating pool and coffee dated until I thought I'd float away on a sea of caffeine. Eventually I let down my guard, and even fell in love. While it didn't last, it was an important step -- and a healing one.
As for my friend, she qualified her response and said: "I'm content not dating. I really don't miss men."
And that one caught me by surprise.
I admit that circumstances have made socializing difficult for me these past few years, and I may have missed my window of womanly marketability. But accept post-marital spinsterhood? Permanently? Willingly?
I studied her expression, and she wasn't kidding. I was baffled, and envious. Life would be simpler if I felt that way, but I don't. Flirtation? I adore it. Sexual appetite? It doesn't disappear at 40 or 50 or any other specific age, though we can successfully shelve it for a time. As for the desire to love, to respect, to trust -- does that ever lose its appeal?
I realize that I'm no Charlotte. I'm "enough," and not. I may be content, but I miss having a man not only in my bed, but in my head -- and in my life.
What about you? Are you enough?