I haven’t been in a serious relationship with something besides a bread recipe or tv series in eight years, so I’d consider myself pretty professionally single. Fun fact – when I worked at the Santa Barbara Independent, I had a weekly column titled “Young, Single, and (Un)Professional” that actually led to a horrendous blind date, with an original poem, and ended with me sneaking out the back of a restaurant, something I thought only happened in movies. But I digress.
There have been moments in my life where I really wanted to be with someone – most recently when I had to lift my suitcase up above my closet, again when a cockroach ran at me from under a plant pot, and then when I had to choose what movie to immediately fall asleep to – but I have to thank the pandemic for helping me learn how to be alone but not lonely. To really enjoy my time in my own space. Maybe almost too much.
The pandemic has also led me to spend a LOT of time with dating apps and let me tell you . . . most men are not trying very hard in Hong Kong. And I am worth an effort. And so I will stay in my single lane. I will be the hot, rich, well-traveled auntie until further notice. Send me your address – I got a postcard for you.
While I continue navigating the river of life alone, it’s useful and compelling to remember all the GREAT things about being single. For example, as you all know, T Swift just released a new album (happy Midnights to all who celebrate), and as a single person who has had her heart broken a million times through real relationships and hypothetical ones I create after just a few text messages on Tinder, I can really understand her lyrics on a much deeper level than I’m sure any of you happily married people can. Same with Adele’s lyrics. When I belt those out in the shower, I am positive it enters the universe in more profound vibrations than when my suburban soccer mom of three hums along in her Honda CR-V during pick-up.
I can also sleep and eat when and where and how I want to. This is often to my detriment – I was recently lamenting to my friends that when I open a pack of chips, there is no one in my house to share them or shame me into not finishing the entire bag. But it’s also nice to not have to ask anyone what they feel like eating for dinner every night. That leaves me free to consider cottage cheese straight out the container a full meal. And use crackers instead of spoons. #TeamWashNoDishes
I also love sleeping alone. If I met someone and we got married and lived together . . . like I currently have six pillows on my bed and need all of them, so what’s he going to do? And I need a very specific track of ocean waves on my white noise machine, and enjoy shredded cheese as a midnight snack and often wake myself up talking loudly about being chased by a bear, so like – where does this guy even fit in with that?
I was most recently super grateful to be single when Hong Kong FINALLY lifted hotel quarantine upon arrival, and without consulting anyone, on a Saturday I had to be at work so was grumpy and itching to spend money on myself to solve it, I spontaneously booked a trip to Thailand. As one does.
Two friends came with me to Koh Samui, where I have (ironically) been before to attend a wedding. We chose to stay at an adults only resort and it was divine. I find nothing ruins a relaxing tropical vacation quicker than kids screaming and splashing in a pool. There was none of that. There were several men with iguanas they wanted us to hold for money. But no kids.
We loved walking around Chaweng without a mask, waking up early on our teacher schedules to grab loungers by the pool slash beach, bronze until the afternoon rains, the only exercise raising our hands to ask for a refill or a snack. I read four books in the six days we were there. We took bubble baths, watched fire shows, played cards, got foot massages, and sang along to epic drag show performances. We made friends with strangers like backpacker hostel days, playing pool tournaments, ordering buckets of beer, over-explaining card games to each other and sharing hookah and travel stories.
One of the biggest reasons it was so nice is that it was somewhere different. None of us moved to Hong Kong to live in Hong Kong . . . we love it here but we came for great paying teaching jobs with long weekends and an international airport – not to live confined to our tiny apartments in the worst of Covid times and then just 400 square miles of concrete and skyscrapers during the best of pandemic rule. But travel has been closed for the last 2.5 years as we have the strictest Covid policies in the world, next to China. To be able to travel again . . . it almost felt illegal to be riding the airport express train, checking in luggage, having the traditional glass of wine before boarding, and then heading to a different country to get a passport stamp and a tan and come home with stories and new friends we’ll follow on instagram forever but never see again.
Meeting new people meant that despite how rusty I felt and the fact I was wearing Tevas and a poncho most of the week, I got to flirt for the first time in a long time. Got to feel that unique spark of “maybe” potential when locking eyes with a stranger, and then let that handsome stranger sit at our table, buy me drinks, link arms and laugh at me while I sang along loudly to the “Frozen” covers at a drag show. We’ve texted a bit but probably never will again and that’s okay. For the first time in years, I felt pretty and wanted. Godspeed, Dude from the Ark bar.
The list of things that are BLESSED about being single goes on and on, but the last thing I’ll mention here that I’m grateful for, being a single person, is that I can be totally happy for your circumstances, even when I wouldn’t choose them for myself, don’t personally understand them, might not ever experience them, might be jealous of them.
I hope you all can do the same for me. For your costume and Tevas wearing, baked goods obsessed, “I’ve got something in my purse for that,” never-says-no Rachel. :) I hope you can do it for me.
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