I woke up one day and realized that everyone around me had settled down and gotten married.
I was never one of those girls who dreamed about her wedding day. I always assumed it would happen eventually, but it certainly wasn't a big life priority of mine.
I had other things I wanted to accomplish: Places I wanted to see, goals I wanted to achieve, and a long list of boys (and men) who I knew had no long-term potential, but who I wanted to make out with anyway.
And then, I woke up one day and realized that everyone around me had settled down and gotten married — while I was 32 years old and had never been in a relationship lasting longer than six months.
Oops. I missed my soul mate window.
I'm not sure how this snuck up on me. I swear, I always thought I had plenty of time. But the truth is, I wasn't even kind of open to anything real until my mid-twenties.
While all my friends were experiencing their first loves (and heartbreaks) in their teen years, I was chasing after my best guy friend and intentionally dating boys I knew were assh*les, mostly because I felt like they required a whole lot less of me than a real relationship ever would.
I was 25 before I ever really fell in love, and my lack of relationship experience meant that pairing was pretty much doomed from the start.
The first one was 8 years older than me, and had a divorce and two kids under his belt already. We were just at different life stages, going into a relationship with a completely different understanding of what being in a relationship meant.
I'm the first to admit I screwed that one up. I had no idea how to fight in a relationship. No idea how to make up. No idea how to take these two separate personalities and make them work together.
The next time, I was ready. I met him at 28 and I fell head over heels. "This is the one," I thought. My happily ever after.
Unfortunately, he was recently divorced and a total head case as a result. It didn't matter how good we were together; timing is everything, and our timing was all off.
I needed space to heal after that relationship, and was closed off to anything real for quite a while after it ended. Then, by the time I started to feel ready to open myself up again, life threw me for another loop.
A little girl was dropped into my lap, and I became a mother through a very unusual set of circumstances. It was an infant adoption I hadn't been looking for, but that turned out to be the very best thing to ever happen to me.
I was a single mother by 30, and a woman who suddenly had no time for dating at all.
Now I look around at all my friends and realize that most everyone I know is married. They've all found their "one," while I'm left thinking I must have somehow missed the boat.
It doesn't help that I live in Alaska, where most people just seem to get married sooner than they do in other regions. Which leaves me basically waiting for the next round of divorces, as morbid a view of dating as there ever has been.
As happy as I am with my life just as it is today, I can't help but wonder if being a late relationship bloomer might just mean that real relationships will forever evade me now.
Is there a soul mate window? And if so, what happens if you miss it?
It's been so long since I met a man I might actually be interested in, I can't even remember what that must feel like anymore. Any time I detect even a hint of a spark these days, my eyes always wander quickly to that ring finger. And I'm always disappointed.
Still, looking back, I can't imagine myself married to any of the men from my past. There were some good ones in there, but none that I could picture myself with for the next 50+ years.
So, maybe I didn't miss my window after all. Maybe he's still out there, too, with a long list of reasons why he hasn't yet settled down himself.
Or perhaps there's no such thing — not of a soul mate, or a soul mate window. And maybe I'll be one of those women who happily transitions into spinsterhood, forever holding out for the type of love that doesn't actually exist anywhere but fairytales.
I'm strangely OK with that, which is perhaps one more reason I'm in the predicament I'm in today.
The lone single girl, surrounded by an entourage of married friends.
Just outside her window, thinking the boat may very well have been missed.