I’ve always wanted a tattoo, but could never think of something of enough personal importance to merit a permanent mark on my body. So instead, I’ve taken to admiring other people’s tattoos in the hopes that maybe their stories and ideas will fuel some inspiration–not to mention guys with tattoos are kinda hot. Granted, the design and location of the tattoo can make or break that rule, but generally some visible ink on an arm or wrist is a plus in my book. So I had no hesitation saying yes to coffee with a new, tatted acquaintance. After going through the usual scripted small talk, I was asked that inevitable, deal breaking question.
“So, what are you looking for?”
Of course, what he really meant to ask was, “So, what are my prospects with you?” Per my New Year’s Resolutions post, they’re not so great, buddy.
I told him I wasn’t really looking for anything at the moment, hoping my tone was dismissive enough to extinguish any other burning inquiries into my personal life that he might have had. But what he asked next caught me off guard.
“Okay, so then…what are you looking forward to if romance isn’t in the picture?”
Reflexively, I took offense to the question. Excuse you, but there are plenty of things I’m looking forward to: traveling to HK and Singapore in a couple of months, seeing my family in the fall, getting my CNSC, ending this meet-up-turned-interrogation and getting the hell out of this stank ass coffee shop and away from you, the list could go on.
I have a knack for hurting people’s feelings, so we ended our chat cordially and parted ways before things boiled over. On the walk back to my apartment though, I couldn’t help but wonder: What am I looking forward to? Not just in the immediate future, but ten, thirty, fifty years down the road?
This was a question I had tried to tackle before, with close friends and innocent coffee shop strangers alike. If my parents weren’t so awkward over the fact that they have a gay son, I’d probably discuss it with them, too. (Come on guys, you’ve known for almost 8 years now. Get over it.) But I suppose I never really thought about it much until recently. After a pretty sour year of dating, romance was off the table for a while, that was for sure. I’m not exactly the most nurturing of guys, so children were never a serious consideration. And don’t even get me started with pets. So what was left?
Naturally, this train of thought led to some grim existential questions. Would I be alone forever? Would I die alone? Or perhaps more unsettling: is it okay to die alone? Though I’m privileged to live in an era of unprecedented progression, I feel like society is still leashed by the trappings of monogamy, traditional marriage, and childbearing. That’s not to say that any of those aspirations are a waste of time, but I don’t think they’re necessarily right for everyone (read: stony, selfish me). Still, a more conservative part of me wonders if there’s something wrong with my life’s current trajectory, one that doesn’t involve a diamond anniversary or a legacy that can be inherited by my grandchildren. In being comfortable with my solitude, do I in turn lose my dignity?
Like always, I shrug off the sinking feeling. Twenty-three is an awfully young age to contemplate the futility of a life unshaped by companionship or offspring, let alone to decide that dying alone is even a possibility. A thought for another time, I tell myself. So instead I find shelter in other subjects–the day’s to-do list, my loud neighbors downstairs, tonight’s dinner–and move on with my life. I turn the key to enter my empty apartment, let out a deep sigh, and close the door behind me.
Maybe I should finally get that tattoo I’ve always wanted. Across my chest, over my heart, perhaps.
Break only in case of emergency.