Shelter-in-place orders have had me starting all sorts of projects around my house. I’ve reorganized my pantry, I’ve thrown away expired cosmetics, I cleaned my shower. Last week I emptied out my “memory box” – the bin about the size of your average encyclopedia that I use to store apparently every thank you card I’ve ever received – on to my bedroom floor and started purging. I went encouraging letter by race bib by postcard and decided whether or not it was worth the space in my box, and really my heart. I have always been a sentimental person, and this is evidenced by the receipts, match boxes, and literal scraps of paper I have hoarded over the years.
Along with feelings of the past, these “memories” also brought back a flood of reminders of what I thought my life would one day be like. There are mementos from my time as a speech-pathology major, a half-marathon bib to remind me of the two weeks I thought I might actually run a full marathon, notes from a training from when I thought I would always work full-time in ministry.
There was also quite a bit of dare-I-say garbage from times I was sure, certain, I had found the man I would one day marry. I had found what was going to make all my dreams come true, I would never feel insecure or uncertain again, I was going to jump higher and farther. There’s a part of me that cringes at this, but there’s a stronger, more tender part that knows that twenty-year-old Katherine would have been so disappointed to find out that twenty-seven-year-old Katherine is still single (still unable to jump very high, though I can run far).
There are days that I’m still disappointed, but more often than not, I cherish my life. I have been able to make some really fun choices for myself. I have been able to provide for myself, and I can impulse buy jeans I don’t need, and no one can stop me. I can pick up and move across the country. I can go on some really fun dates. I can go on dates that later become running jokes with my friends. Oh my friends, I am so rich for the friendships that cultivated in my twenties.
More and more, I find myself looking to women that are single or got married later in life as role models. I find myself wanting a strong and healthy marriage more than just a cute “how he asked” story.
I still envy never having to look for a roommate again, and once a year, the tax credit. So often I just want a man that will take out the trash so I don’t have to. I want a guy who loves to drive, and who keeps making piles of clothes on the floor. Even now, when my love life feels like a non-essential business that is on lockdown.
But if I were to go back and sit down with the girl with the girl who practiced her first name with last names that were never hers, “you have no idea how great being single can be!” would take up the tiniest fraction of the conversation. I would tell her that she is stronger than she knows. I would tell her to take risks, instead of asking, “what if I fall?” suppose, “what if I fly?” I would tell her to calm down about a couple things. To maybe drink less chocolate milk to avoid that kidney stone senior year. I might suggest that she say “yes” to more experiences and “no” to more possessions. I would gently tell her that God really is worthy of her trust. I would tell her that I am proud of her, and that I know that she’s doing her best. And no matter if you’re sheltering by yourself, or with the love of your life, I would probably say the same to you.
About Katherine: If I were to start a cult disguised as a lifestyle program our main objectives would be finding the best soft pretzels in each United States city, fitness, bike rides that are slow enough that we can ride and sustain a conversation, telling people to calm down about the Enneagram, universal New York Times subscriptions, and sitting with my friends at church. I live in Kansas City.