I wrote a little something once about being single. And it went something like this…
I love an unexpected treasure, and I was gifted with one this past weekend. The movie Australia was playing on TV. I know it received poor reviews, but I absolutely loved it. It might be the scenery or maybe Hugh Jackman. But I really just think it was the story. I love stories, and this one was such a great one. So when I saw it as I was scrolling through the TV listings, I was like a kid on Christmas. And what luck, it had just started! So I proceeded to spend the next three and a half hours on the couch.
Inevitably, during that three and a half hours, I began to cry. It’s just what I do. Have movie, will cry. (I even cried in a preview when I was at the movies a few weeks ago. A preview.) The tears started spilling during the part when Nullah is being shipped off to Mission Island, and he says, “I sing you to me, Mrs. Boss.” And then the Nicole Kidman character says, “And I will hear you.” Of course it was sad because the two were being separated and there was all that dramatic music in the background. But slowly the tears for Nullah morphed into a sadness about my own life. In that moment on the couch alone in my singleton’s condo, it was so painfully clear that I have no one’s singing to hear. There’s no one who’s going to sing me to him. No one at all. And, oh, how awful that feels.
And it just got worse.
I got up to get a tissue and clean away all my blubbering, but I guess the tears must have caused temporary blindness because I ran into the corner of the bookcase and dropped my coffee mug on the nearby kitchen floor (empty, thank goodness). And it shattered. Into lots of pieces, big and small. It was one of my favorite mugs. And almost like I couldn’t believe it was truly broken, I got down on my hands and knees to pick up the pieces, perhaps hoping that some sort of magic would whisk them all back together. It didn’t. And so I just sat there, amidst all the pieces staring in disbelief. And sitting there on the floor brought me back to another time when something similar had happened.
When I was twelve, a cereal bowl slipped from my little hands and shattered on the kitchen floor. I knew my parents were going to yell at me. I cried immediately, maybe even before the last piece settled somewhere in one of the dusty corners. I didn’t notice how many pieces there were or what shape they were or how far they scattered. The thought that I would be in trouble consumed me, and I wanted only to forget my mistake. The tears must have worked back then since no one yelled at me. I got a hug and my mom told me it was okay. The tears stopped.
And like that cereal bowl, my mug also slipped from my hands, now bigger yet still smallish and then smashed into pieces on the kitchen floor of my condo. This time I didn’t cry, though. It wasn’t that I knew my parents were not there to yell at me or that I didn’t know it was a mistake: I was just too tired to cry anymore. Instead, down there on the floor, I took notice of all the different ceramic fragments that were spread across the floor. The mug had been attractive. It was decorated with a yellow four-leaf clover, a green tulip, a purple heart, two small black swirls like the cinnamon in a breakfast roll, and two red dots on either side of the handle. This eclectic family of objects somehow formed a picture of autumn warmth that wrapped around the mug like a blanket. I could not help but want to pour the coffee in it in the mornings or put the tea bag in it at night and sit wrapped up in my grandmother’s handmade quilt.
But then, down on my hands and knees, looking at the pieces, I saw that the clover and the leaf and the tulip each broke into several pieces and the scattering of purple pieces was now unrecognizable as a heart. Some of the mug was still in chunks, but they were just the plain white sections of the mug. It seemed that the important places on the mug were the ones that shattered into tiny chips. And I wondered why that was, that it was the important things that seemed to be most easily destroyed. Out of curiosity, I dropped one of the pieces and broke it again. I wondered how many more times it would keep breaking or if there was a point when the pieces would be so broken that they just wouldn’t break anymore.
The more I held those severed pieces in my hand, the more the mug became ugly. The clover, the heart, the tulip, they were all wrong, the wrong colors and the wrong shapes. I had though being different made them special, but really it was just an ugly mug that had been on sale because no one else had wanted it in the middle of spring. And that’s when I just started to cry my Nullah tears all over again. How could I have been so foolish? I sat there and cried, surrounded by the broken pieces of that ugly mug. I cried with no one to hug me or tell me it was okay, with no one to tell me he’d sing me to him.
I always thought that everything would be okay. The pieces of my life were supposed to fit in a way so it would all work out. The life that these pieces formed may not be beautiful and perfect, but it would be attractive and warm. But somewhere in my twenties–through all the wishful make-uping and broken hearts and already-broken broken hearts—and in my thirties–with the advent of web-ordered dating—that hope-filled vision of Okay disappeared. And what now? Because I’m still here. I’m okay on the outside, where people can see without looking, but everything is not always okay on the inside, where people cannot see without looking. Because I have been shattered. And I wonder if I will be wrong for the rest of my life. And I wonder if I’m forever going to be the ugly mug cast aside on the discount shelf because no one wanted her. And I wonder into how many more pieces can I break. Does it ever end? And if it did, would anyone sit on the floor among my pieces and cry at the beauty lost? Or would I just be forgotten even before my last piece settled somewhere in a distant corner?
Will there ever be someone to sing me to him? Because I want to hear him.