Isn't It Pretty To Think So?

Dispatches on life, love and the human condition by a wanderer and hopeful romantic

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Tonight I saw “Up in the Air,” a film that has left me a bit emotionally rattled.

The film is about a man who travels for a living, and about the toll it takes on his personal life.

In the film, the main character travels around firing people for a living. A bleak job, to be sure — but he enjoys it because it allows him to not have any personal “baggage,” so to speak.

He doesn’t have to be connected to anyone or any place permanently, and he’s happy to be that way and has even become a motivational speaker of sorts advocating this lone-wolf philosophy.

But then he meets someone that he begins to fall for, which leads him to question the way he’s been living his life.

I won’t say any more about it, but I will say what could have been a typical Hollywood-ending type of film really surprised me in the realistic way it handled its material.

The film, among other things, has really gotten me thinking about what it means to be single — and not just unmarried, but really and truly single, as in living alone without a partner.

The traveling element of the film is also relevant to me right now as I consider my next move — whether to keep traveling or try to settle down in one place, whether that be New York or Portugal, for awhile.

Seeing the film was also a bit weird because someone I know co-wrote and co-performed a couple of songs in the film — and this someone and I were nearly-but-not-quite involved personally for a very short time last spring.

The whole situation at the time was a disappointment to me because I actually really liked him, but to him, in the end, I was a fling.

I still see him around sometimes when I’m in Brooklyn, and we’re on civil terms now. But the rejection I felt is still there sometimes in the background. (For the record, the songs in the film are really beautiful and fit perfectly, and I’m actually happy for his success despite our history.)

So within the context of a film about someone who lives a solitary life in which he travels all the time, I — a single woman of 38 who has spent a good part of 2009 traveling myself — was reminded of one of my very own romantic disappointments.

And as I watched this character grapple with his own decision to live his life alone without personal attachments, I began to wonder about my own relationship status, or lack thereof.

The other day when I had to choose security questions to sign in to an online banking site, several of them had to do with a spouse.

“What is your spouse’s name?” and “Where was your spouse born?” were a couple of options I could have chosen as my security questions to back up my password on the site.

It struck me as a tad presumptuous to assume that everyone wanting to set up an ID and password on the site would have a spouse, and I had a fleeting moment when I felt a little sad about it.

Having lived as a single person for some time, I know I’m certainly not the only person in the world living alone in my late 30s or beyond. And some of the people doing so actually do it as a conscious choice, and say they prefer life that way.

However, I’m not one of those people. I would rather be with someone than single — but not just any someone, the “right” someone, whatever that means. For whatever reason, I haven’t figured out that part of my life yet.

And sometimes I wonder what is wrong with me that I am this age and not just unmarried and unpartnered, but have never been married.

I wonder how — when so many people can make a long-term relationship work, even if it’s not one that ends in matrimony — my last significant relationship officially ended three and a half years ago.

It’s not going to do a whole lot of good to dwell on my single status, and I have a lot of love in my life thanks to my family and good friends. I am not lacking for love or company, and I feel blessed and lucky to have all that I have.

But both the film and the incident of the spousal security questions suggested that I might be missing something unless I have that one person in my life who is committed to me, who is there to watch my back as I watch his, who chooses to go through life by my side.

These days I am mostly happy with my life. And why shouldn’t I be? By anyone’s standards, it’s a charmed one.

But I would be lying if I said that I didn’t often feel that there is something missing.

And tonight, after seeing that film, I am wondering if the decisions I’ve made and continue to make about how I live my life — to keep moving forward, always moving without looking back — has kept me from filling in that blank.

Author: elizabethmontalbano

I am a writer, photographer, lover, fighter, traveler and bon vivant currently residing in southwest Portugal.

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