Originally posted 2016-07-01 12:00:29.
~ The Independent Woman ~
I am an independent woman, I don’t need you to hold the door!
I am an independent woman, I don’t need you to open the jar!
I am an independent woman, I don’t need your help to move!
I am an independent woman, I don’t need you to change my tire!
I am an independent woman, I don’t need you to stand up for me!
I am an independent woman, I don’t need you to mow my lawn!
I am an independent woman, I don’t need….I don’t need… I don’t need….
It gets lonely. Not always, but there are days when I literally go hours without saying a word to anyone. Those hours grow longer as friends pair off, get married, have babies, and disappear. No one talks about the singletons left behind. The spinsters who hole up in their apartments with their cats. “But your life is exciting with social events and drinking late! Late for me is now 8:30 when I put the kids to bed and finally get to do the housework and laundry. I would kill for some quiet alone time.” My best friend, ladies and gentlemen. She doesn’t get it.
Doesn’t know what it’s like coming home, pretending to care about dinner, and waste the night watching Netflix and monitoring social media. Yes, I do go out. I play in a local orchestra, I attend events and hike with friends when I fit into their schedules, and alone when I don’t. I see my sister, my parents, my cousins. “Oh, I can’t believe they promoted you to team leader already!” My sister says on the phone. “Your job must be so busy!” It is sometimes, but not enough. I still come home to my apartment and my cats. Alone.
“Why don’t you get a roommate?” My mom suggests, noticing that it had been a few weeks since I called her. I don’t know where the time went. Into my routine: gym, job, food, orchestra practice, netflix, sleep… repeat. I’ve tried roommates. But they only add stress. They can be messier than me, more social than me, constantly bringing a significant other over, or holing themselves up in their room. Besides, I don’t like practicing in front of people.
“Have you joined a church?” My grandmother asks. Always. I thought about it, but the churches around here are either populated with the older generation or so fundamentalist crazy that I get dirty looks when I say the word “evolution”. I can’t handle it. Can’t handle them. I’m a strong independent woman, I don’t need God and religion telling me to be submissive and subservient.
I start going out on my own. Wearing jeans and nice shirts or sometimes dresses, always with perfect make up, my only vice. I start frequenting Karaoke nights,Trivia games, pool tournaments. Guys try to talk to me, seeing me alone. But the strong independent woman doesn’t stay with anyone for too long. They try to buy me a drink, they’re automatically disqualified. They try to compliment me on my hair or dress… “Damn girl, you look fine!”… no thank-you. I don’t need your harassment to feel good about myself.
“It’s dangerous to go alone,” a cop friend routinely cautions. Not for me. I have mace, I know not to be stupid. Doesn’t stop some drunken idiot from harassing me outside the bar, trying to corner me. Nothing outside of the ordinary. Some freak sees us and comes over to intervene. “Are you ok?” he asks.
”What?” I respond, who the hell is this guy? Another white knight, probably wants to ‘save’ me to get in my pants later. “I don’t need you.” He shrugs before walking away. I think back to Megara: “I am a damsel. I’m in distress. I can handle it.”
And I do, without even using my mace. I get away, back to my apartment.
It’s not that I like being alone, but I don’t need a guy who just wants to fuck me. Even Meg took on a guy in the end, a jock with burly arms. That’s why I liked Merida, until Disney made her all pretty princessy.
Some of my friends get it. But even the best of them have slowly turned to a life with their partners. My allies, my mentors, my inspirations have succumbed to the role of the wife, to mother, or worse: housewife. Their facebooks full of happy pictures. Engagements, weddings, honeymoons, houses, kids… leaving me behind unless it is time for a wedding or baby shower. Horrible affairs of compulsory gift-buying and too many traditional females. Not the place for me. If for some reason I do get married, I won’t need gifts or a huge ceremony.
You know where I don’t feel lonely? Orchestra. Go. Play. Come home refreshed with good music and the sound of applause. They accept me for being the independent woman. No one asks to carry my cello for me or put away my music stand. “You’ve beat them all into submission!” my stand partner jokes. She’s getting married to the timpani player. A few members of the orchestra are playing at her wedding. The first chair violin, a quiet man who is brilliant but a little quirky, and the first chair cellist, a self-proclaimed supermom named Shelly.
Two weeks before, I get a phone call. “Shelly’s not able to play! Her kid’s soccer team made playoffs and she’ll be out of town! I don’t know what to do. Can you take her place? I know you already RSVP’D ‘no’, but I figured that’s cause you hate weddings.” Hate weddings? I could argue, but it was fair. “I can e-mail you the sheet music and you can practice with Oscar. Please, will you do this for me?”
“Of course I can,” I answer automatically. It’s playing my cello, for a friend. Even if she’s going down a dark path of matrimony.
“You’re a life saver. Thank-you!” I don’t need her thanks, just the sheet music.
The week of the wedding, I get a call at work, this time from an unknown number. “Hi, it’s Oscar, Shelly gave me your number.”
“Hello,” I answer formally.
“Would you possibly be available to practice with me before Orchestra tonight?”
“I’ve been practicing on my own and listening to recordings and I think I have the music down.” He probably thinks I’m not good enough to play it right. Asshole. “I don’t need extra practice.”
Oscar is quiet for a moment. “I understand that, but I need to practice a few selections because I do not have access to the recordings and I need to know what it’ll sound like from your cello.”
“You have the internet, look it up on youtube.” It’s what I did.
“They don’t have the specific arrangement we are playing. Please, I know we don’t know each other well, but I’d really appreciate if you’d do this with me. It’ll help us prepare for Saturday. I wouldn’t be able to look Crystal and Tim in the eye if we ruin their wedding day.”
Yes. Her special fucking day. I hate weddings. I stayed quiet as Oscar continues.
“Besides, you and I both know that you cannot play a duet alone. Playing with a recording skews the balance in favor of one instrument. We must get used to hearing it in person for it to come together.”
I’m a talented independent woman, I can play just as well today as I will on Saturday. His statement about balance was nonsense, I practiced orchestra music all the time with recordings. “Let’s get this straight, I don’t need your help, Oscar, I know how to play a duet.”
“I didn’t imagine that you would. When Shelly told me you’d be replacing her I was relieved to be working with someone as talented as you. Anyone else in your section would have made me nervous and I would have needed more than one practice session.”
Silence in my brain, in my mouth. I don’t have a response. He is doing this out of respect, out of recognizing that we’d be playing for a friend and everyone important in her life, and wanting for us to do the best we can.
“So, um,” he sounds flustered. “Could you to be at orchestra practice by six so that we can prepare for Saturday.”
“Sure, I’ll be there.” I answered, my voice sounded strange, off guard. You should apologize. It was time to hang up the phone.
I’m a strong independent woman, but I cannot play a duet alone.