I’ve been doing a lot of hard thinking recently. Many things have coincided at inconvenient times and i’ve been forced to sort through them all at once. It started with me opening the door to the idea of bringing someone to visit my land. He was kind and gentle natured and seemed interested in my way of life and so a thought emerged that maybe i would let another human step foot into my private utopia away from humans just for a visit maybe once in the future. Of course this would be far into the future but it was a thought that emerged. I let it lie there. I didnt even let my close friends step foot on the land as it was my private space away from humans and i preferred the company of animals and trees, so it was a strange thought and i assumed there was a chance it would pass. At this same time i was working on a family tree. I was beyond frustrated because there was just no information to be had on one branch of the tree. After two generations there was nothing. I wondered how a whole branch of family could cease to exist and it scared me. Was i going to be forgotten entirely once i was dead? I felt a need to know about these people that had once existed, even though most of them were strangers to me, so that they would still exist in someone’s mind or in photographs or immigration records. The notion that these characters i couldn’t find had just poofed into the ether seemed very final and punishing. Who would remember them? Who would remember my sister and i when we were gone? Who would know anything about us? I wanted to know about them. I stayed up all hours of the night researching and following leads, trying to sort through what applied to me and what didnt, who was my relative and who was someone else’s with the same name. It was an endless rabbit hole. One piece of information led to another and i’d be up until sunrise easily if i never left the computer and went to bed at a certain point. I stared at the faces of these people and wondered if i had inherited any of their features. I wondered who they were and what they were like. Who was a tomboy? Who was ladylike? Who was hard working? Who was a funny guy? I wondered what the birth certificates and death records couldn’t tell me. Who were they? I was envious of families with passed down stories or better records of the past. I tried to fit the puzzle pieces together and drink up what was there.
Those that had photographs seemed very virtuous and very serious. I knew that during their age it took a long time to take a photograph and so you had to sit very still and hold a pose for an extended time period. Due to this fact people rarely smiled because their mouth would end up blurred as the smile faded over time. I wondered if they were serious people or just looked serious due to the photograph. I wondered what they looked like when they were smiling. I went through all the records and made profiles for all of their children. Some people had two children. Some people had none. Some people had twelve. I wondered how those with large families fed all those children. I studied their clothes, their jewelry, the old buttons, the hair… they were mysterious and beautiful strangers i wished to know about. With each marriage record i added a new family name to the tree and included their branch. Each branch was drastically different. There were a lot of people listed as grocers on census documents for generations and generations back. I smiled as i realized my first as well as my most recent jobs had involved groceries. Groceries seemed to be a running theme in this family. Each time i added a new family to the tree i felt that their existence was retrieved. I wanted to retrieve all the people that had ever been connected to the family in any way and remember them. I knew on some level this was an impossible task and i would drive myself insane but once i’ve set my mind to something its best to just let it run its course.
I was a very busy bee. I was writing a couple books. I was blogging. I was working on this family tree. i was doing several projects around the homestead. I was going to Friday Group, trying my hand at this thing called socialization. In the middle of this someone who had been paying me attention began to ask questions about my life like who i was, why i worked so hard, and how old i was. I answered each question truthfully without thought but i knew i had no intention of changing my operation in life for another human. I am where i want to be doing what i want to do. Still, the kindness was not unappreciated. I began to entertain the idea that companionship might not be all bad. That bubble was promptly busted when our mutual friend began auditioning me for a role i had not applied for. He began auditioning me for the role of a wife. How old was i? Could i cook? What kinds of things did i cook? Would people consider me a good cook? Did i keep a good house? Did i want to be married? Am i in the market for a husband? I said no. I said that i was too stubborn for a husband. This seemed to be an incorrect answer because he just asked the question repeatedly as if i’d answer differently a second or third time. I resented this interrogation, like i had to prove my worth in the middle of my work run. I did not ask to be anyone’s wife and did not understand why he felt the need to conduct such an audition. It turned out he was going to make sure that i wouldn’t be a bad decision for his friend. Once he realized i was 33 he spent the next 4 hours of our shift stating loudly and repeatedly, “i can’t believe you’re 33! That’s crazy old! I seriously thought you were 17!” He said, “i’m gonna tell everyone you’re 33!” He then felt the urge to tell me that if i still needed a husband in 50 years he’d marry me. I was not the type of person that would view this as a favor. I was not desperate for a husband and was not the type to change my whole operation in life for anything less than a puzzle piece perfect fit. I wondered why he expected me to view this as a favor. I felt this kind of “settling” was infuriating and wanted no part of it. I was insulted and mad and getting rather annoyed that he kept announcing my age to all the customers who didnt understand why it was important for them to know i was 33. I thought of the family tree and all the spouses and children listed there and suddenly it didnt seem so important for me to contribute to it in any way. I had looked at all the black and white images of mothers holding their children still for the camera and posing in front of a house or around a chair and lamented that my infertility would keep me from ever contributing to the tree in such a way as they had. I would never be responsible for adding a new name under mine. Now i had a completely different feeling; one of relief. All that marriage business was likely fine for them. We probably dont share much in common; those beautiful black and white faces and i. I think such a thing would pose a very real threat of suffocating me. I pursed my lips and stared at the man flailing hands and announcing my age for the fourth hour, a man i had considered a friend and up until 4 hours ago respected greatly. Perhaps i would just be the rememberer. I would write down everybody and that would be my contribution. i decided i had been single for 9 years for a reason. He was right. Amongst my population of coworkers, i was old. I only cooked vegan or pescatarian food. I did not keep an especially clean house. I dont wait on partners hand and foot and if you’re grown and i’ve worked all day, i expect you can feed yourself. Im not the best candidate for a wife and what i wont do is apologize for that. I am good at doing what im doing and it feeds my soul and so im not deviating from this purpose. Someone is welcome to coexist alongside me if they also like the wilderness and want to experience the same things im after but im not leaving the outdoors to cook their meals and starch their shirts. If they want to eat, they’ll eat what im having when i cook it or feed themselves. If they want starched shirts, they best learn to iron. For i wait on no one for the sake of being thought of as worthy. No one ever asked me if i was applying for the role i was auditioned for and nobody ever asked me what i was looking for in a husband. Nobody asked me what qualities in a companion were important to me, because that detail was not important to either the kind man or our ridiculous mutual friend. It is not thought of. The woman should be thankful that the man wants her and that is the end of the story. What rubbish. What pure and utter rubbish. I will leave marriage to others. The pursuit of such things is not for me.