Note: for people who care, this happened motzai Shobbos. Note for people using RSS feed readers: this was removed, revised, and reposted.
My little sister had a nightmare. Or anyway, she hopes it was a nightmare. Last night I took her out to practice driving whereupon she recalled her “nightmare” and started freaking out at me. “Did I ask you a really mean question a few days ago?” she asked. “I mean like really personal? Like about engagements? I hope so—I mean, I don’t hope so, but if I asked anyone I hope it was you. Ohmigosh, I hope I didn’t ask Devorah. I really, really hope I didn’t ask her. I can’t believe—what was I thinking—“
While she’s letting off steam through her mouth I’m drumming my fingers impatiently on the armrest and interrupting whenever she pauses for a breath with, “So what was the question?!”
“Sooo insensitive, I can’t imagine what possessed me—“
“I hate sensitive people,” I snapped at her. “We’re not dying, we’re just temporarily non-spoused. So stop hyperventilating and tell me the question already.”
She did. The question was, “When someone gets engaged are you happy for them or do you think ‘I wish it was me’?”
Well, the immediate reaction to that is “No way” of course. But I figured after all that fuss she deserved a serious answer, so I mulled it over a bit more. On the one hand, there’s a bit of a twinge when a friend gets paired off first and you wonder why you’re less matchable than they are. At the same time, I can’t say I’ve ever felt “left behind.” I imagine “left behind” requires the majority of people to be moved ahead, but there are so many singles to hang out with that I really don’t feel that way. If anything, I wonder if my poor married friends feel “left ahead.”
Then there’s the fact that most of my friends take the shidduch parsha much more to heart than I do. So I’m honestly glad it’s me being “left behind” and not they. I can take another few years of this shidduch dating before I start mumbling to myself on street corners and prophesizing that the end is nigh (hm. Maybe that’s what happened to Al Gore?). But people who take every disappointment as a crushing blow would be flat as paper dolls before their second “parsha” anniversary.
And then there’s the bittersweet knowledge that it’s never going to be quite the same again, once they move to some town with cheaper rent and can’t go anywhere without lugging their husband along, or at least his presence.
“When someone gets engaged it kind of reminds you that you’re trying to do that too,” I mused, while my sister did some exemplary driving. “And it makes you wonder ‘so when is it my turn?’ But it’s not jealousy. It’s just pure desire.”
And then she cut off a guy in the next lane and the discussion ended abruptly.