As many of you are aware, I grew up out West in a fairly small town and most of the people who I grew up with have stayed within 125 miles of home. So when I go home for vacation, I see a lot of the people who I knew in high school and before. But it wasn’t until this last trip home that something occurred to me, I’m one of the last three who aren’t married with children.
At 28, most of my former classmates are on their second child. A few are even on their second marriage. They all seem so grown up with their strollers and their mortgage payments, while I, the independent, Big City single girl am asked over and over again when I intend to move home and have babies.
Frankly, I’m not convinced that I want to do either.
It’s funny how geography can change your perspective on something. Working on the Hill and living in D.C., I rarely think about the fact that I’m almost 30-years-old and single. No one in D.C. has ever asked me when I’ll be ready to get married or suggested that I’m some sort of mutant because no one has put a ring on it. But when I’m home, the revelation that I’m not married usually yields a quizzical look followed by one of two questions, “Why not?” or “Well, you probably have a boyfriend, right?”
I never feel pressure to date, marry or have babies when I’m in D.C., but when I’m home, I feel like I’ve failed in some way. Like everything else that I’ve accomplished means little to my former classmates most of whom have a gaggle of children with odd or oddly-spelled names to coo over and husbands to complain about. In my hometown, there is only one path and that path leads to marriage and children, though not always in that order.
As a result of this geographic relativity, it’s almost like time passes more slowly in D.C. Here I still feel “on track,” never left behind. But at home, I feel like Peter Pan lost in a world where everyone else grew up and I ran away to Neverland. And I can’t be the only person who feels this way, certainly some other Washingtonians have noticed that it’s more acceptable to be single at 35 in D.C. than it would be most anywhere else.
In my office, where the average age is 27, only two out of ten employees are married and only two more are in relationships. Among my immediate friend group, the average age is 32, but only one out of six of us is married and one is engaged. This certainly wouldn’t be the case out West or maybe even just down the road in middle Virginia.
Does it seem to you like expectations are different in D.C. with regards to marriage and children? And how do you explain to friends and family living elsewhere that being single at this age or that just isn’t such a big deal here? And for those of you living elsewhere, do you think expectations are different where you live than they are where you grew up?