Bachelorhood

I’m a bachelor, and in many ways a classic bachelor. For most of my adult life I’ve chosen, surreptitiously, to be a single man. It’s not that I shunned female company – just the opposite. And it’s not as if my sense of independence was so overwhelming as to preclude a relationship. I’m independent, sure, but I always expected, indeed hoped for, that fulfilling, lifelong relationship. Just not yet.

It’s important to understand that I never chose to be a bachelor. It was outcome, rather than the intention. There was so much I wanted to do, so much I wanted to be that being in a meaningful relationship was always difficult. I loved to travel, and made a point of a foreign excursion every year, for years on end. At times I chose to be irresponsible – and by that I mean I went out of my way to experience the interesting or challenging, rather than the sensible and conservative. I loved the high life, and am typical of many of my generation in that I’d spend big on all the best things in life, live big, work hard and play hard and damn the torpedoes.

In recent years you’ll find me a lot more wistful. Life is pretty much an exercise in opportunity cost. Every day we’re forced to choose between competing options. For the most part they’re small time- donut or muffin? Sometimes though they’re big, and they’re choices we make without really knowing it.

That’s been the case with me. Presented with a fork in the road I blithely continued the way I was going. Years later that fork is far behind me, and the life I might have led had I gone the other way no more than a matter of speculation. This is something that has preyed on my mind more and more in recent years.

I’m not a big one for regrets. You make your choices, cop the consequences, and move on. It’s a practical viewpoint more than anything else. I can’t go back and change things, so why worry about what might have been? All the same I’m prone to experience the same grass is greener syndrome as most people. I have this: what if I had that? So it is for me. Having led a full and fun life as a bachelor I hunger now for all that I chose to forgo. I’m at an age now, and a stage of my life, when the thought of settling down with someone I love deeply is fantastically alluring.

I can’t do that though. Not yet anyway. I can’t commit to anyone unless I have my affairs in order. It weighs on me. When I find that person I want to be able to commit 100% to them, without any unresolved issues holding me back. I’m proud, and I’m also very self-abnegating in this way. I’d rather struggle alone going my way, than to burden that special other with my problems. My affairs are a long, long way from being tidied up. I have to believe the day will come when I can release myself from these mental shackles, but it won’t be next week.

The other thing is that I really am a bachelor. I live like a bachelor, I think and hunger like a bachelor. I was called a modern day buccaneer a couple of weeks ago, and before that a viking, and notably earlier in the year, a warrior god (a description you don’t quite know how to respond to). All these women commenting on my masculine qualities. I am independepent, in thought, deed and action. It’s my default mode. I still love the good things in life, though I indulge in them less. I flirt like a gigolo and swagger like a king. I’ll argue for the fun of it, content to go exactly my way, with little deference to anyone else. I have bachelor habits.

This week is a good example of that. The other night I’m watching TV on the couch with Rigby (instead of the girl) snuggled up to me, asleep. I was watching Ray Donovan (incidentally, one of my favourite programs on TV) and yearned for a big glass of scotch. Not wanting to disturb Rigby I sat there until he woke and moved away, whereupon I slopped a goodly portion of very good duty free scotch into a glass and sipped it until going to bed.

Next morning I woke with the scotch glass on the bedside table with a finger of scotch left in it. I made my coffee, returned to bed, and gulped down the scotch before setting about my latte.

The other night I went to a networking event, which are generally dreary in my experience. There were no great highlights on this occasion either, except that I ended up at home with a twice married property manager from Brighton. Then there was Nicky, the English girl. We flirted some, did some ‘heavy petting’ as they say in the classics, and that was it, a passing episode I’ll have forgotten in a few weeks time.

In a typically curly episode one of the receptionists from the shop, a quirky, forthright girl, boldly admitted that she was obsessed by me – her words. It was intended to be provocative, but being the vain male I am I happily lapped it up while giving nothing way. Long way short of perfect, but once more indicative of the tumult of moments that weekly occur.

While I’m single still, that bachelor I describe, I’m happy to live that way – a man’s not a camel after all. It’s what I need to keep me sane while I’m by myself alone, but it’s not what I want.

We are different things, and identity forever a shifting paradox. I have in me the hard driving, ultra competitive man of destiny, wanting, needing to make a difference – not just to make the difference, but needing to win, to triumph, ultimately, to validate that self. Then there is that me who sees that very clearly and never loses sight of it – and chooses to let it be. Boys will be boys, and besides, it’s so much fun. There is that part of me that periodically yearns for almost the complete opposite, a life away from the bright lights and constant battle, a life centred more upon contemplation, reflection, understanding. I see myself on a piece of land walking the dog, growing vegies in the garden, writing in my study, sharing my life with another. There is the world of ideas that in some ways marries back to that competitive self – I’m incapable of not having an opinion. Still, I believe in that, believe that as human beings there is no room to shrug your shoulders at passing events or being uninvolved. To be anything less than passionate seems a waste of breath. And of course there is the sensuous pleasure lover, food , drink, women, taking carnal and physical delight in being fucking alive.

Being a bachelor is a state I presently reside in. It may be habits and attitude, but it is not a condition – well, not in my case anyway. If you consider that life is a transitional journey then we go through different states at different times. This is where I am now and, in some way or another, have been for a while. I wander if I have yet to properly achieve that synthesis of different selves – one self with different facets, rather than separate selves in the one package. And then I wonder if that is what happens. Is synthesis of self a true and practical possibility? I don’t know because I’ve never done this before (to my knowledge), and continue to learn as I go along. We live, learn from our mistakes if we’re lucky, and write about them in our blog.

Fact is I don’t know what’s going to happen next week, let alone my life’s destiny. Right now I’m this, and this is my life; in time, hopefully, the time will be right to reform my bachelor ways and become the loving partner and true friend I’m overdue to be.

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