Because I, too, am a single, childless, 30-something Filipina.
Apparently, most female authors (and more so than male ones, I’ve read) are asked if their work is autobiographical, so I may have just undermined Girl Power and all. (Sorry about that.) But aren’t you also supposed to write about what you know? And this is what I know: when it’s Christmas in the Philippines and you’re doing your rounds at reunions, these questions do not stop. They’re always escalating, like war, only your enemies are your shawl-wearing, leggings-loving, well-meaning aunts.
“Dating? Boyfriend? Husband? Child? Second child?” Old aunts’ questions are a reminder that my life is not up to spec when compared to their lives, or that of most friends. There’s a path, a pattern, a course—and I’ve deviated. (At least, that’s how they make it sound. And sometimes, make me feel.) In books, this straying from the herd is sorta-kinda nice and fun and adventurous—when the main character is in her 20s. But 30s? Rumor has it you’re supposed to have your shit together already.
Because the stakes seem to be higher when your joints hurt more.
The 40- and 50-something women are probably laughing at me right now. (“Oh, what a child.“) But I think that, when your shit isn’t together and it hits the fan in your 30s, things can get very bad. Train derailed, rug pulled. Compass gone, biological clock freaking out. When I was writing about the melancholy, there was a balance between humor and pathos that I kept trying to find. (The wine helped me spot a lot of route markers. I took Hemingway’s advice and rolled with it.) In your teens and 20s, breakups are all about The Drama. In your 30s, I think you have to laugh a bit, shrug a bit, breathe a bit, or your heart might literally give out.
Because single, 30-something women seem to be a bit underrepresented…
…though heaven knows there are a lot of us at christenings and children’s birthday parties. And at the infant section of department stores, trying to figure out what to get the mother-to-be.
Is it because people think our lives aren’t all that? But Kristin Newman rocked it, writing a book with a title that was so funny but I felt I couldn’t share with most of my married friends. (You know, the ones who say, “You’ll change your mind” when you say, “I’m not really sure I want a marriage, or children.”) Kate Bolick looked to the lives of famous poets and novelists—and her own—to examine the “carefully considered, passionately lived life” of a Spinster.
Okay. So maybe I’m not off gallivanting in South America every year, and you’re not writing your Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. So what, dear fellow Single 30-something Filipina? Collecting recipes from BuzzFeed Food, enjoying the comfort of your flat on a lazy Sunday afternoon and watching all seven seasons of Buffy, the Vampire Slayer again—these are all valid life choices, precisely because they’re yours. And mine.
Or maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough for stories about my kind of main character. Admittedly, I’ve only recently returned to the land of fiction. I spent way too much time reading about Jackie O. (Those pearls. That voice. Those clothes.) I mean, I only discovered Rainbow Rowell two weeks ago! I feel like I missed out on so much. So if you know any good ones, please send them my way.
Because there’s no age limit on hope…
…and a renaissance. We forget that sometimes, so it’s good to remember. ☁