On Settling Down: Why to Avoid the Societal Colonoscopy

I’ve decided that I’m never going to buy a house.

Of course, this idea might change. But I’ve also given up on getting married and children, also.  When I picture my old age, I see me in an office, bent over, grading papers, with the office stacked and stacked with books and me still teaching, writing, doing what I do now but with forty years behind me.  I’ll tell people, “Don’t let this be you” and not really mean it.  And then, one glorious morning, I’ll be standing up in front of my class, explaining what an argument essay is for the two hundredth time and then I’ll have a heart attack right there and collapse.  I’ll be eighty-six.

There is a larger concept that I can’t completely get my head around. At least not yet.  But I am trying to get my head around it.  I really don’t see the allure of “Settling Down.”  I don’t see the point of it and I don’t have to do it.  Settling down.  That sounds horrible. Is life a pre-written narrative that we have no control over?  You go to school.  Then you go to high school. Then you go to college.  Then you get a job. Then you get a job you like. Then you meet a person you like. Then you get a house. Then you get married?  Or do you get married and then buy a house?  And then you have kids. And then you raise the kids. And then the kids move out. And then you have grand kids.  And then you have those awkward twilight years where you’re too old to have more kids and too old to start a new career, but not old enough to die.  So you just hang out.  And then you die.  I don’t want any of that and I feel, for some reason, I feel wrong for not wanting any of that. I don’t want to buy a house and fill it up with junk.  I want children, but I don’t want a wife, and I’ve come to terms with the fact that my acquiring children will be accidental. I would like to spend some years (decades?) with a woman.  If that means marriage, ok, but it doesn’t have to.  And I don’t want my children to go to private or public school.  I don’t want my children to go to school at all.  I want my son or daughter to travel the world and learn from many different people and many different ways.  I want my child to grab a stick one day, at the tender age of ten, and walk into the forest and then, two years later, come back older and wiser than when they left.  I would like to have the same job, but I don’t want to spend those awkward twilight years lingering.  How everyone else has done is as appealing to me as a colonoscopy.

However.  People who do all those things.  Those people do look pretty happy.  And, yeah, sometimes a colonoscopy is needed.

One of the things that the future is going to have to deal with, actively, is the millions of people in their old age who are single and childless because they choose to be.  Or they have children and never married.  Or they married and never had children.  There will be many people who rent a home and have rented all their lives, people who have no concern with retirement because they never will retire.  Millions of people who view the suburbs more like Siberia and who think grandchildren are cool when they are, of course, someone else’s grandchildren.  The future is going to look strange because the present is producing strange people.

When I hear conservatives say they are “Worried about their way of life” or that their “Way of life is threatened”, I don’t think they are over-stating or paranoid. They are right.  Their way of life is threatened. The question is whether it is a good thing or a bad thing.


3 thoughts on “On Settling Down: Why to Avoid the Societal Colonoscopy

  1. I know what you mean, though for me (seeing as how I’m married) I think it’s just a desire to live intentionally, on purpose, to not make decisions just because they’re what “comes next.” We’ve been married seven years now, no kids, much to my mother-in-law’s chagrin. I think we’ll have kids some day, but I want to have them when I really really want them–not at the prescribed “you’ve been married long enough, get to it” time.

    The whole couponing-suburbs-soccer practice thing scares me to death too. I want to be able to pick up and spend a month somewhere else, if that’s what I want to do. I want to take a low-paying job with no benefits because it gives me time to write. (Though I would prefer a high-paying job with benefits that gives me time to write, but I haven’t found one of those yet.) But maybe later I’ll want something else. Maybe one day I’ll be happy staying in one place.

    I need to learn to write shorter comments on your blog. Many apologies. All this to say: go for it. Life the live you want to live.

  2. We only got married for the health insurance…and now that’s gone. And we did it “our way.” My husband & I have agreed to stay together until we’re bored or just don’t like one another anymore. And we refuse to have kids, no matter how much pressure society puts on us. Fuck the suburbs. Never give in. Never surrender!

  3. Thank you both. I just want the world to understand that domestication scares the crap out of me.

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