Let me set the scene for you. Is is approximately 3:30 am on a Friday morning and I flag down a taxi to take me to the Manila airport for my departure from five months of living in the Philippines. The conversation goes like this,
Taxi driver (TD): “Hello maam, how are you?”
Me: “Good thank you, very tired since it is so early”.
TD: “Yes, very tired. Maam, is it okay if I ask you how old you are?”
Me: “Yes, no problem, I am 30”.
TD: “THIRTY, I don’t believe it. Maam, are you married?”
Me: “Oh thank you. Yes, I am 30 and no I am not married”.
TD: “Maam, you have no boyfriend? You are single? But why?”.
Me: “Don’t know why. Just haven’t found the right one yet.”
Typically the conversation goes on from here into other tedious details which I will not bore you with. I share all this to say that when I left for the Philippines I vowed to consistently use this blog for a few purposes: to report cultural/travel experiences, to share thoughts/prayers, and to discuss my participation in Microfinance/NGO work.
This particular blog falls in the cultural experience sector and involves a conversation I have on a daily basis, if not bi-daily, while living in the Philippines (for this example I will admit that on occasion I speak in hyperbole for dramatic effect but for this story, there is no such exaggeration). I recently attended a work conference with 900 employees and had this conversation at least 5-6 times per day (again no exaggeration). Initially the question was intimidating and exhausting. In LA, where I just had moved from, the conversation is pretty much extinct among strangers and really only happens in the context of good friends if your friends are ones to care about such matters. We, in my generation of metropolitan singletons, fill our shared word space with talk of dreams, accomplishments and future plans.
I will not spend too much time dissecting why this happens in the Philippines except for I have decided to take the positive spin on it and say that Filipinos care deeply about family and they care about hospitality. Providing hospitality for a stranger often means making sure you have your own family and connections while you are with them.
I initially felt like I had to make excuses for my state of singleness but I found that they moment I was honest and said, “I don’t know why”, that is actually the time I got the best response from whomever it was i was speaking to at the time. Now, I guess I don’t know why but maybe I do, so let me explain a little.
First caveat of course is to say, that I am not a person that puts all my value in this or feels I need to find a person to complete my life. I say this should someone stumble upon this one day, hidden in blog back logs and question my motives for life.
So, with that said, back to the question at hand that all Filipinos want to know about: Why am I thirty and single? I guess because I haven’t found the person that embodies the following things yet (understandably, a relationship is a two-sided thing so for my part, this is why).
A passion for God. A passion for loving people, whether it is intentional or oozes out of them naturally. A person who is intelligent or at least cares about continuing to grow in life. A person who is adventurous. A person who can talk AND listen. A person who I can laugh with. At the end of the day, this is really it. I think the package this will come in will surprise me, and I also think that it could look different than these words so simply convey. I expect no person to be perfect and look forward to the unexpected, to the giving and receiving of grace and to embracing the mystery of love together.
Until that time, I commit my life to admitting that I don’t have the answers but I am embracing the journey ahead of me. I look forward to what God has to come and know that grace always surprises us so why wouldn’t grace do the same in the form of a partner of love. So Filipinos, I don’t know why I am single but I know why I live and I will continue to do that by myself and with my future partner, whenever that time shall come.