Every year, between Christmas and New Year, my family organizes a ball with all our friends and acquaintances from under The Hill and over The Hill and across The Water. A playlist to end all playlists is made, there's a chocolate fountain, and we dance for five or six hours straight, starting with formal-ish waltz and jive which slowly morph into a raucous freestyle by the end of the night. It's wonderful.
My one sister is going with her fiance and my other sister is going with her boyfriend of a year and a half and I'm half-ashamed to admit that I so, so want someone to go with, not just anyone, but someone obvious like that, someone to make silly inside jokes with and laugh till our stomachs hurt, and mess up the dance steps but not care because we're having too much fun, and cuddle in the corner and take smiling formalwear photos with and kiss goodbye at the end of the night.
Some years I don't go because I want those things so badly and it hurts that I don't have them, and I am ashamed of that too.
Because I know: that thing I want, it's not the most important thing. I don't need it in order to love God, or fulfill my duties, or be a wonderful, learned, joyful, fascinating, interesting, holy person. It's not my time yet, and it may never be my time, and that's okay.
But I want it, and I want it so badly that sometimes I can't think about anything else, and sometimes I can't hang out with my sisters and their fiances and boyfriends because being the third (or fifth) wheel all the time makes me want to cry, and sometimes I wonder if there is something wrong with me, if I am really so awkward or ugly or off-putting that no one will ever want to miss the steps with me, and if maybe I'll die alone in a flat that smells of cats, and sometimes I am angry with a God who has the divine gall to think He can decide the state of my love life and never mind what I think about it.
Sometimes I feel as if I can't possibly be whole as long as I am on my own. Or as if it is all my fault because I didn't try hard enough, or did the wrong thing somehow without intending it.
I'm going to the ball this year. I'm going to put on my prettiest dress and do my hair and nails and makeup, and I'm going to dance alone if I have to, and mess up the steps and laugh and joke with my sisters, and let my little brother try to do a lighthouse spin even though he's too short to twirl me under his arm. I'm going to have fun.
Then I'm going to come home and put on my comfy jammies, and make a mug of tea, and pray or watch Buffy or cry, whichever helps.