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No Ring on my finger 

Confessions of a modern-day spinster

Page 6 of 6

Nor do I believe I was emotionally ready for marriage until now. Had I married young I'm sure I would have had at least one nervous breakdown, a couple of extramarital affairs and a parcel of emotionally neglected children. In other words, I'd be divorced by now. My time alone has allowed me to get to know myself, to accomplish things, to find a purpose in the world beyond a husband and children.

But sometimes I think back and wonder what might have been if my attitude toward marriage had been different in my 20s. In college I briefly dated, off and on, a great guy named Tim. He was never really a boyfriend -- I made sure to screw things up before it ever got that far. Nevertheless, he's my "one that got away." He's an artist and a musician, cute as heck and abundantly kind. Unlike most other guys I've dated, Tim understood me. I haven't seen him in 10 years. I looked him up the other day and gave him a call. His voice came on the answering machine: "Tim and Dana aren't here right now, please leave a message." Dana was a sorority sister of mine who started dating Tim after college while I was wandering around the country trying to figure out who the hell I was. I left a message and Tim promptly called back. He and Dana are married now and have a 3-year-old daughter and another on the way. He just launched a start-up, she's in pharmaceuticals.

I'm happy for them, but I have to admit the phone conversation left me feeling like I'd been punched in the stomach. I couldn't sleep that night. I lay awake for hours staring at my ceiling and thinking about what might have been, perhaps like Aunt Tootie has done on occasion. That might have been me on the answering machine, living with Tim in treeless suburbia, driving an SUV and perhaps carting around a kid or two.

Ten years ago the thought would have induced dry heaves. Today, it doesn't sound so bad.

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