The Waiting Game
Many years ago, there was an advice column where a person needed to buy a new bed. The question asker was single, and all she currently needed was a twin bed. But she reasoned that if she got a partner, she would want a queen-sized mattress. So was it better to spend the money and get the queen bed and be done with it, or buy the twin bed she needed in the moment, which made her feel as if she was resigning herself to being eternally single?
The advice columnist told her to get the twin bed. It was the bed she needed in this moment — that she could afford in this moment — and she should only make decisions based on what was happening in this moment. There were billions of what ifs people could use to make purchases, but none were a smart way of making spending decisions. The columnist promised that if life changed in a few months and she was moving in with someone, they could pool their resources and buy a queen bed and make the twin bed the guest bed. The right bed would be purchased at the right time.
Personally, I would have splurged on the queen bed. I hate shopping, and I would have wanted to get it over with once vs. risking having to go to the store twice.
But I digress.
I was thinking about the column because in Curtis Sittenfeld’s American Wife, the main character decides she will buy a house if she’s still unmarried at thirty. She writes, “Although I told no one, keeping this idea in the back of my mind provided reassurance; it made my life seem less like something I was waiting for and more like something I was planning” (p. 95).
I think everyone reading this understands why that thought resonated with me. When you’re going through infertility, it feels like life is something you’re waiting for, not planning. So you look for those places where you can make declarations, you can wrest back some control, you can be the one in the driver’s seat (even if you can’t drive where you really want to go).
I love that she looked for houses. It’s such a small thing, shifting her focus, but it made me care so deeply about the character.
Because we looked for houses when we couldn’t have a child. We looked for houses when we were going through treatments. I think about that when I sit in this space, having no clue whether or not we would ever reach those other goals so going for the one that was within our control.
I guess that’s why I always wanted the question asker in that advice column to buy the queen-sized bed. She can’t control whether she gets married, but she can control the size of her bed. I guess I just liked the idea of a person getting the bed their heart really wanted because of what it represented to her. The idea of taking a break from the waiting game and stretching out across a delicious new mattress.