I’m a person who embraces change—or at least, I always thought I am.
I relish a fast-paced life strung by capricious days, each day filled with new tasks and activities. I love traveling and absorbing new sceneries and communities. I rarely visit a restaurant twice. I enjoy journalism because it constantly provides me with new information and interactions.
But there is one change that feels me with dread. And that’s relationships.
Relationships change. It’s part of the natural progression of life. We enter a new phase of our life, and our relationships shift to reflect that. Our high school and college girlfriends marry. They nestle into a family and suddenly turn down all get-togethers. And when they do make it, they show up looking exhausted and disinterested. New terminologies like “diapers” and “breast-feeding” enter your conversations. You’re still friends, but you’ve been edged lower down the list of your friend’s priorities. Somehow, there’s always this feeling— the invincible presence of her new husband and children— as “I” becomes “we” and “me” becomes “us.”
Perhaps I’m exaggerating something that hasn’t entirely taken place in my life yet. But as I await my brother’s impending marriage and hang out as a third wheel with couples, the inevitability of such changes prick me with discomfort and apprehension.
When I voiced my fears to my closest friends, they swore nothing would change. “Don’t worry!” they declared. “I’ll still make sure to make time for you. And you can babysit my kids!”—forgetting that I’m horrible with kids.
It’s hard, as I’m convinced that I’ll stay single for the rest of my life. And I have to admit, a lot of my ambivalence towards marriage and family life stems from such fears. Secretly, I wish everyone would happily stay single like me so our relationships could always be one of carefree close friends meeting for drinks and midnight Sex and the City episodes. And see this handsome fellow?:
You might see him as a 23-year-old adult, but I wish he would stay as my little brother forever, instead of a man, a husband and a father.
But that, of course, is impossible. And ridiculously selfish.
I wonder what I’ll think and say to this post about 10 years from now. By then, the inevitable would have long happened. I would be an aunt to my brother’s and my friends’ children. Who knows, maybe by some miracle I would become one of them. Even now, I know this fear classifies into that of an immature young woman who is still lodged in her early 20s phase.
Well, actually, I’ll soon be in my mid-20s. I’ll be 25 when I graduate college next summer and tackle new responsibilities. Within that year, a lot can change, including my own thoughts and world. At my age, my mother was married for two years and soon to be impregnated with me. At my age, young men are drafted to war to fight for their country.
Perhaps relationship changes will not only reflect the changes in my brother and friends’ lives, but also prod me to grow in maturity. After all, such changes will provide me with fresh perspectives and understandings into a life of certain responsibilities that I always felt belonged to my parents’ generation. Like what it is to be a wife. To be a mother. To be a provider, a breadwinner, a man or woman with real responsibilities.
A while ago I met up with my dearest friend Ellie. Ellie is a fellow blogger with whom I bonded over hikes, patbingsoo and prayers.
We’re the same age. In fact, we were both born in October, 1987. But that day, the Ellie I met was no longer Ellie Kim. She is now Ellie Kim Betzen—wife and ministry partner of Greg Betzen.
It felt a bit strange. She was no longer a girl, but a woman with a diamond ring on her finger who had just arrived from her honeymoon to Hawaii. I felt like she had just gotten 10 years older than me, even though we were both 24. Perhaps I imagine things—but there was even a different glow about her. She’s a Mrs. now!
But as we started talking, we eased back into a spirited conversation that didn’t feel uncomfortable or strange at all. Of course, the topics we talked about were very different. It was a novel experience for me to talk to a contemporary about having a husband, the ups and downs of a marriage life, the struggles and rewards of being a pastor’s wife.
It was new and a little bit weird—but not unpleasant at all. In fact, I felt my eyes open just a little bit to a new world that fascinated and educated me. It also helps that Ellie is just such a warm, open person who can probably make any topic seem comfortable. And perhaps, it also helped that we met in a setting that was familiar to me: eating good food.
We met at Mayura, a South Indian restaurant in Culver City that I’d wanted to visit for a long time. This place was recommended to me by a food writer friend, Daina. She got me hooked with tales of arm-length dosas and spicy chutneys.
We met early evening, so it was rather sparse. The Bollywood playing on the TV served as a nice background noise.
The word “mayura” means peacock in Sanskrit. It’s meant to symbolize elegance and grace. Well, Mayura has apparently been graced with visits by many important figures, judging from all the pictures they showcased with pride.
The owner was incredibly friendly, and because neither Ellie and I are very knowledgeable about South Indian cuisine, he explained all the different dishes to us.
Ellie ordered the Kerala Special Appam with Vegetable Curry:
Kerala (according to my research) is a state in India that is a tourist-favorite because of its ancient history and culture. It’s also a paradise lush with beautiful beaches, backwaters, mountain ranges and wildlife sanctuaries. Its cuisine usually comes chockfull of ancient, cultivated spices, which was what we tasted in Ellie’s vegetable curry.
But the appam was what reveled us with its spongy, fluffy texture and mild, toasty sweetness.
Appam is a fermented bread made from finely ground rice powder, which is what gives it its characteristic milky color. It reminded me of Ethiopian injera—without that sour flavor.
I got the Egg Bhurji dosa:
Egg Bhurji is basically egg scramble, but mine came scrambled with some Indian spices that gave it that yummy punch. It came with two kinds of chutneys: some kind of creamy coconut chutney and a spicier tomato and onion one.
Ee! This was marvelous! The dosa—crepe—was light, crispy with just a bit of chew inside. The eggs were nice and fluffy. Dipped into the chutneys, this was like a jacked up egg scramble wrap. Well, I guess that’s what it was, basically.
Ellie and I sat there and talked and talked for more than an hour. I left Mayura feeling incredibly blessed to know someone like her. I’ve grown up as a pastor’s kid, but it’s the first time I’ve had someone my age talking about her insights and experience, though still green, as a pastor’s wife. And because everything was still so new, we were both effused with this youthful spirit and passion of excitement for the future.
Not to say I left that dinner with all my fears dissipated. I still await the relationship changes with some kind of tension. After all, it’s human nature to dread the unforeseen. But Ellie allowed me a peek. And I think instead of me being left behind in my singledom, I might be invited into a journey of maturation and new insights. I do love to learn new things after all.