This piece was originally written for O, The Oprah Magazine by Tish Durkin back in 2005 (seen above with her husband). I love it so much that I wanted to share it with my readers, especially my single 30-something sisters!
If you've ever thought, I can't do this, I'm too old for that, I've missed my chance...oh please! It's not as though we're proposing you go parasailing, skateboarding, Mount Everest climbing--well, wait a second, maybe we are.
Whether it's starting a writers colony, moving to India, holding out for the perfect man, or diving head first into an intoxicating new field of study. I prove (beyond a shadow of a doubt) that... it's never too late to...hold out for real love.
There is of course, that special place in hell reserved for women who get married and gloat. So believe, me I wouldn't dream of crowing about the knot I've just tied, at 36, if it weren't for the purpose of telling a crucial truth to my still single sisters. And for once, it's a truth they'll enjoy hearing.
The truth is:
It's never too late to be picky about men.
Granted, this contradicts all those other, harsher truths that get told so much more often:
You're not getting any younger.
You're not the worlds greatest catch, either.
If you keep holding out for that ideal man, you may never have a baby.
By the time I met my match, I had heard it all. I was 32 and never anything: never married, never engaged, never pinned, never promised. Thus, I was always defending myself against the peculiar charge, leveled more frequently and frankly with each passing year, of insisting upon love as a prerequisite for marriage. And not sensable, better-than-nothing, he-respects-me love, either. I wanted great big core-connecting, fate fulfilling, gotta-have-it earthquake love or a lifetime supply of soup for one.
So it wasn't just fate that finally found me in a taxi bound for Baghdad. I was on my way to Iraq to cover the war as a freelance journalist. After several attempts to cross the border from Syria, I had gone to Jordan. From there, I rode into Iraq with four journalists I had just met. Actually, one was an entrepreneur turned musician turned documentary filmmaker who was to turn, very soon, into my gift from the mating gods.
His name was Sean O'Sullivan, and although my last thought at the time was to size him up as a date, he sized up frighteningly well (straight, single, Irish Catholic, my age...) By the time we reached the falling Iraqi capital and 14 hours of conversation later, he had proved himself possessed of personal-ad plaudits (smart, witty, adventurous...)
He had a brilliant right and left brain, hoped to live in Europe for a while, and considered the heating of chunky soup to be cooking. He could play the piano, fly a helicopter, and do giant loops of math in his head. He was heroically romantic (our first real date was three weeks in Italy and France), and romantically heroic (in 2003 he single-handedly founded and personally, often perilously, ran JumpStart Internationally, a humanitarian organization that has employed thousands of Iraqis in the reconstruction effort). Best and most bizarre of all, he went nuts over me.
I could go on, but why bother when all can be said in a word? He was it.
Some of my friends take the moral of our meeting to be that love will find you when you least expect it. I disagree. For me, the moral is Don't. Don't panic, don't strategize, and for God's sake, don't settle. No question, you might live-and, yes, die-alone. But you will not kill the possibility of great, glove-fitting love, and as long as you live, the possibility is real.
A year to the day after we met, Sean proposed. We got married on New Year's Eve, and in the spring moved to Spain. We had planned to shuttle often between Madrid and the Middle East. But for the moment, at least, I can't go anywhere dangerous: The baby is due in October.
On my current wish list, the following I'd love to wear (head to toe) this Fall 2014:
Wool Houndstooth Parka
Reverse Los Ojos Trench Parka
'Rockstud' Pointy Toe Calfskin Leather Bootie
Autumn Leopard Infinity Scarf
I recently had a conversation about the power of the human connection. In the past year or so, I've had some lightening rod moments in terms of making a connection. I couldn't point out what exactly it was about the individual (male and female) but I knew deep in my gut that we had some sort of strong connection.
I found it in the most ordinary of places and with the most ordinary of interactions. With one individual, it was the mere shaking of his hand that made my heart skip a beat.
With another, it was that I could see myself so vividly in her.
And with another, simply, a smile.
And the hundreds of people we desperately try to have connections with that are so difficult to reach? Like that introverted family member or a guy your mother wants you to date - a friend's husband, or the other best friend of your best friend. These days, it almost borderlines pain when put in a situation where the pressure of connection is there but the evidence indicates the lack thereof.
I've learned to trust my instincts when it comes to the power of connection. I let myself dive right into it. Because with 7 billion people on planet Earth, one true connection is not to take for granted.
My favorite quotes on connection are below.
BAG: "It's got to be my convertible clutch wallet from BEVÉE, of course! Seriously though - it is the little bag that works for my crazy busy lifestyle and love of fashion."
JEANS: "Paige. I own a lot of them! Especially super soft skinnies in any colour."
STYLE ROLE MODEL: "Not sure I have one but I'd say Victoria Beckham. Great lines plus I loved how hard she worked to become a serious fashion designer."
HAIRSTYLIST: "Ha. I am terrible about hair. I go to whoever has scissors and an open appointment at the time I need!"
LIP COLOR: "This fall I'm really into butter LONDON Moisture Matte lipstick in Ruby Murray."
MAKEUP ARTIST: "Luce Cousineau. She mainly works in film (with clients like Keira Knightley) so she's hard to get but well worth it."
MASCARA: "Trish McEvoy 'Lash Curling' Mascara"
FACIALIST: "SKOAH - they specialize in giving your skin a 'workout' and have great products and facialists"
FRAGRANCE: "Flowerbomb by Viktor & Rolf"
JEWELRY: "My mum gave me a gold sovereign on a gold chain for my 40th that her mother had given to her on hers...no label can top that!"
SKIN CARE: "Kiehls. Love their vitamin C serum - as good if not better than Retinol."
VACATION SPOT: "Either somewhere exotic with clean beaches and great surf or home to London!"
As I set down my Amazon Kindle, having finished my former colleague Atia Abawi's The Secret Sky, two things immediately came to mind.
One, that I am quite fortunate to live in the United States of America and two, that the warring factions inside the country of Afghanistan are more complex than anything external forces will be able to solve.
In Abawi's book, we are witness to the friendship and later deep love between two individuals from different tribes - Pashtun and Hazara. Not only do the male (Samiullah) and female (Fatimah) friends encounter punishment for being in each others presence (a big no-no in strict Islamic culture) but are barred from a future together given their respective family lineage.
When Sami and Fatimah are caught and labeled "infidels", both they and their families are punished - with Fatima bearing the brunt of the emotional and physical backlash. What takes places next is a cat and mouse chase that causes Fatima and Sami to run from extremists who are bent on delivering them a harsh punishment.
In the end, the amount of death and betrayal far surpasses the amount the happiness the two later achieve. The book is riveting, provocative and brings you to face to face with a world far from ours. I highly recommend The Secret Sky for those interested in foreign politics, Afghani culture and the tribal divisions within the country of Afghanistan. You will come to realize how far we are from a free world.
Disclosure: Atia Abawi and I were colleagues at CNN in Atlanta back in 2004.
BAG: "I collect vintage purses and my favorite find is a 1970’s Gucci duffle I found hidden in a dusty vintage shop in Honolulu."
JEANS: "I’m addicted to my black Joe’s jeans."
STYLE ROLE MODEL: "Probably a cross between Marimekko and Kim Gordon"
HAIRSTYLIST: "Tabrina at RedX Salon"
LIP COLOR: "Anything pink"
MAKEUP ARTIST: "Anyone who makes me look like a better version of myself"
MASCARA: "I buy drug store brands as I never keep mascara past 3-5 months"
FACIALIST: "Who has time?!"
FRAGRANCE: "I'm definitely a scent snob; I prefer organic essential oils like neroli, lavender or sandalwood."
JEWELRY: "I love vintage jewelry and have a good collection from the 1960’s but my favorite piece is my wedding ring"
SKIN CARE: "I make my own natural skin care products and I find that organic coconut oil cures nearly everything."
VACATION SPOT: "I love to travel and I have many favorites. My best vacations are when I’m surrounded by natural beauty, eating incredible food and shopping!"
BAG: "Lately my go-to has been my matte black Alexander Wang Rockie bag"
JEANS: "Citizens of Humanity Avedon skinnies"
STYLE ROLE MODEL: "Jenna Lyons, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Carrie Bradshaw"
HAIRSTYLIST: "Jayne Matthews at Edo Salon in SF"
LIP COLOR: "A red-orange lip punches up almost any look. My current fave is from MAC x Proenza Schouler in Mangrove - it's bright and super flattering!"
MAKEUP ARTIST: "Me! I've always enjoyed the process of applying makeup, and it doesn't hurt that I work in the industry, so I get to play with lots of new products."
MASCARA: "Guerlain Noir G not only makes my lashes super long, while still natural looking, but it comes in the chicest packaging."
FACIALIST: "Instead I believe in a religious skincare routine and checkups at the dermatologist"
FRAGRANCE: "Tom Ford Jasmine Rouge"
JEWELRY: "Eva Fehren makes the coolest pieces I've ever seen"
SKIN CARE: "Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash, Aqua Glycolic Toner, Cetaphil Moisturizer, and Epiduo"
VACATION SPOT: "This summer I went to Kauai and fell in love with its exotic beauty - can't wait to go back!"
MUST Follow Kristen's blog HERE and her on Twitter: @thehot_thecool
*Shout out to her fiancee, Brian Poliakoff, who is a dear college friend. You nabbed a beauty, Bri guy!