Do you ever listen to groups of women collectively fawning over weddings, proposals, diamond rings and white dresses and feel like maybe you're missing some kind of biological girl chip?
Every single time I find myself in a giddy marriage conversation with a team of excitable women, I feel deeply alienated by my own gender.
My favorite color is pink, and I wear fucking flowers in my hair. I'm so FEMME, it's nauseating.
But for all my femmey quirks, I can't seem to bring myself to remotely care about getting married. Like, at all.
"What kind of wedding did you see yourself having as a kid, Zara?" my friend Tia* asked me a few days ago. Her eyes bulged with excitement as she caressed her ringless ring finger.
"I don't know. I guess I haven't really thought about it," I answered honestly as I happily twisted my extra large, fake sapphire cocktail ring around my pointer finger.
"You're 30. Of course you've thought about it," she said.
"I only think about it when people ask me about it."
"No way. We all think about getting married, Zara."
"I really don't."
Tia looked at me strangely, her large green eyes rapidly moving from left to right, like I was some sort of rare animal in an urban zoo.
"Not even the dress?" Tia looked hopefully at me, trying to dig her claws into my achilles heel: fashion.
Not even the dress.
And I used to model wedding gowns at trade shows and websites. I felt nothing but pure coldness as I threw those satin, too-white nightmares over my body.
On my 30th birthday, a part of me expected to suddenly crave a sparkling diamond ring and a princess gown. Instead, I woke up in The Standard Hotel in a black Diane Von Furstenburg slip dress with the taste of champagne in my mouth, and a irrepressible craving for the $75 truffle macaroni and cheese at the Waverly Inn.
It's not that I don't absolutely love love. Love is the most powerful, magical force in the universe. I'm a true romantic who fully believes I'm capable of attaining a life-long, wild love affair.
The feelings of love and lust are the greatest feelings in the entire world. Stolen moments connecting with another human being on such a visceral, primal level are the moments that make our haphazard lives worth living.
But marriage? I don't know, babe.
I've never dreamed about getting married, even when I was a little kid who watched all the Disney princess movies. I dreamed about being a professional figure skater. When I realized that was never going to happen because I have zero balance or grace, I dreamed of becoming an actress.
I visualized my Oscar dress with the same intense attention to detail that other girls probably reserved for their wedding dress day dreams. I dreamed about living in the pale pink Beverly Hills Hotel, living the melodramatic, whiskey-swilling, party-going, high-fluting life of a tragic movie star.
I dreamed of palm trees, passionate love affairs, false eyelashes for days, quilted Chanel purses and epic friendships with talented artists who lived all over the world.
My fantasies have shifted a little in the past decade. I crave the fiery, life-long career of a writer over a delusional dream of being a Hollywood starlet, but the whole wedding thing still isn't taking up any space in my brain. With my career, my partner, my travel aspirations, my family, my fabulous friends, all the places I want to live... there isn't much space for a wedding.
And don't get me wrong, I love parties. But the heavy fuss and the crazy stress of a wedding feels a little unnecessary to me for just one day in the great expanse of my life.
No judgment to the girls who are filled with desire for all of that (you do you, girl!), but I would rather travel to an exotic destination with my partner for six months than get married. That's my definition of heart-fluttering romance.
Maybe I'll change. Maybe I'll never change. Maybe it doesn't matter. In the past few years, I've learned there is no roadmap of things you're "supposed" to do in your life.
Maybe you're totally excited to get married, and that's totally cool. It doesn't make you a bad feminist, or weak, or menial or silly. It doesn't mean anything except you want to get married. Sometimes a spade really is a fucking spade.
And maybe you're like me, and you're just far more infatuated by books, sex and intense love than you are about marriage.
Don't let anyone shame you into thinking you're immature because marriage isn't on the forefront of your mind. It's 2017. Regardless of where you land on the spectrum of sexuality, your value as a woman isn't connected to being married by a certain age. (It might be in some communities, but not in progressive ones.)
There are a lot of people like us.
My best friend, Ruba, can't stop talking about scoring her dream job. We spend hours drinking wine, fantasizing about our future success. We've never, ever, ever discussed marriage. We've been best friends for 15 years.
My other best friend, Owen, and I like to take photographs all around the city and go to weird warehouse parties in Brooklyn. Our lives are full of love, friendship and adventure. We're both obsessed with being in love and have been ever since we first bonded over Smirnoff ice in high school.
But we're not obsessed with marriage. And we don't really give a fuck.
So, girls, if you feel like you're missing some kind of CHIP because you're dreaming of other things besides your wedding day, know that you're in good company.
I, personally, would rather have a Chanel bag over a diamond ring any day of the week. My friends used to think I was kidding. I was never kidding.
So, here goes: My name is Zara Barrie, I'm a loyal, intense LOVER, a writer and a fashion-obsessed New Yorker, and I don't care about getting married. And I don't care who knows it.