It's usually said in a hushed tone by people who think I've suddenly become deaf to any language spoken ten feet away but it isn't always. Once in awhile, someone will slip up . . . "Oh, you're that one," before turning beet red and stuttering to apologize.
Such was the case at the fortieth anniversary celebration of my husband's parents.
What sacred social convention did I trample to earn my "that" stamp? Take your pick:
- I am an atheist in the Bible Belt.
- I am a social liberal in a decidedly red state.
- I am the parent of an only child--by choice.
- I am a working mother in a family where Woman's role is to serve Man.
I became none of these things on a whim. I've known from the moment I came to understand I was alive that I could never be at the mercy of someone else's finances; the struggle to believe in a higher power was played its death knell after a summer spent in Christian bookstores, with me desperate to find something--anything--to silence the little whispers of doubt I'd heard throughout my twenty years on this planet. I care not one whit what two consenting adults do behind their own bedroom door and I can't imagine any thinking, compassionate adult even wanting the authority to deem one behavior "acceptable" and punish another as "damnable".
The decision to have an only child is another post altogether--but even it was a deliberate choice made after months of careful thought.
Someone referred to me as "that one" recently. It was the first time in a long time and I immediately realized it no longer bothered me. Perhaps it's age or experience or just the thick skin of someone long-accustomed to having her work judged by strangers. I don't know.
What I do know, is that I can tell you everything I stand for and why. And so the label no longer matters.