Now, as a fan of ruby, scarlet, vermilion, and every other hue (and cry?) of my favorite color, these days — courtesy of chaos in American politics — I seem to find myself perpetually seeing red…
However, though we may be fighting fiercely on every (socio-economic-political) front… as the saying goes, the heart wants what the heart wants. And for many of us, that comes down to this: We miss the flutter, the heat, and the partnership that once-upon-a-time enriched our lives.
While adult kids may assume we’re sexless and oblivious to any such desires, let’s clarify: They’re wrong. We want love. We want to give it, to receive it, to believe that it’s still possible.
Rushing to the altar? Probably not. But fun? Laughter? Passion?
We’re not barring the door.
Sure, after the breakup of a long-term relationship or marriage, we need time to heal. More importantly, we may be putting the financial and logistical puzzle pieces of our lives back together — not just for our own benefit, but for our families.
At a certain stage in life, especially if we’ve been hurt, some of us close the door on the possibility of giving our hearts to another person again, and that he or she could care for us in return. We do so out of fear or fatigue or both. We do so for practical purposes, or so we tell ourselves. And we may be using tired and self-defeating reasoning: “I’m 56 now. It’s too late. It’s too complicated.” Or we scowl at the mirror and say: “I can’t get out there and compete. Those days are past.”
Yep. We shut these doors to the possibility of a playmate or a partner.
A few years back I heard through the familial grapevine that a 75-year-old aunt, widowed after a long marriage, was involved in a new relationship. How cool, I thought. And… how incredibly brave.
I found myself wondering if it was easier for her because she was widowed rather than divorced. Her nuclear family had never ruptured. Her married friends had not deserted. Neither her career nor her finances had been obliterated by a nasty marital break or the contentious proceedings that can follow.
Whether these “practical” factors were in play or not, I nonetheless consider her brave. Whatever the circumstances of one’s single life or marital history, isn’t love always an act of courage? Isn’t it always a leap of faith?
For some of us, it may be hard enough to give our hearts in a committed way the first time. But to do it again after being hurt? Really hurt? To trust another human being with our flaws and our foibles? To risk emotional uncertainty when time and circumstances have complicated our lives? When we’ve had to scratch our way back to something like normal?
My own love story — make that stories — have been, let’s just say, many and varied. I loved a few times before I married, I married relatively late, I loved the man I married, and it was years after divorce before I allowed myself to love another time.
My “regrouping” period was long and murky. The breakup of my marriage and its aftermath seemed to have broken something in me. Something bigger than me. My belief systems. In fact, the ripple effects of divorce ran so strong and so deep, affected so many of my relationships, and were so damaging to my everyday existence that it was as if the “shattering” that resulted were irreparable. And it would be years before I could even begin to measure the impacts to my children.
As time passed, I knew that my fractured places could bear the weight of loving, and indeed they did. But the ultimate commitment?
Quite possibly not.
Perhaps this is why an old friend once said I was not the marrying kind. But I think she got that wrong. It may have been more accurate to say that I was no longer the marrying kind, not because I don’t believe in marriage, but because I do. I see it as a sacred covenant, a formidable and forgiving unit, a private space for two that is never to be taken lightly.
Loving is the hors d’oeuvre to some, dessert to others, and the main course to many of us. It is sustenance, energy, the path to our very best selves. If we’re fortunate, we have family to love, and friends to love, and of course pursuits to love!
If we’re very lucky and if we want it, we live romantic love as well. Or at least a little great sex from time to time…
Naturally, some of us are convinced that as we grow older, our chances to date or mate will narrow — significantly. Now come on, you know it’s true. It’s a matter of opportunity. It’s a matter of demographics. And it’s the fact that older men can still snap up younger women, but for those of us “chicks” who are no longer spring chickens?
Not so much…
Then I think of my aunt. I think of the glorious grins, the easy laughter, the infectious energy that some individuals give off — women and men both — whatever their age. I think of a gentleman who smiled at me in a neighborhood restaurant recently, and struck up a conversation as I was lunching with one of my sons. I think of someone I loved deeply once who is now back in touch on a regular basis, much to my surprise and pleasure. And I tell myself, “Never say never…”
You May Also Enjoy