Fighting my tired eyes, I promised myself I’d read one more chapter of the book I’m trying to finish before going to bed a few nights ago. And then I came upon this passage: “In October 1969, I met Regina Ann Walsh, Genie, object of thirty-seven years of passion and devotion . . . hippie princess, the most beautiful girl I have ever seen, my final and best defense against meaninglessness, my other eyes, this woman, this girl, this goddess, ineffably patient, screaming warrior who won’t-take-shit-past-a-certain-point, absolute center of the universe, oasis of calm, she who does the taxes.”
Suddenly, my eyes weren’t so very tired. Thanks, Frank Schaeffer.
I read on, “I was in love from that moment, was from the minute she opened the door, really, really in love or in something, in delirious, in a state where my brain stopped working and some prophetic instinct took over . . . And all the other girls, those shadow women, those posers, pretenders, just faded away . . .”
I have a friend who calls me a Midwestern cynic. He is probably right. But the words I read after midnight touched this cynic.
I am lucky to have good friends that love me. Of those that love me, many want to see me marry again. That would be nice. After my divorce, I would have told you that was a priority.
Now, not so much.
I get emails featuring seminars on dating over a certain age and finding your “dream man.” And maybe this makes me an odd duck, but my eyes wander to the advertisement for the wine tasting seminar at the bottom of the email, which sounds ever so much more lovely. The dating seminar sounds like one level of hell—a room full of women who are “hunting” for a man. I want to ask them what else they could be doing and why they are not. I want to tell them to sneak down to the wine tasting two floors down because it’ll be a lot more fun.
In addition to my sweet, well-meaning friends, I meet people all the time who assume because I am a divorced woman, I want the whole enchilada a second time. And by the whole enchilada, they mean a man, a marriage, all the responsibilities coming from such.
I have to tell them: “Now? Not so much.”
This position is interpreted as a hard line—an odd line—in a society in which the children in my neighborhood are still stymied that I work from home, supporting a family, in much the way their fathers do from an out-of-home office. They are unused to a woman holding that role.
But it is not such a hard line, really. I love love just as much as the next girl. But perhaps I bring a savvy the next girl didn’t have a few decades ago when she married. At the risk of being deleted from the invitation list for every cocktail party and barbecue in the foreseeable future: I don’t see much to want when I look at the situations of many married women my age.
I see a loss of power—and thus, choice– because they are not an equal financial partner.
I see men with wandering eyes who want to recapture their youth.
I see settling because they are not sure what else to do.
So, you can see why my eyes brightened at the book passage. The writer’s marriage is far from perfect, if the rest of the book is to be believed. But man, does he love. And more importantly, he loves over time.
I know a few couples who have something I admire. I can’t say if it’s chemistry, hard work or just plain luck—but they’ve grown together over time. They seem to recognize what they have in the other. And I wish them decades more of happiness.
But as for me–I come to love now, much as I did a few decades ago, able to support myself. Now, I also come a bit world weary. I come with children and a dog—and “complications” resulting from my divorce. You’ll have to fall in love with all of it, sir. Because it’s just my life and that makes sense.
For the most part, I enjoy my day to day. I wish I had more of my crazy family around me—that bit I miss—but I like what I do. I like my freedom. I am happy in my situation.
So when my friends ask or nudge, I think I will point them to my new favorite book passage and say: “I want a love like that.” And it may or may not involve marriage. Commitment? Yes. The rest of it? Well, I am a woman with choices. I’ll probably exercise them as best I see fit at the time.
All things considered, I do not understand settling for less in a life that is already a hard-won journey.