I don't know why I decided I would meet the love of my life at 52. I just decided it. I was certainly influenced by stories of other women like actress Bernadette Peters, who married for the first time when she was 48, only to lose her husband in a helicopter crash nine years later. She speaks of their love like it was a perfect moment trapped in time, probably because that's exactly what it was. Nine blissful years together, something she had to wait for, and earned. I romanticize that idea. The perfect love that comes to you as a respite from the storm and changes your life forever, no matter how brief the encounter. I recognized a bit of that theme in Amy Dickinson's memoir, "The Mighty Queens of Freeville," when I read it in the wake of my divorce five years ago. In the end, she meets a man after years of focusing on her career and raising her daughter. (They're married now in real life. Dickinson was also 48 when she married her soul mate.) I loved that story. I took great comfort in thinking that not only would I find love again someday, I could rest assured knowing that someday was far off. I craved loved desperately, but I wasn't ready for it and didn't know how to do it right. But someday, I would. And when I was ready, it would magically appear. At age 52. (Apparently I'm a slow learner.)
Even though I knew I would meet the love of my life "someday," I still dated here and there after divorcing, because life is happening now. At one point I thought I met someone I could have a real relationship with. It didn't work out, and that hit me hard, so I took time off from dating. The timing wasn't right. "Someday" wasn't here yet. I mean I was only 35! I had too much to work on within myself, too much I wanted to accomplish in my career and my daughter to focus on. (Sound familiar?) The notion that my someday love was still out there waiting for me, far, far away, kept me company in the back of my mind. A year later, I went on a few dates again, and it was fun, but I just felt frustrated. I decided I had to put romance away for a while. The dream of my far-off someday love slowly faded, until recently. Yet another year later. Something swelled inside of me one day when I was feeling a little sad, and I knew I had to get back in touch with that love inside myself. I started typing.
Have I told you guys about my second husband? His name is Frank. We meet when I'm 52 and he's 53. We marry quite soon after because it's obvious we've been waiting for each other all these years and we don't want to waste any more time since we're both going to die in our 60s like everyone else we've ever known. He's a grizzly old former Hell's Angel/current Harley rider. He rolls with a tight crew of AA buddies. Two of them are also named Frank. We laugh about how when they were drunks they were anything but frank, then we smile and feel good about how much has changed.
Frank (my husband, not Frankie or Frankton, which is how we tell them apart) has a long white beard that I hate but I love him anyway so I call him Santa, and that's our little joke. In response he calls me Mrs. Claus, but mentally he spells it Mrs. Claws and does an air cat scratch motion because I'm feisty, which he loves. We mostly spend our days tooling around antiques shops in the Hudson Valley drinking coffee. We ride up and down the river on his Harley, howling and laughing. Our relationship is very light, which is what makes it so deep. He has two adult children who have three kids between them and they're all lovely, and he loves my adult daughter and her two adopted children. We're all very close. We sit around every holiday, all of us, in the cabin, and we all think, "Finally." And we laugh and have some bourbon, except Santa - he just sips his cocoa and puts the kids on his knee. They love having Christmas with a real live Santa Claus, even though we don't really do presents. We give each other homemade things that are really special and donate money to fight global warming as a family. It's a very charmed life and we are all very happy.
I sent that to a couple of friends. One replied, "I kept waiting for the "but" and am so happy there wasn't one. Cheers to you and Santa, Mrs. Claws. This is f*cking wonderful." I kept buying into more of our future together as responses came back about my life with Frank. I told one friend who wanted to congratulate us that we were still accepting wedding gifts, "but you have to hand deliver and stay with us for the weekend so Frank can grill you a seafood dinner. That's his thing now that the doc said no red meat." It was so healing for me to imagine this beautiful life with this lovely man, and to wrap myself up in all the warm feelings that fantasy inspired. I cried a few sweet tears, moved by my own imagery, and went about the rest of my day more uplifted and whole.
That night (back in my real life) I joined some friends in Union Square to participate in an evening-long hug fest. There were giant rainbow-colored heart-shaped helium balloons flying next to a table with a big bowl filled with candy on top. As people passed by, we'd offer them the chance to choose from a menu of hilarious hugs my friend had created, like the "regular feel good hug," the "overzealous first time meeting hug" and the "I thought I was giving you a pound. Oh. It's a hug." I hugged so many people that night, something inside me cracked. I left feeling connected to people in a way I hadn't in a very long time. Suddenly I felt like maybe I don't need a far-off fantasy love anymore. Maybe I can try again, here and now.
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