Midlife dating is…interesting. I’ve written before about how what one is seeking in a relationship evolves as time passes. Instead of a partner who can co-parent and co-sign, many 50-somethings are hoping to meet someone who can co-plan and co-pilot on life’s next big, and sometimes small, adventures. Ideally, for me, that special someone is financially stable (with health insurance of their own), fun and available. You know, like me.
Each romantic partner with whom I’ve been involved has helped me to hone what it is that I’m looking for from a steady. Characteristics and traits that I find myself searching for these days, beyond the fundamentals itemized above, are authenticity, honesty and the ability to inject some excitement into my life. I’ve got all the basics covered, thank you very much. I want someone to elevate things, damnit.
In less than five years, amazingly, I’ll have earned the luxury of retirement. Far too frequently, I’ve witnessed people who are important to me attain this same privilege only to discover that what they had planned to enjoy with their own beloveds, is no longer an option. Financial situations change and health issues arise to throw a wrench into even the best laid plans – and it sucks.
This morning I had breakfast with a woman I met when I was a grad student. She was an important mentor to me earlier in my career and we’ve maintained a friendship, albeit, most often online these days. She had reached out to me recently and asked if we could get together. She wanted to tell me something.
Me, in my hyper self critical manner, had been afraid that she was going to say things to me about the way I write and expose perhaps too much about my personal life. Not because she’s a judgmental person, but because she’s a smart woman who has freely shared her wisdom with me for decades.
The conversation, over eggs and hot beverages, was not at all what I expected. She made no comment, beyond offering empathy, on my current emotional and relationship status, but instead advised me to consider what might come next for me. She pointed out the position I’m in financially (fine), professionally (beyond fine) and the fact that the responsibilities I’ve borne since becoming a parent are rapidly diminishing. What lies ahead for me is, right now, actually looking pretty damn good.
As she spoke, I felt a shift in my perspective. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t as if I feel like my life is lacking in much and I’m appreciative for all I am fortunate to possess, but I certainly hadn’t considered some of the less desirable parts of being half of a dynamic duo. Things like health care proxies, a partner who might have diminished capabilities, and the understandable frustration of potentially not being able to enjoy the gift of time retirement affords to explore interests as previously imagined.
As I was mulling her words, she told me she wanted to give me something and fumbled in her handbag to locate the gift. Prior to finding it and extracting it, she explained that what she was giving me was an item which she had grown up watching her own mother use. It was important enough to her that she had taken possession of it when her mother died a few years back, but she wanted me to have it.
My eyes welled in anticipation of being gifted an item which had strong sentimental value to my friend, wondering what it could possibly be. She withdraw a gadget the likes of which I’ve never seen – an antique jar opener upon which her own independent mother had relied.
I would not be beholden to anyone to open a container which held something delicious which I wanted to enjoy.
I could do it myself.
Scratch that. I can do it myself.
Thanks, L, I’ll cherish the gift – and most especially the reminder. xo – S