Sunday, April 5, 2009
WHEN AN OLD LOVER RETURNS
Attention Female Boomers, (this is not a man's issue)
I am single, living alone and learning to enjoy the fruits of my being. I was just dancing along in my life with three great days of tango dancing when suddenly an old lover returned.
Almost five years (in July), I began to date on the Internet. I first signed up for J-Date (the preference is for Jewish men) thinking how impossible it would be to find an age-appropriate Jewish man near retirement. But what what the heck, nothing to loose and my yoga client kept prodding me into it. All right, already, I did it and, lo, behold, the first man out of the starting gate was the man I fell in love with. Now, come on, what are the odds? Playing craps has better odds. More and better, he fell in love with me. I write lots about him in my book, SO YOU'RE 6O, GET OVER IT: CONFESSIONS OF A BEATNIK/BOOMER. We hit if off like Sonny and Cher, like Abelard and Eloise, like Brad and Angelina. It was magic. Forty-five minutes after we met at my Starbucks, we were making love. It was that clear we were meant for each other. But as my mother says, repeating the words of a song made popular by Tina Turner, "what's love got to do with it?" Boy, is she and Tina right.
But three days later, in the throws of lust, he asked me to marry him.
"Where do we do that?" I asked him.
"City Hall," he responded casually.
My head was exploding off my body. I couldn't believe what was happening. A little voice whispered slow down. Be cautious of all of this sexual madness.
"We only known each other three days. Maybe we should take more time."
Four months later he told me to date other men. He thought I hadn't had enough experience dating. I had been in a long term relationship for almost sixteen years, but that ended two years prior to my meeting the Jew from the Internet. But I was sure and he had already started running away from love, from me, from commitment.
Our dance, the Ben and Joan show, has lasted for almost four years. He would call, see me, leave me for seven months, call again, see me. It was a sad and painful loop because I really fell hard. He loved me, too, but he didn't want a relationship. So really, he didn't love me, right. He was care-taking his parents, still is, busy with making documentaries, and I understood, really understood and I moved on.
I really did move on, worked on myself, went to therapy, had a boyfriend, broke up with the boyfriend (maybe I still loved Ben), saw a few men along the way, had a few one night stands with much younger men, considered myself cured and then....
A call at the beginning of March. This time a little shy of seven months. But right on time.
"Are you married yet?" he asks. He always asks that.
"Are you dating?" He always asks that.
"Because I seem to only attract schmuks."
"This is ridiculous, Joan. You are vibrant, beautiful..." Yada, yada, yada.
The catch up. Everything is fine. Family good. Finished the book. Still teaching all the same clients, lots more yoga at UCLA. All is good. Goodbye. Be well. Conversation over. Thought nothing more of it.
End of March: Email: "I give up." I called.
"What are you giving up about?" I asked.
"I can't find your number," he lied.
"You just called me at the beginning of the month," I said boldly.
"I've looked all around...."
He was tired of missing me, tired of being alone without a buddy, getting older, growing older...wanted to see me...saw me, love at first sight again.
But is it love at first sight again? I was finished with him in my book. It was cathartic to wright about it. I loved that it had ended. In my heart, I knew he could always come back for a phone visit. I could always conjure up a phone call when I felt like talking to him. I felt like a witch but it worked. But in person was something different now because I'm different.
When an old lover returns, when the intensity is still there, and there is still no promise of consistency let alone commitment, what's it all about Alfie? At this moment, writing this blog on a Sunday with no call (it's a weekend, buddy!), I am sure he is the same man five years ago. I knew he couldn't bring himself to be available on a Sunday when a couple in love likes to hang out at a movie or at the local art fair today. He never did before and he cannot do it now. I'm not close to the top of priorities. His promise to work on changing is nothing but wishful thinking. He can't. I told him men don't change. A zebra cannot change its stripes. He is just lonely, needs a buddy, a hug, sex from time to time, but his priority remains the same: he is his priority. His needs, his responsibilities. I told him once, near the bitter end, that he expects the woman to give everything and he gives nothing in return. If he gives it is at his convenience. Maybe it's common for men; maybe it isn't. Women give no matter what. We are givers and nurturers and, sometimes, fools.
The good news is that I have no expectation and attachment to an outcome. I'm still having fun in my single life and it feels good. How long will this situation last with the same old, same old with Ben. Not very long. I'm wiser now, more confident. You'd think it's about time since I'm blasted 65!
Oh, but age doesn't matter in questions of love. Isn't it odd that women's relationships with love and men, no matter the age, is fraught with common threads if obsolete expectations and romantic fantasies. We've all experienced these common threads since we started to date and fall madly in love with the high school football quarterback. Gender relationships are difficult enough to sustain, but you'd think by 60 that things would just mellow out. It can be the case or it doesn't have to be the case. Stay balanced and in the center of your being. It works.
So the lesson here is to be slightly detached about the whole business of old lovers, new lovers, old husbands, new husbands and not let our emotions get ahead of the present moment. I am in the present and it's very powerful.
I salute all our divine sisters who have ever been in love.