Tuesday, June 17, 2014

“I fell in love the way you fall asleep…slowly, then all at once.” *

Admitting to being in love, at the age of 51, seems an odd thing to do. The world does not recognize great loves that start in the middle of life…looking at the sunset years. The world delights in painting lovers are young…so very young…and yet the young seldom have a concept of what truly loving someone is really all about.

When you are 51 (as I am) and 55 (as Pat is) loving someone is more than giddy feelings (though it involves that), more than physical attraction (though there is that), and more than all the syrupy lyrics of all the best love songs (though I’ve been inspired to write poetry again these last few months).

I read a meme this weekend that said mature love is about choice.

And there is definitely that.

After years of being single for both of us, we have chosen one another for companionship. We have chosen to put the other’s needs as equal to our own and sometimes above our own because we want to. We choose to make changes in ourselves that make us better people – not FOR the other person – but BECAUSE OF the other person.

I have known Pat for almost ten years. We met in an online support group for people with anxiety and panic disorders. We hit it off almost from the start. We met in person for the first time about nine years ago when he drove through Indiana on his way home from Illinois just to meet me. We’d been talking a lot online and some on the phone, and we wanted to at least say we’d met in person.

We had a good visit. Short, but good. I liked him as a friend and he returned that sentiment.

And we kept talking off and on over the years. On the same websites, friending each other on facebook, chatting online while watching our favorite TV shows 1000 miles apart.

We’d talked through unemployment, job changes, depressions, my divorce, my college career at the late age of 46. We’d talked each other down from anxiety and panic attacks in the past...helped each other see what is and is not real in our perceptions of life around us.

During that time, we came close…a couple of times…to admitting that the feelings we had for one another were something a little more than friendship. But we’d dance close to admitting something stronger, then move away back to our own side of the dance floor and act as if nothing had happened.

I don’t know what changed.

I don’t know how we went from talking sometimes to almost every day. From the occasional (months apart) phone calls to almost daily FaceTime.

I don’t know what it was that “clicked”…but like Hazel Grace in “The Fault in Our Stars”, this falling in love with Pat seemed to come on slowly…and then was all at once just there.

We are enjoying getting to know our daily selves in our talks and online chats. We are getting used to each other’s moods. We are taking trips together and planning more to see how we get along in person.

We are 51 and 55. We did not invent love…but what we have is new with us.
When most people are planning their retirement and not looking beyond their twilight years, Pat and I find ourselves with more to look forward to. We are serious about our health in a way that we might not have been before because now there is something beyond the 50s to look forward to.

Like Hazel Grace and Gus, in TFIOS, we may not have long decades spanning out in front of us as a possibility…but there is an infinity between 0 and 1, and a bigger one between 0 and 2.

Whatever bit of infinity we have in common…

It is enough.

*John Green, “The Fault in Our Stars”

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