I have started dating. No reason, whatever was holding me back isn’t anymore. For me, decisions like this one are generally stewed over for a while and then, poof! the switch is thrown. Once thrown, it’s full steam ahead. Dating at 58 is no different than 18, emotionally. By 58, though, you have to worry about presentation. Presumably, you’ve acquired some wisdom and baggage by now, and daters want to know more concrete things about you (unlike young dating, where loving the same band might be the basis of a relationship). Also, it helps to know what you want and what you need. Oh, and who you are. Easy-peasy. And there’s the whole Lyme thing to explain: “Yeah the last year I’ve spent being sick. With Lyme. Uh, nothing else, just being sick.” I’ve met a few guys for coffee and here is what I’ve discovered: I’m an intellectually complex person with pretty simple wants. I’m not ambitious, career-wise. I want to write and have people read what I write, but there is no ego involved with what I do to make money. I lifeguard, right now. It’s what I can do. Am I anti-feminist if what I want is to take care of those close to me at the expense of a job? Am I regressive if I am happier and more comfortable being the woman behind the man? What value do we really place on that person who provides a warm place to land at the end of each day?
I’m financially stable, so I don’t want to depend on a man, but how do I convey this part of myself without sounding like a Stepford wife? All of this is complicated by my family history. Both my birth mom and mom were driven, accomplished women at a time when having a real career was unusual. Does my simpler needs dishonor the obstacles they faced in earlier times? My choices in my marriage come to the forefront. I have to own those, and realize that the ridiculously old-fashioned role of ‘housewife’ suits me. Actually, I prefer the older term ‘chatelaine’ which means mistress of the house. Done properly, there is always toilet paper, food, and other necessities. The sheets are always clean, the house well-ordered and fresh-smelling. There are no take-out menus or frozen dinners. Paper plates are not used except at cookouts. Sure, you can pay someone else to do all of these things or not be bothered by not doing them, but there’s a reason this role is both revered and reviled in our society.
As in all things, it all depends on your perspective. If you feel honored, valued and respected, almost anything is satisfying. One thing I’ve learned through getting older and having lots of time to think (Thanks, Lyme!) is I can embrace my nature. This is who I am. I believe there are men out there who would like to match wits with one of the world’s more complicated housewives. At least I hope so. When you’re sick for a long time you lose all sense of self, and a good deal of self-confidence. Presentation becomes a minefield of being totally honest and not scaring someone off immediately. Oddly enough, I don’t care a thing about age. As in, I am 58. Deal with it. I do care that I look healthy, happy and like I take pride in my appearance, but a girl like me will only do so much. I will not do plastic surgery, botox, anything artificial, or hair color (but I have so little gray that it’s weird!). I will do makeup, perfume and excellent foundation garments. A good bra is worth every penny. Sooner or later, if I meet someone, they will see the real me. I’d rather it be sooner.
I have dealbreakers. Don’t we all? I don’t like mean people. I like someone who’s comfortable in their own skin. Cars and stuff don’t impress me at all. Brains do. What you read and the music you like matter, to a certain extent. If you love motorcycles, skiing and football, we’re probably not going to be soulmates. And then there is chemistry. That’s…like lightning in a bottle? I’ve only experienced that rush once in my life, that instant connection. I’d like to have it again, but am I willing to wait as long as that takes? I guess we’ll see. At my age, and especially after Lyme, I want that, dare I say I deserve it? Yes. I dare.