“Wait! Wait! What?”
I heard myself repeat the story a second time. “She’s decided to end her marriage and move here to New York—so, I’m looking for a bigger place. Preferably something with woods and a creek nearby, because she’s very attached to the land and to animals.”
“And you’ve never actually been in the same room together?”
“Does Zoom count?”
“Oh my God!”
And so typically ends the conversation with one of my friends—or should I say, many of my friends. I feel as though the timbre and general mood has always taken on this kind of righteous parental trepidation.
“At 50 years old, you have decided to shack up with a woman that you met through the Elephant Journal writer’s page on Facebook?”
The short answer is, of course, yes.
Not to nerd out too much on cavalier poetry of the 17th Century, but I also feel “Time’s winged chariot” at my back. This would be a natural reaction to anyone who might be turning 50 in the world we all knew and loved in 2019, but in the 2020 post-COVID planet, it takes on much more gravity.
As I have intimated on previous pieces for Elephant Journal, I am an essential worker with an auto-immune issue, and I do not feel the luxury of waiting for a more appropriate time to begin living my life. This happens when one is faced with the possibility of ending one’s life every time they mistakenly scratch their nose. As funny as that last sentence sounds, this is our new world.
I am a naturally intuitive man and I can feel, in a very palpable way, the frustration that my loved ones seem to be butting up against at the conclusion of these uncomfortable conversations. Their battery of “what-if” scenarios are all generally the same: what if there’s no chemistry when you finally meet? What if you find out three weeks into it—or even three days into it—that you made a terrible mistake?
Believe it or not, the answers to these hypotheticals are not as tragic as one might expect. One of the great things about the United States is that—barring unprecedented pandemics—we are free to move around and change our mind any time we want. We can “take the plunge,” as it were, and should things go utterly awry, we can move on and tend to our wounds and write articles about the painful life lessons we’ve just experienced.
The greater tragedy, as far as I am concerned, is to sit alone in a one-bedroom apartment and not have taken that chance. There is as much opportunity for my new situation to be the best move I ever made as it is to be the worst.
More than all of this, though, is the real fact that I am in love with this person and she is in love with me.
We talk on the phone every day for hours, we hold space for each other, we are utterly consumed with each other. Without her, I would have awakened on my 50th birthday this past week, to nothing more than what I always wake up to: make lunch, take a shower, drive to work, and trade another 12 hours of my life for the money to pay for the gas to get back the next day.
Instead, I woke up to her mail, her poetry, and her art. I felt special and wanted and there were years of my life that came and went without feeling either of those things.
I do have an incredible amount of gratitude for my protective friends, but I plan on doing what I have been doing since early adulthood—whatever I want.
I’ll be the first to admit that this course of action has not always worked out in my favor, but it leaves me feeling a sense of autonomy that I absolutely require to enjoy any degree of mental health.
I simply can not alter my plans based on the wise advice of others. I want to be the creator of all my own disasters and all my own happy endings.
So friends, thank you for your concern, but please keep all of your “what-ifs” to yourself. I am in love.
Delicious, freeing, wonderfully giddy, heart pounding, exciting love—and I would not trade these days for all of the mature decisions in the world.