Our Story Begins:
Not 21 Any More!
I’m not 21-years-old any more.
It isn’t because my back hurts every day or that my hair has almost as much salt as pepper. No, I came to some serious realizations that I’m more than two decades beyond that age milestone because of my personal life.
I started dating again, much to my own surprise, more than a year ago. I even chronicled just how bizarre things were trying to find someone in a bar, or online, or through friends. It wasn’t really pretty.
I figured out, though, that I’m not 21 any more because I am dating someone and I have to step back sometimes to realize how different things are. As many of you probably have partners or spouses or what have you, let me explain to you just how different life as a single, 40-something parent is…as opposed to that young version of me:
When you are 21 you go to the bar, hang out, drink to excess and passions fly. You fall into the deep pool of her eyes (or his) and hormones rage and you give into that passion.
When you are 45 . . . you drink, maybe to excess because of the fact your kitchen looks like a disaster area from a kid’s project . . . and you meet up and fall into the deep pool of her eyes, passion surges, and you remember you have to get home to tuck the kids into bed.
When you are 21 you cannot wait to get off work and meet up and start the whole process of that first example up there. You spend every non-working waking minute together in the beginning.
At 45 . . . you steal moments. I have to be honest with you, I almost appreciate those moments more now, too. Maybe it’s meeting at their house for coffee on the way to work, just 10-15 minutes. Maybe it’s on the way home you stop just to give them a kiss. Maybe you just text message to let them know you’re thinking of them. But you think of them, regardless.
When you are 21 you pick and choose where and what you do for a date because, unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg, you have no money and you want to make it count.
At 45 . . . well, let’s be frank here. I have four kids. It’s pretty much the same.
When I was 21 (cannot speak for everyone) I thought that the whole “opposites attract” thing was sexy and the differences were amazing and exciting.
When I was 45 . . . actually before then, to be honest . . . I couldn’t always justify the differences. From either of us. Sometimes there was just no middle ground. I like middle ground now. I met someone with similarities…and those differences? I want to know what makes those differences in things and explore them.
When you’re 21 you are in a hurry. You want to move, get to the next step, time isn’t a luxury, you have to move forward, make decisions, maybe move in together, get the whole thing to another level . . . it feels so . . . damn . . . urgent!
When you are 45 . . . I have to say, I was picky. I wanted to find someone who was right for me. I wanted someone who made me happy and who I could make happy. It was about friendship as much as attraction. Slow and steady are not bad things and the more I learn, the more I want to learn. That’s pretty amazing.
When you are 21 you are selfish. Don’t deny it. You want to have that time together, nothing gets in the way. Kids aren’t part of the equation, they’re the result. You look toward parenthood.
When you are 45 . . . Kids are the first thing. I’m sorry, as much as my life is still my life, if the kids need me they need me. You either meet someone who understands that or you move on and wish them luck. It has to be the way things are. I have kids, she has kids, and they come first. That leads back to the whole “stealing moments” thing, and yes . . . it is worth it.
These are my comparisons. There are probably more . . . definitely more. When you think about what it takes to find someone, the astronomical odds that someone might just be there and compatible so many years later? Serendipity actually does play a keen role there.
What about you? Have you noticed how your life changes, dating or not, from one era of your life to another?