As a single woman, I have learned a few things in the last few months. First, I am capable of having a crush on someone. Second, I am capable of eliciting a crush in someone else. Wow…that was powerful! Feeling like an old, ugly, tired and used up widow, you have no idea how good that felt. Crushes are fun. The moon seems a little brighter, sleep not as important, smiles sneak out at random times. I’ve had lots of crushes in my life. They don’t feel a whole lot different at 51 than they did at 16. I like them. They remind me that I am alive…and that a certain part of me is nowhere close to dead. And yet, they are not a relationship. A relationship with all of its beauty and its warts.
It takes a long time to train a man. After spending 25+ years training one, I am not sure I have enough life left to do it again. There is the obvious training that goes along with being roommates. Managing chores and money and space. There is the balancing act of a long-term friendship. Solo time vs time together. Joint adventures and telling of others. Managing jealousies and different passions. There is also learning how to love…just where to place that hand, and how to say, “You’re squishing me”, without abruptly ending the hug. It takes a long time to train a man, but in my experience, there are 3 things that can’t be taught. They have to be a part of a person’s soul…they cannot be practiced and perfected….they are just there.
1) He has to know how to cry: Life hurts sometimes. This is not about thinking that the world is a horrible and hopeless place. Jim cried at chick flicks, when sharing stories of his struggling students, and at the thought of losing me. I will likely cry at certain times for the rest of my life over the loss of Jim, and I know that I am not done being exposed to grief and pain coming at me from other directions. Sad things happen. It is OK to cry. Someone who is only open to the joy in life is only living half a life.
2) He has to know how to play: I’m not talking recreational sports, here. Jim worked hard as a teacher, and sometimes he worked too hard at his recreation. But, he could be goofy, too. He knew that the best part of a mountain bike ride was the snack and the nap. I could drag him away from packing boats on a hot summer afternoon to plop down in the kid’s wading pool. When we used to race triathlons, he sported a rubber duck on his helmet….and loved to sneak away from the kids on river trips to the “grown-up beach”. In hind sight, the only indication that there was something wrong with Jim’s brain that summer before diagnosis, is that he had forgotten how to play. Life can be absurdly funny, and is far too short to take seriously.
3) He has to know how to talk: This is not dominating every conversation, nor being the life of the party with all the witty sayings. It is the person that can sit on the side of the river and tell you what is in their heart. They will listen to you, and care about what you have to say…even before it makes sense to either of you. Jim struggled with this. He always wanted to fix things before I had ever figured out what the problem, if any, there was. I now have friends that provide this for me in abundance.
So…I’m capable of crushes going in both directions. I know what the deal breakers are in pursuing another relationship. Suppose it’s time to put it out there…in the paper, on Match.com….plaster it on my forehead. But how would it read? “Widowed female, petite and 51. Happy because she has the best group of friends and family in the world. Satisfied with her bittersweet life, and not sure she wants to mess with it in any way. Looking for a guy who feels the same for mutual crush”. Hmm….I don’t think that would get too many bites.