An ex-friend once introduced his wife to the woman he was leaving her for. While his wife was in the hospital. With their newborn child. On Christmas Eve. Sheesh. The shmendrik should have written for General Hospital! Or better yet, been hit by a bus.
But I really love her.
Let me explain.
Over thirty years ago, I met a smart, beautiful girl with English pottery skin, chestnut hair, and unfathomable green eyes. I was crazy about her. In due time we became not just lovers, but best friends. Yes, I know it’s a cliché, but it was true; no one had ever known me the way she did. And so we married, had kids, the whole bit.
But that was then, this is now. I was a different man then. The girl I married suited me. More than suited me, loved me and cared for me with all her heart. (I’m sounding like a bigger and bigger jerk by the moment, aren’t I?) But in time I matured and came to need someone who understood the person I’d become.
Would it surprise you to learn that the girl I’ve fallen for is not a proverbial 20-something hottie? (Hey, I could get that if I wanted it!) To the contrary, she’s an older woman who’s experienced the slow-mo shattering of dreams, the left-handed appearance of joys, and so many of the things I’ve been through. She understands me in ways the woman I married never could. And I understand her more. Our love is deeper, more all-encompassing. Far from disliking the delicate lines around her eyes, I treasure them and never tire of caressing them. And although her hair is a lovely mahogany, I know that left to its own devices it would eventually be tinged with silver. And I would love that too. (There is one thing she shares with the woman I married: those unfathomable green eyes.) Oh, and would it surprise you to learn that my wife has also fallen in love with someone else? It’s an older man with white hair and a hint of wattling about his neck.
By now you may have ferreted out my National Enquirer-ish ruse: the girl I married and the older woman I’ve just described are the same person. And yet they’re not. Which, of course, is my point.
I once saw Margaret Mead, the famous anthropologist, on The Tonight Show and was influenced for awhile by her views. She was bee-busily laying the groundwork for the 70’s by, among other things, declaring that marriage to the same person one’s whole life was joyless incarceration, and that people should marry (at least) three times, like she did. She apparently never figured out that no one stays married to the same person their whole life. I wake up next to a different woman every day (print that, National Enquirer)! And she wakes up next to a different man. Which is part of what I love about being married (or at least being married to Trudy Teemley). And part of what’s so frickin’ challenging about it!
A friend once told me after his first child was born, “Our marriage is OK, but you know it’s not about us anymore; it’s about him (the baby).” It sounded so selfless. Selfless and fatal. I knew that moment that his marriage was doomed (they divorced five years later). Our children have thanked us dozens of times for loving each other, half-intuiting and half-understanding that it’s probably the greatest gift we ever gave them.
So “Happy Anniversary!” to the wonderful woman I’m with. And to all the women she’s been. But fair warning, darling: any day now I’ll be falling for a new woman, one who’s a little older than you. And has unfathomable green eyes.