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older coupleLove Among The Ruins, Older Folk And Other Places
by Marjorie Dorfman

On Valentine’s Day, this special holiday honoring lovers everywhere around the world, it’s time to count the older among us who love just as passionately now or maybe even more than when we were younger. If this sounds like a stance of sorts, well, I guess it is. The cinema and television rarely depict older couples in the throes of passion. (How do you think they learned to do it so well? Takes years of practice.) Read on for some more thoughts on the subject, whether you feel you are old enough or not.

gradparentsPerhaps the only television show where women are depicted as sexy babes over the age of fifty is the now defunct "Golden Girls." It was a fine and funny show, but unique in that regard. To my knowledge at least, there are no others like that. What we find instead on almost any channel and in almost every film, is an outpouring of youth and testosterone dripping everywhere about (Not a bad thing at all, mind you, but it’s just that there’s more to life than that.)

The experiences gleaned from just living every day change all of us, and sometimes in ways so subtle we aren’t even immediately aware. We can’t go back to what we were in our youth, and we shouldn’t want to. There is no reality or chance for transformation there, only memories of what was or should have been (Shadows of woulda, coulda, shoulda need to be put to sleep forever.) The past was then; this is NOW with all the wonderful implications for sharing, caring and loving.

mature loversFor older folk, a group to which I must reluctantly admit that I belong, love is still a warm and fuzzy thing. That’s the good part when it’s real. When it isn’t real, it’s the same bad experience no matter how old you are when experiencing it. I myself have found serenity with the process of love and sharing at this stage of my life, which is something I could barely dream about when I was twenty-five. Twenty-five is a wonderful age, brimming with promise, but so is fifty-five and sixty-five for the very same reason; life and its dynamic cycle of joys and pain.

I can only say that for me in my younger days I was always attracted to the wrong kind of man. Living on the cutting edge can be exciting, but it can also be a very sharp and fruitless ride. I kept searching for Rhett Butler, but he never came to any of the cocktail parties I attended. Then one day I realized that even sexy Mr. Rhett came to every relationship with his own particular set of matching baggage. My romanticism did not die; it simply narrowed its horizons. (Wish I could say the same for some parts of my body!)

Actually for the older among us, it’s like that old Frank Sinatra song, The Second Time Around. (If you are still on your first, tenth or fifth time, what I am about to say will still apply. Trust me.) Each time we love, we both lose a piece of ourselves and gain another. It’s almost like that starfish in the sea that regenerates other limbs when one dies. I am talking about our psyches obviously, and not body parts. Each experience teaches us something about ourselves, whether we want to learn it or not. (And we are doomed to repeat it until we do learn it, damn it!) I myself wasted years claiming, "after you, I’ll break my pattern."

valentine loversTo open a door and let someone into our lives means to be vulnerable. To not do so is to miss opportunities that could have enhanced our lives. There are no guarantees or warranties that come with life, only some time on that shelf to make as much of breathing time and space as we can.

So while you are stopping to smell and receive roses on this special day honoring all lovers, remember that the years you have spent learning to love can only pay off. Let the young ones watch us and learn! (Not that they ever will for that is the way with youth.) I may not be young, but I am happy with my life partner and myself. Could anyone be richer in the ways that really count? I don’t think so.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all lovers everywhere.

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