My feet are planted firmly on the ground. My life, to an outsider, appears simple – boring, even. It doesn’t feel boring…at least not the kind of boring we ascribe to the uninteresting. Maybe it takes another soul who’s survived years of groundlessness, fear, and chaotic discontentment to understand the ethereal beauty of my day-to-day.
It’s Christmas time. The days feel holy. I am put together and here for moments I would have missed or failed to notice in the past. I’m at ease and moving through space and time with happy reverence. This Christmas, all is calm…all is bright.
The man in my life and the evolution of our relationship is my biggest teacher right now. He’s 28 years my senior. Some days that’s a thing and some days our age difference couldn’t feel less important.
He challenges some of the toughest parts of me…the parts I’ve spent years and years fortifying with emotional bricks and stubborn concrete and whatever the fuck else I’ve been able to pile high along those walls. Namely, my fiercely-protected independence and pride and unwillingness to be taken care of.
If I died tomorrow, my gravestone might appropriately read, “Here lies Brittany…she could do it herself.”
I think he’d like me to relax into his doing and giving because it is his nature to be a doer and a giver. But so am I. We butt heads in that regard. He bitches when I take my garbage out to the dumpster because he thinks I should allow him to take my garbage to the dumpster, which I think is stupid. Things like that.
The reality of our age difference forced me to confront some of these issues early and honestly and begrudgingly.
Example: money was (is) a tough one. A very tough one.
I’m currently climbing out of a decade-long financial shitshow, which resulted in a fairly hefty chunk of debt. Frugality and minimalism are now my money-mantras. Like all hard-won victories, my progress and relationship with money is a source of immense pride.
But the reality is that I’m dating a man in his mid-fifties who is quite financially secure and who most Americans would deem “successful” by silly, consumer-driven standards.
We’re at totally different stages of our financial lives and it’s taken a lot of work to find our rhythm and boundaries.
I know what people think when they see us together. Or at least I know what I’d think if I saw a couple like us together. Words like “mid-life crisis,” “gold-digger,” “cradle-robber,” and “hooker” come to mind.
From the very beginning of our relationship, I wanted to be able to stand on the integrity of my feelings for him. Even if the whole world thought this was some kind of twisted arrangement, I wanted to be able to rest in the knowledge of our truth, which is simply that we are two people who have known and cared about one another for many years and we have decided to spend this season of our lives together.
And so we continue to argue about who pays for dinner (I won once. On his birthday. He barely allowed it.). And he continues to gently coerce my body to be still and enjoy while he reminds me sex is not porn and my pleasure is important. And I continue to take my own garbage out to the dumpster and thank him for being such a wonderful man and sneak in the purchase of movie tickets and small tokens when I can.
I’ve never really allowed anyone to hold me in the ways he’s fought to hold me.
He’s teaching me how to receive. He’s teaching me how to share some of life’s burdens and how to relinquish some of my stubbornness. I love him for it.
Soon enough I’ll be sitting down to reflect on 2017 as a whole. For now, I’m enjoying the calm and the coziness that is my boring life.
Words I’m loving:
“Being enough was going to have to be an inside job.” [anne lamott]
“I don’t believe in the wisdom of children, nor in the wisdom of the old. There is a moment, a cusp, when the sum of gathered experience is worn down by the details of living. We are never so wise as when we live in this moment.” [when breath becomes air – paul kalanithi]
“The Chinese believe that before you can conquer a beast you first must make it beautiful.” [an unquiet mind – kay redfield jamison]
“This is what I know about loss:
It doesn’t get better. You just get (somewhat) used to it.
You never stop missing the people who go away.
For something that isn’t there anymore, it weighs a ton.
[holding up the universe – jennifer niven]
“It was a day, God knows, not only of rampant signs and symbols but of wildly extensive communication via the written word.” [j.d. salinger – raise high the roof beam]