My Brave New World
"I never imagined that, at the age of 42, I'd fall truly, madly, deeply in love with my best friend"
It’s a new dawn… 2018 is barely out of the blocks and my name has finally appeared in print at the top of a magazine article! “Anonymous”! My heart swells with satisfaction! The only fly in the ointment is seeing the stark truth that follows: “a reader in her 50s…”!
Is that really me? It IS. I know it is, but it still does not compute with how I feel. My birth certificate will tell you I’m 51, but my brain still defiantly thinks I am in my twenties. Which could lead to embarrassment. Not for me, but perhaps for my children. Because, although it is a truth universally acknowledged that all teenage children are embarrassed by their parents at some point, I guess that doesn’t give me licence to come over all Ab-Fab-Eddie in my behaviour, which consequently allows my 17 year-old daughter’s latent Saffie tendencies to burst into eye-rolling, tutting life.
I do understand her irritation really, as no adolescent or twenty-something sees me as anything other than a middle-aged woman, one who should behave with the maturity and decorum that age bestows. By rights, according to the general opinion in the South-east, Kentish countryside where I live, I should be sporting a Boden Breton top and Capri pants, not channelling my inner Shane in hip-bone-scraping jeans and white vest! It is only me who thinks I’ve still got it and can flaunt it, dancing late into the night at the only gay club in town. And, if you look closely at the club’s Facebook Christmas party photos, there is evidence to prove it. Just don’t tell my disapproving daughter!
I attribute my (somewhat self-deluded?) youthfulness of mind to the fact that these days my heart is working overtime, as I discover afresh the fizzing joys and anguished woes of new love, something perhaps more traditionally associated with teenagers and people in their twenties. In fact a friend of mine was telling me recently about the intensity of her 20-year-old daughter’s new love. “Makes me feel very old,” she sighed, expecting me to concur. But secretly I disagreed, knowing that my own intense feelings were more akin to the daughter’s than the mother’s.
Yet I am far away from being 20, so for this middle-aged, up-until-now-straight woman, what an unexpected and mind-blowing love this is! She is on my mind when I wake, and I drift off to sleep dreaming about her. The sight of her pressing her nose to the window of the shop where I work lifts my spirits through the roof, her smile makes me melt, and her voice… oh…. My levels of desire and yearning are off the scale. But it is not that I am just behaving like a love-struck teenager all over again. The truth is, I simply DID NOT feel or behave like this the first time around! Sure, I fell in love, and I did love my husband, for over twenty years. And yet… it wasn’t a heart-bursting, stomach-churning, passion-fuelled love like THIS.
Back then, in the late eighties, I was doing what was expected. In the world I grew up in, there was virtually a blueprint for how to behave as a heterosexual young woman, and in truth it didn’t cross my mind to be anything else. So I took the well-trodden, traditional path of marriage and children, without a second thought. And I was happy. My husband and I had a good relationship and we got on well, as friends and as parents to our three children, whom we both adored. We enjoyed doing the same things and I guess I assumed that life would just continue much the same. In all honesty, I was so busy getting on with my life with three kids, that I didn’t give it much thought. So I hadn’t seen it coming at all when, at the age of 42, I fell truly, madly, deeply in love with my best friend.
And with that, my conventional, predictable life was gone.
I didn’t go looking for this love.
I didn’t foresee that it would turn up at the school gates as it did. It came upon me like a tornado, quiet and difficult to identify from a distance, but then more powerful and hard to ignore as it came into close view, whipping me up, taking hold of me by the shoulders and shaking me to the core. And then setting me down again in the changed landscape of my life, one where, with the help of DIVA, the entire boxset of The L Word, and Carren Strock’s book, Married Women Who Love Women, I began to navigate my way in this brave new world of my new-found sexuality.
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