Saturday, October 23, 2004

Not Growing Older, Growing Roots

Today tastes like mass-produced popcorn, watery soda, and Jujubees.

I’m beginning to see that getting older is not necessarily a bad thing. (And given that there is only one way to avoid getting older, making peace seems like the only sensible solution.) One of the benefits is that years become much shorter when they aren’t such a significant percentage of your life.

Gareth and I were in line at a movie theatre, me knitting, him reading, standing in the kind of companionable silence we both find comforting. We’re big on parallel play in this house. And behind us, two twenty-somethings were discussing relationships. Since I don’t have earlids, and they were chatting loudly enough to be heard, well, I wound up listening in. (Don’t say it in public unless you want to see it in public, right?)

Ken: I’ve been with Trixie for like, two years now.

Barbie: Wow. That’s a really long time.

Ken: Yeah—I never thought I’d get into such a long-term relationship. I wonder how people who’ve been together for a really long time do it; I mean, how they keep sex interesting?

Barbie: Yeah?

Ken: I mean, like, once you’ve done everything there is to do, how do you keep it fresh?

Barbie: Maybe, well, you know how when you get older, you forget a lot of stuff? Maybe they forget about what they’ve done, and maybe that way, when they go to have sex, it’s all new and exciting again, because they don’t remember it?

As Ken began a diatribe on marital aids/sex toys and counseling, the line started to shuffle forward, so I missed the final outcome. Which all things considered was probably a good thing.

Gareth and I have shared an address for eleven years, and a name for five. We’ve been seeing each other since these kids were playing kissy games on the playground. In all that time, we’ve spent three nights apart (not counting a stay in a hostel that believed in strict boy-girl separation—wedding rings and a marriage license cut no ice with those folks).

I wanted to say, “Sex with a long-term partner is like putting on your favorite pair of jeans—the ones that are snug in the right places, but loose in others, that are so soft they’re like velvet. They’re worn and faded, but you feel wonderful when you wear them, and they make you look hotter than the blacktop in August.”

I wanted to say, “Sex with a long-term partner is like eating one of your favorite dishes at your favorite restaurant. It’s not something that gets old. You know what you’re getting; there are no surprises, only variations on a well-loved theme.”

And then I began thinking that only as one grows older does the value placed on comfort begin to crowd the value placed on novelty. We joke about older people wanting to return to their ‘own little beds’ to sleep at night; about how they talked about traveling to new and foreign places, touring the country, trying new and different things when they retired, only to find that the routine they carved out is now the one they choose to keep.

And I find that true for me too.

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