“Welcome to the Otherhood.” That’s what Melanie Notkin, author of a book of the same name on the topic of childlessness wrote in my copy. I don’t actually want to be part of a group that calls itself “other” but I get why she did it. So few books available show exactly what our lives are like, outside the mythology of the woman hiding out with her cats, her career, and her lonely grief. So, when a book, or an article, or a video sees the light of day, we childless women – and some men too – come out of the woodwork to say thank you. Read more from my Zoomer Singles article
Archive for the ‘Dating’ Category
Posted in Childlessness, Dating, Family, Modern Spinster, Relationships, Solitary life, tagged Childlessness, infertility, Melanie Notkin, mid-life dating, no children, Otherhood on May 13, 2014| Leave a Comment »
Posted in Books, Childlessness, Dating, Home life, Modern Spinster, Relationships, Solitary life, tagged boomer dating, mid-life dating, Zoomer, Zoomer Media, Zoomer Singles on March 14, 2014| Leave a Comment »
Since late last year I’ve been blogging at Zoomer Singles – Zoomer Media‘s online dating site, about my crazy mid-life attempt at finding love. Readers familiar with my writing over the years know that I try to represent the rare view point of us over-50, never-married, childless women. Life looks a bit different for us renegades! You can access my blog here.
The other day I tripped on a busy city sidewalk and fell in plain public view. I can only hope my skirt didn’t fly up as I landed. At the time I was too busy trying to buffer myself from too much injury to notice. Now, anyone who knows me well will tell you I’m clumsy, so tripping and falling is not all that unusual; the one and only time I’ve ever broken anything – my foot – was during a fall from two harmless and not even steep concrete steps.
But, my recent tumble is different. It happened because I was trying to BE Kate Middleton.
One day after the Duke and Duchess left Canada, and following days of my obsessive royal watching, I tried to emulate Kate’s flawless, confident walk. Instead of the normal cautious stride of a serial klutz, head down, carefully watching my step for any potential risks, I breezed along, head high, looking forward. I wish I could tell you my heels were too high, or my shoes were too tight, but no – nothing. Just klutziness and, well, the sidewalk might have been uneven. Something the Duchess likely never has to worry about, what with all the planning and inspections and all the practicing and coaching that goes into being a royal on display to the fawning public and unforgiving media.
So, why had I taken up the mantra of “what would Kate do?”
Well, because there’s a little bit of Kate Middleton in all of us, isn’t there? Sure, she’s a Duchess now, married to a prince who will one day helm one of the most influential monarchies around. She’ll likely produce a child who will also one day inherit the throne. Her parents are now millionaire entrepreneurs, but at the time of her birth in 1982, they were airline employees. She’s what is known in British circles as a “commoner” – not so different from the women in the crowd that lined the royal wedding route with signs on their backs reading “it should have been me.” It well could have been.
Kate’s 29, born in 1982. I’m 50, born in 1960. There’s no way I could ever be her at this point in my life, but watching her reminds me of the promise that life holds in your 20s, when anything is possible, everything achievable. Life before too much heartache; thwarted dreams, lost jobs, men, parents, friends; events that can affect even the way you stand, and walk in the world. I realized, watching Kate, that I’ve developed a hunch – part weariness, part self-protectiveness. It’s been awhile since I approached my life with the confidence I once exuded, with the poise my mother insisted I learn, with the spark constantly remarked upon and admired. And, I honestly never thought life could drag me so far down that it would show in my countenance. In fact, my mantra has always been, “just keep moving forward.” Yet somewhere along the way, I stopped doing it, no matter how often I give this advice to others.
Of course it didn’t immediately occur to me why the royals gripped me so strongly. But now I see that they look exactly like I used to feel. Happy, friendly, looking out, focused on the moment, ready for anything, generally game for life.
Prince William is compelling enough on his own – born and bred to one day be King, adored and protected by his mom, Diana, Princess of Wales, he was probably one of the most photographed babies ever. Who can forget his silent, heartbreaking walk behind his mom’s coffin after her tragic death? We felt invested in his growing up, his success at school and his struggle to learn to live within the stricture of his destiny. We watched and waited to see who William would choose for a partner. And though we saw all the tabloid “waity Katy” fluff, depicting her as a woman he trifled with and didn’t intend to marry, when they finally became engaged after eight years of dating, living together and one very public break up, everyone began to focus not just on what Kate wore, but on who she really is. Who is this steady, calming influence on our beloved Wills?
We caught glimpses of her on their wedding day – elegant and glowing, she looked to the entire world nothing but ready to become the Duchess of Cambridge, with all the attention – positive or negative, and service that is involved in being a member of the British royal family.
But, it wasn’t until she stepped onto Canadian soil for her first official Royal trip abroad with her husband that we saw her true nature. Leading up to the wedding I wrote a number of feature articles on the plans and preparations and I’ll admit it, I kind of fell in love with them. Now, since I’m a journalist I’m supposed to be naturally wary, or jaded or something that I can never quite pull off. So the thing is, they looked and seemed so down to earth, that I believe I was seeing one fairly normal human being, who just happened to be born Royal and bred to be King. And one natural beauty that just happened to appear in his sphere and become the object of his affection.
Some have said Kate Middleton quite strategically became Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. That she set her sights on William at St. Andrew’s university where they both studied, and manipulated her way into his heart, that her mother helped her come up with ways to ensure she’d one day marry that prince.
Tell me, though, what teenage girl doesn’t dream of marrying a prince, real or figuratively? And if you happen to live in England and are around the same age as him, sure you’d have his photo on your wall. “Harry Hunters” have had the “spare” prince squarely in their sights for years. These are girls, mostly from abroad, who enroll in British universities and then track down Prince Harry in clubs for a chance to meet him.
At 20, when Prince Charles and Lady Diana were married, the younger Prince Andrew attended an Ontario boy’s school in Lakefield, where my best friend lived. We weren’t aristocracy like Diana, but we felt sure we had a chance with him. We may not have had the breeding but we did have the poise, the manners and, most important, pureness of heart. The princess dream starts early and dies hard, or never.
Now, I’m not looking for a prince. One good man will do. And that’s something else about Kate and my sidewalk tumble. The dapper Prince is entirely protective of his bride. Never too far from her side, he often extends a reassuring hand to her back. Since royal protocol restricts too much, or any PDA, this is his way of letting her – and us avid watchers looking for signs of affection – know how he feels (I don’t want to even talk about the adoring and knowing looks that pass between them). They are obviously in a true partnership. They are clearly there for each other.
Since stumbling is par for the course for me, I’m usually pretty good at catching myself before I fall. This time however, I walked beside a male companion – someone I’ve spent a good deal of time with, whom I trust and care for. As I began to fall, I reached out for assistance, grabbing his arm with my hand as I went down. He let it go. He didn’t catch me; he said he thought I would catch myself.
Come to think of it, if there’s anything strategic about Kate Middleton’s behavior it’s that she was smart enough to leave a man who exhibited ambivalence about her. And he was clever enough to look inside his heart and out at his options, and see he had a good thing going and went back to get her.
So, what I learned from Kate Middleton is something I used to know. A little thing called confidence goes a long way to achieving the rewards you want, and deserve.
I blame the lovely Rose Quartz earrings my cousin gave me for my birthday – the ones that supposedly attract love. Of course, that was her objective for me, though I had my doubts. But, every time I wear them something happens with men.
The other day, headed for the streetcar, a man started to talking to me as we both crossed the street. “Beautiful day,” he said. “Yes, it is,” I politely replied, and planned to leave it at that. Clearly, he didn’t. He promptly told me that, being from Brazil, he tended to be very friendly and “lovey,” I think he said! And to prove that he took my hand and, bringing it to his face, caressed it with his cheek.
Now, it’s obligatory for me to ask myself; if this man were tall, cute and a bit younger, would I have minded this type of aggressive, yet somehow charming, attention? But, he was at least a half a foot shorter than me and clearly not my type. (I hear a chorus of “you’re being too picky,” but bear with me here).
Somehow this man figured I was interested, likely by virtue of my not being affronted by the hand-to-cheek gesture, and he followed me onto the streetcar. I sat in a single seat, he sat behind me, then asked me to move to a two-seater with him. I declined. He told me then that he was divorced, had two children, and by the way loves blonds and could I guess how old he is. When I couldn’t (or didn’t want to venture a) guess, he told me he was late 40s. I didn’t say a word. Then he wanted to know where I was going, what I did for a living and if I had a card I could give him so he could call me. Again, I politely, but vaguely answered all questions and told him I didn’t have a card on me. That didn’t stop him from giving me his card, urging me to call him for a drink. This was as he got up to leave. He then bent over me and kissed me on both cheeks.
I guess this is how they do it in Brazil.
So, what’s wrong with this, as one of my male friends was quick to ask? Nothing really. It’s been awhile since anyone has tried to pick me up on the street. He was harmless, it was flattering. I’m Italian, so the touchy-feely isn’t so jarring. I do know a number of women who would have given him an earful, or at least walked away before he got too far. I wasn’t offended, or annoyed, I thought he was a nice, probably kinda lonely man. And I know a thing or two about loneliness.
I’m beginning to think I should be a little more choosy about when and where I don these powerful earrings. I do like that the Rose Quartz seems to be working as a cupid, but perhaps it might change direction a little with its target!
One year on Valentine’s Day a friend of mine invited me to an “anti-Valentine” party at a club in downtown Vancouver. At the time I was putting together a story about why men and women find it so hard to meet in that city. So I thought, at the very least I can get some really good quotes and observations about how the sexes interact. We walked in, were given a playing card and were told that there would be a guy in the room with the same card. The challenge was trying to find him.
I thought it was pretty lame actually. I mean, why can’t you just go into a club or a coffee shop, party or anywhere really, and strike up a conversation with someone. I greatly dislike anything so contrived, which is the main reason I really don’t enjoy “dates.” I prefer a casual unfolding of life, perhaps the old-fashioned way.
Soon enough, we got bored and left the party to join a bunch of gals at another kind of anti-Valentine party which was meant to be a “girl power” type celebration of friendship and comfort for us singletons. Silly.
The thing is, Valentine’s Day is just another day in the year. When I’m in a relationship it’s nice to mark the day but it’s really not the biggest deal.
This year Valentine’s Day falls one day before a newly minted regional holiday called Family Day. The combination of the two can make a single, middle-aged,, no kids gal feel sort of bereft. But rather than seeking refuge in my gal pals – many of whom are married or in relationships anyway, I prefer to shut the world out and focus on the things I enjoy in my own little settled home life. The things that I’ll one day share, in the right circumstance, with a guy who’s ready and willing.
For today though, it’s just me and the cat.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
When you’re single people love to suggest solutions. I hate dating, I think everyone does. There’s nothing comfortable about it.
At a certain point though, you feel like you at least have to try everything once. Even if it’s so those well meaning people in your life can’t accuse you of being too “picky.”
Here’s my story which was published in the November ’09 issue of More Magazine.