wherein age really is just a number

I doubt it’ll surprise you by now, but my partner is significantly older than I am.

I see these people making a huge deal over their six-year (!) differences or their ten-year difference and I’m all, “No way. That is not an age difference.” Because to me, especially looking at what is ten years older than me (and, soon, ten years younger — ouch), it’s not. Apparently what I need is a man who is twice my age.

Well, he was for about eleven months and will be again for a month next year.

If I regret that I will be “widowed” young (we’re not planning to marry), the regret is overshadowed a thousand times by the brilliance of what we’ve made. We clicked so fast and made so much sense to each other from so very early on that my bar is forever raised. We’re in different places in our lives; if we hadn’t been, would I now know where I want to be in five years? He had more grounding than I did in the choosing of careers. This isn’t down to age. This is down to hard work that he put in to understand himself, over fewer years than you would think. I love lying next to him, watching him click through YouTube turning up all these cool things he liked as a kid. I always felt I’d been born twenty or thirty years too late, so in a way, I feel like I’m getting something back that I should’ve had.

Things that are probably down to age: He’s done with the boozing and carousing. He’s not depending on me to put us through college. He’s well past the awkward-looks stage.

Things that are probably not: He’s big on moving with the times — he’s not mired in any past, or nostalgic for it so much as happy to remember it for me when I ask. He’s as modern as any man my age, minus the dudebro sensibilities of a lot of millennials. We’re both up on the latest in our favorite flavors of pop culture. We game together (MMORPGs can be love, too). If anything, he’s helped me remember that my life isn’t over.

Maybe it’s just that we’ve both had very full, eventful lives. There’s a point beyond which you can’t say any longer that it matters because experience will out. What we have weathered together has only brought us closer, not pushed us apart. I’m still in college — so what? His other partner went back to school in midlife. So did my father. It’s not like either of us have expectations of the way a life should go. Since neither of us sees marriage as necessary to a successful, committed relationship, it isn’t as if I’m pushing him to put a ring on it or dreaming of white dresses. We’re neither of us yearning for children. I’ve had periods of ill health, so when someday he needs me, it will only be reciprocation and love, in gratitude that we can depend on each other. We can grouse together about achy bones. “We’re in for a change in the weather,” I say. “My knuckles have gone.” Or something similar enough.

What I will always advise, when people are thinking about who to love, is this: love whoever suits you. Is age a factor? Sometimes it is. Some people grow up slowly, some fast, some not at all, and growing up happens in so many different ways that we can be adults on some levels and children on others. Loving someone who suits you means you can take what’s important into account and leave the rest well enough alone.

I was graced with this man at a time when I could finally appreciate him. That it was 22 for me and 48 for him means nothing. That it was time means everything. Mine not to question; mine only to love for the season we are given.

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