It’s been a long time since I blogged. Pretty much since a year after David’s death. I’ve been grieving, getting to know how to live a widow’s life, seeing my friends, doing what I must to live single. I was even starting to get good at it, I was often happy except for lonely nights which I despised. But with some notable exceptions -my fabulous grandson Simon, helping organize the Barb & Mayday reunions – I lived a life that at least for me felt more uninspired than not. Until 3 months ago.
I’ve decided I am a woman who does better coupled. Apart from the cheating first husband I abandoned when I was 23, the 2 years from 1970-72 when I left Stew to find myself thanks to the women’s movement, I was with Stew for almost 40 years until he died in January 2006. I met David less than a year later, perhaps one year after that we moved in together. So really, if I count up to and include David’s death in 2014, I’ve been single only 5 years of my adult life. Even with my DIY machismo, this was not great preparation for being single.
I have also become more wary. I attribute it to two factors: natural aging and having 2 dead husbands. Not that it is in any way their fault, but I feel like going thru Stew’s and David’s deaths wiped away much of my Judy Gumbo risk -taking. And courage. It increased my fears, I wake up anxious, I jump to worst case scenarios at a moment’s notice. I retreated into Yippie Girl until I found myself flailing around on that too. I don’t want to give the wrong impression, I was fundamentally at ease making my way as a single in a singles world but deep down I felt discontented.
Also – I was absolutely not looking for another relationship. Goodbye to all that! (And only partly in the 1960s Robin Morgan sense. If you don’t know the reference, google it. ) My friends will corroborate that I said over and over – maybe I’d have affairs but that would be it. Anything more? Feh! Not worth the effort.
You can guess where this is leading, right? Jessica says Stew looks out for me, he brought me David and now he -and perhaps David too- have done it again. All of a sudden I have a new boyfriend. His name is Art Eckstein, he’s a DUP (distinguished university professor ) at University of Maryland. And we are definitely a couple. I’m the older woman, I’m 73, he’s 70. I’ll write another time about how we got together but I am amazed at everything we have in common: the 1960s, politics in general, hearing aids, widowhood, being Jewish, extremism (pro & con), mutual friends, even the FBI, (yes – the same agents showed up in my FBI files that he writes about in his forthcoming book Bad Moon Rising: How the Weather Underground Beat the FBI but lost the Revolution.) He listens, he’s kind, he’s really smart, he loves kids and dogs although he has neither himself. On top of that, we’re both short. Millenial servers comment about how cute we are together. And how happy.
So now I have a companion. Well, to be honest, David used to say that everybody needs their mammal, so yes, I missed most having a mammal next to me in bed. But as a single I also could not find a satisfactory substitute for ongoing consistent interaction. I have many good friends, I am so grateful I was able to work through one problem or a piece of a problem with them, but by its nature what we talked about had to be sporadic. I sorely missed the back and forth, the dialogue about both the little things and the big, the ongoing conversation that is an organic part of any intimate relationship.
Art and I have known each other for a little over 3 months but the depth and intensity of our relationship is, as we say “Amazing!” My time with him expands yet passes quickly; it feels like he’s someone new who I have known forever. Art is also a historian, he’s both pushing me and inspiring me to get back to Yippie Girl, since, he says, it’s important for our generation’s history. So now I am.
I’ll keep you posted as I can but in the meantime – It’s amazing!