It’s her serenity I miss most. That and the sex.
We started going out when she was in her early 40s. Worldly yet fresh, which was good. I’m five years older than she is and, well, more than a little jaded.
We weren’t living together yet and didn’t see much of each other during the week. So Friday and Saturday evenings were entertaining, to say the least. She’d put on some sexy lingerie, heels, some jewelry, and we’d let the good times roll. We’d fool around for hours, then head out for some sushi around 10. This late-40s lifestyle was working for me.
Turns out, it wasn’t just the sex. She’d say, like, “Hey, if we’re still hanging out in the summer, we should go to Italy.” She made it loose, like, no biggie. I thought it was cute, funny. The more we hung out, the more we enjoyed each other. Before you knew it, we were singular, dedicated, which means I guess my wandering eye stopped wandering. We enjoyed similar things — art, novels, wine, traveling and, yeah, sex. Nothing unraveled her. And I needed that. She moved in. One year quickly turned into three, and five became 10 in no time. Tempus fugit, as they say.
The flash floods
Time flew, all right. A little too close to the sun, in fact. Too much heat. That’s the first thing that hit me. One night in bed, I reached for her to spoon and snuggle. She was soaking wet. The sweats. OMG. And she was on fire. I mean, how could she sleep while burning up in a puddle of water? And her temperature must have been 105. I pulled a quick retreat and rolled over to the dry side of the bed. Lonely for sure, but at least dry. I remember thinking, Oh my God, it’s frickin’ menopause! NO! My balloon has burst. This is going to go on for years. Night after night of this? No way. Of course, I wasn’t thinking of her at all. My immediate concern was for my own comfort and satisfaction. Run, boy, run. I can’t believe I’m even admitting this. But it’s true.
That was a major thing. Our lovely nights of sleeping like spoons were basically ruined. Our dream dance — deferred entirely for now and for the uncertain future.
So, OK, there was that. But there was more. Moods galore. Tears out of nowhere. Outbursts. They made no sense. At Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life was on, and we were watching and, of course, everyone cries at the end of that movie. But for a week?! I thought, Uh-oh, this is the deep end, folks.
And then there were fights, too. We had never really argued about anything before. Now, the slightest thing could set her off. At dinner I was basically banned from saying anything other than “This is delicious, darling.” She had been rock steady in my life. A dream. I’m the one who would fly off the handle with no notice. But now she would. It was peculiar and totally out of character with her easygoing, forgiving nature. We still got along, but a crack was definitely apparent in our flawless orb of love.
The elephant in the room
One of the worst things, though (for me anyway), was that the sex changed. And not for the better. My plans of Friday and Saturday evenings of abandon became more and more frequently detoured. Time and time again, one week after another, things would get waylaid (no pun intended), and the possibility of a sensual evening would end up dissolving itself into a menopausal dew.
The real love
Somehow we’ve survived. We’re still hanging out. Probably because we laugh a lot. Like I said, she’s pretty funny. And guess what? I love her. Menopause lasts awhile, and the physical symptoms linger for, like, ever. Things change. We adapt. We still have our “sex nights,” though not as often, and sometimes they morph into sex mornings or whenever. Just the other morning, at about 3 a.m., we were both up. I rolled over to her side to check the temperature, so to speak. Well, we ended up having some really hot sex! Tomorrow she may wake up tranquil, patient, like her former dream self. I’m not sure what I’m in for, but there’s no doubt … I’m in for the ride.
Tim Kirkpatrick is a writer and performer.