LK Walker

LKWalker

LKWalker
Location
New England,
Birthday
December 03
Bio
LK teaches yoga and meditation. She has written a musical, SLaM the Hockey Rock Opera, produced in New England, which is in development for an off-Broadway run next year. She is currently finishing her first novel and also writing a memoir about the business of yoga.

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JULY 19, 2011 12:12PM

Dante's Tenth Circle

Rate: 31 Flag

 

 

 

When my fiancé broke up with me last August, he consigned me to the tenth circle of Dante’s hell: Dating As A Woman Over Forty.

 

The dating pool for the 40 year old woman is frighteningly slim.  The men have no hair, or missing teeth or four kids and a nasty ex-wife, or one kid and an ex-wife they’re still in love with.  Or they’re handsome and youthful and chasing 25 year olds.  Or they’re disillusioned with love and all the heartbreak and have decided to leave society and go build a cabin in the wilderness.  

 

And then, of course, is the way potential daters looked at me.  Why is this woman still single at 40?  What’s wrong with her? Is she going to be desperate to have a baby?  This relationship is not going to be fun and relaxed and flowy.  She is going to have an agenda.  A serious agenda.  And plus, she’s aging, over-the-hill already.  Used up.

 

I was one of only three women I knew who were my age and unmarried.  Several of my friends were already on their second marriages.  Most of them had one, two or three children.  One or two houses.  One or two pets.

 

I had no children, a drafty farmhouse, a dog, a cat, and six chickens.  And very, very, very little dating experience.

 

I met a long-haired, doe-eyed man at a street festival in Vermont. He was age appropriate, also had never been married, and had no stray children.  This alone was something of a miracle, and a rarity.  He was also incredibly sweet and handsome and a great kisser.  He picked me up and carried me over a puddle on our first date and we ate oysters and drank ice cold vodka.  But he was also 40 years old and owned two towels, and slept in a sleeping bag on a king sized mattress on the floor, and got blotto drunk at least three times a month.  He checked out every other woman in the vicinity when we were together.  And he was still in love with his ex-girlfriend, whom he talked about constantly, extolling her beauty while railing against her weak and childish heart.

 

In addition to his two towels, he had a motorcycle, a 33 foot sailboat and a pick-up truck, along with various and sundry hiking, climbing, camping and skiing accoutrements.  He was a playboy.  But he had a skill set I found extremely attractive.  He could build things, and fix things, and grow things and make things.  I’d been brought up with the intellectual crowd.  Those guys who couldn’t wield an axe or even identify a carburetor let alone fix one.  I was a sucker for calloused hands.  I called him my Frat Boy.  But even then I knew I needed, at the very least, a Frat-Man.

 

There was the New York City J-Date guy who seemed promising enough, with his full head of movie star hair and his sexy name, Leonardo.  But when we finally spoke on the phone, he had the whiney voice and angsty demeanor of Woody Allen and  turns out he wasn’t sexy Leonardo, but impossible, Lenny Gross.  He broke off our first date because he couldn’t pass up a bargain discount he got at a different ski area from the one where we were supposed to meet.

 

There was the grizzled hippy man with the floppy hat playing the accordion who didn’t own a car, which made it very difficult to meet up in rural Vermont.   And the sexy looking guy with the fedora who wasn’t opposed to kids but just ‘couldn’t have them himself.’  And did not elaborate on that.

 

My sister set me up with an age appropriate man who lived five hours away but insisted he wanted to meet me after discovering that I was also a welder.  But I made an 18 foot long three-dimensional fence with ocean waves and starfish and whales woven into it.  He made stainless steel kitchens with crisp, clean corners and hidden, smooth edges.

He drove all the way up from New York State to meet me for coffee and we labored over the steaming cups like a bad interview.  Even the polite questions fell like pennies into a hollow well.

 

My family begged me to move on and forget my fiance and find a man who really wanted to marry and hurry up and have a child before it was too late.  But what could I do?  I couldn’t rush the hands of fate. I didn’t tell them about my dating escapades as I didn’t want to get their hopes up.  It was bad enough to get my own hopes up and I couldn’t handle the double disappointments.

 

I already had to struggle with a certain sense of pity that came from almost everyone I knew, and also total strangers.  Poor you, not married, who do you have to go to bar mitzvahs and funerals with?  It must be so hard to be all alone.  Or just the more subtle long pitiful sideways glance which I couldn’t help absorbing then feeling ashamed myself.   Why was I a 40 year old single woman?  Why couldn’t I find and keep a man?  What was wrong with me?   I must be defective in some way.  And then of course, pitiable.

 

The other problem was that I became suspect - a single woman among all these couples, many of whom had rocky relationships.  What were my intentions in fact, at that dinner party when I’m alone in the kitchen with the incredibly handsome man, husband of the lovely angry woman slamming tequila in the living room.  I always tried to be non-threatening, wore loose fitting clothes and my glasses and kept my hair pulled back in a ponytail or tight in a bun.  But I couldn’t always deflect the wandering eye of the unsatisfied man.

 

And too, at those dinner parties 38 year old women would talk about finally having a baby at 35, when they knew their biological clock was almost run out.  I’d stand idly by, silent, nursing a lemonade.  What could I say?

 

I, too, wanted a child, a husband, a family.  But desperation smells sickly, like fear, and brings on the wild dogs.  And I didn’t feel desperate.  Just a strange sort of unrest.  A loneliness, and a pale sadness, like a smudge on the lens of camera, or like looking up from underwater to the surface of the world.

 

One night on my last date with Frat Boy - a three night bender that included motorcycle riding, skinny dipping, excessive alcohol consumption, half-naked yoga and recreational knife throwing - I met an angel.

 

We had gone out to a dance club and drank too much vodka and beer.  This young woman leaned against the bar.  She was gorgeous, with long, black, curling hair and dark clear eyes behind Wonder Woman glasses.  She had angel wings tattooed on her back and drank Jack on the rocks, as only a modern angel would.

 

She pulled me aside and up to the open air balcony to which only she had access.

“What are you doing with that guy?” she asked, and then said, “Can I be blunt?”

“It’s just a transition thing,” I said, “My RR - rebound relationship.” Hiding the small lie that I was already falling for this player and wondering if I could fill in his lacks somehow because he had so many likes.  I liked how he kissed me, how he kept his eyes open, how he looked into my eyes so deeply, and so often.   I knew eventually he would get over his ex, just as I would eventually get over mine, and eventually we could possibly fall in love with each other.

“He’s a frat boy and a flirt,” my angel continued, immediately naming what I was trying so hard to ignore.

“I know,” I said, my enthusiasm deflating slightly as she spoke.

She lit a joint and passed it to me.

“He’s cute and all, in a surfer boy way, with his bleached blond hair and his ripped bod.”

“Yeah, he’s ripped,” I smiled, remembering curling up with him, fingers interlaced, limbs entwined.

“Yeah,” she smoked, “he’s cute and all.  But you’re beautiful.  You’re gorgeous.  You could do so much better.

I looked up at her, blushing in the darkness.  I didn’t feel beautiful, I felt old, sagging, tired.

“I mean it,” she said.  And she said it again.  “You’re beautiful.  You could do so much better.”

I felt her anointing me with her open, kind and generous heart.  I felt my own heart fluttering, hopeful.

We lived in a world that valued her far over me, for her youth, her youth, her dazzling youth.  For her impending fecundity.  She was the desired one in our society.  I was past my prime, reject-able, dated not datable.  The world of men wanted her, not me.  I should best take what I could get, whatever I could get, and be happy.

But she intervened, this tattooed angel, to remind me that we weren’t in a zero sum game.  There wasn’t need for settling or denying, or even self-pity.  I felt a dizzy wave come over me, that wasn’t from the alcohol or the pot.  It felt like some of her youth and optimism re-ignited my own youth and optimism.  The spirit that is stronger than the body.  

Ultimately no one knows what this world will bring.  Sometimes bounty or famine, sometimes loss.  Sometimes love.  There was nothing to do with it but move on.  The Frat Boy would find his perfect woman, and I knew it wasn’t me.

And I would find my perfect man too.  And all of the sudden, I knew that I had plenty of time.  The perfection of everything is hard to see in a moment of lack or a moment of loss.  But my failure to trust in that moment wasn’t proof that the moment couldn’t be trusted.

The angel took my arm and we walked back down the rickety stairs to the bar.  She gave me a hug and her email address and went back to the bar where the sea of men parted and waited to flirt with her.  She gave me a wink and ordered another drink.

I went back to the dance floor and spun with my Frat Boy one last wild and sexy night.

To live in the moment, and honestly so, is the only way to move forward into the best future for yourself.

One day my prince will come.  But right now, I’ll just dance to the music.

 

An edited version of this piece is published on Salon.com  

 http://www.salon.com/life/feature/2011/07/26/dating_over_40_open2011


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In the meantime ...
stay out of lockdown.
jails may have good grub.
victuals surpass mom cooks.
She suggested to go to jail cell.
That way we get 3- square meals.
Interesting. You even arc weld.
I may hop in my P.U. truck.
I have a pet rock I'll carry.
I dust it off 3- X's a month.
I shed worldly vanity cares.
A hermit hut is enough for me.
Thanks. I reread. Bless you.
I consider a ride up North.
I am too old though. Oho.
Nicely said. Dating is like walking through a fragrant, floral field filled with landmines.
I haven't tried to date in Vermont, but my sister has for years, and it is a sad sad world. Greatest state to live in for women, for social services, health care, child care, education... probably to make up for the lack of husbands. I understand that to turn up at least ten men in your range (on dating sites), you need to include Montreal and Plattsburg.... yikes
I can understand and empathize with so much of what you wrote. It's not easy to hear, as I've heard it many times too, but it is better to be on one's own than to be with the wrong person. You might meet a guy who would make a good husband but a lousy father. Or vice versa. Wait. Good things can come to those who are willing to wait for the right one. At least I hope that is true.
You know what they say about frogs and a prince.
Did you ever think you were simply attracted to the wrong kind of men?
You want two things.... one, a husband, is only barely within your field of control, so yes, let go and see what happens. The other (and in my opinion far more important) is a child. That IS within your control. Go get yourself one or two, and live the life you have imagined....
"One day my prince will come. But right now, I’ll just dance to the music."

Even if he never does, you can still dance to the music, and you're STILL better off waking up by yourself. There's no worse loneliness than in a bad marriage.

Maybe you just need another social circle--one that doesn't pity you b/c you haven't found "twu wuv and mawwage" like THEY have.

Remember: your lifestyle could be what THEY envy, even though they'll never admit it, least of all to you. Living well really IS the best revenge.
I love your descriptions. I've dated over 40, too. Hang in there, there are a few good ones left.
wonderful story. I was expecting a different ending. Cool, marvelous story....
You're luck has already begun to change with the benediction of your whiskey swilling angel. Mine did ... and I'm waaay older than you.
haha it sounds like you should have asked the girl out on a date....
you say love is not a zero sum game-- thats true to a degree....
translated from the infinite into 3d, it always seems to end up that way....
as for the frat boy dude, I dont know whats wrong with dating him mildly while you look for other guys, unless you find it too time consuming.
Plenty of Fish. Craigslist. Match.com. The street corner, Art gallery, bars, neighbors and friends. Been there done it all and I'm back out again at 64. Geez. They go crazy, die and get annoying. But Im a flirt. I love juggling men. I will until I die. Even my mom still does it at 92 so it must just be my heritage. You have more courage than most people for putting yourself out there in the choppy sea. Live your life the best you can and keep looking. Thanks so much for this well written post.
Right on, Sister! By fifty you realize you don't even want one (it's like shopping at Goodwill at this stage . . .)
I love your description of the Woody Allen-ish guy. great read. I wish you the best and yes, you'll meet the right person. Ignore the societal pressure and follow your own instincts.
Really well written piece. Many wonderful phrases. Love the first line.

Been there, felt all those things (except maybe the kid thing). The answer for me, after years of trying to fill a void in my life after my husband passed away young (I was 34), was to simply do as you are doing -- dance with life. Life is a gift, and everything around us and within us is a gift. Simply be grateful for the bounty.

Good luck.
Witty. ~ Pleasurable read ~

May your music never stop, may you find someone worth your while to dance with soon.

*R*
I am one of those men over 40. No hair, no children, never been married, and disillusioned with the dating game. Just today, I was looking at house plans fantasizing about my cabin in the wilderness - because the last 25-year-old I asked out turned me down.

What if you never get married and never give birth? Do you think you could learn to be okay with that? Yes, it is different for men than for women - the stigmatization, biological clock issues, etc. But there are plenty of us living the single life and enjoying it, taking advantage of the perks that come with being unattached. (But you might have to get out of Vermont to hang with us as we tend to favor big cities.)

For a different perspective on flying solo...

http://open.salon.com/blog/newurbanblend/2011/06/28/why_coupling_is_not_on_my_bucket_list

http://open.salon.com/blog/newurbanblend/2011/02/21/35_signs_you_might_be_a_confirmed_bachelor
This is such a well-written piece. Your pleasure and love of life shine through in so many lines. Your tatooed angel is right--you deserve to be with somone who really appreciates all the beauty that is you. Enjoy the scenery on the way, but don't sell yourself short.
Excellent writing...really enjoyed it! Good luck to you...
As a veteran of the old-folks dating scene in a fairly rural state, I can attest the lack of potential for eligible mates who carry all the "stuff" our 25 year-old minds still list as important attributes.

But...40 years old? My god, girl, you're just a pup!

Hang in there. Seems to me there are tons of 45+ males, newly or fairly recently divorced who have much to offer - even in Vermont. And if I'm wrong, I suggest setting up your geographic parameters to include NYC.

If we guys spot a good fish, we will cast long and hard to get her to rise to our fly. I got one halfway across the country. Sure, it was hard to see her at first, but in time, we spent weeks at a time with each other. Pure delight.
"But desperation smells sickly, like fear, and brings on the wild dogs. And I didn’t feel desperate. Just a strange sort of unrest. A loneliness, and a pale sadness, like a smudge on the lens of camera, or like looking up from underwater to the surface of the world." Man, can you write!
I can empathize, having met my husband at the ripe old age of 41. He is a bit younger than me, but we are soul mates. I'm sure you will find your Mister Right, but for now, dance to the music, as you said.
Same ole story, right? Woman goes for rugged bad boy (please, no baldies), he turns out to be a child in man's clothing, relationship doesn't work out, and she's single again. Rinse. Repeat.
"The perfection of everything is hard to see in a moment of lack or a moment of loss". A beautiful line.
My wife left me at age 48 and I so relate to your story from a man's point of view. Thank you for this gift of your experience.
"The perfection of everything is hard to see in a moment of lack or a moment of loss". A beautiful line.
My wife left me at age 48 and I so relate to your story from a man's point of view. Thank you for this gift of your experience.
"The perfection of everything is hard to see in a moment of lack or a moment of loss". A beautiful line.
My wife left me at age 48 and I so relate to your story from a man's point of view. Thank you for this gift of your experience.
If you thought that dating after forty was scary, try it a decade later! Though I looked at it as an incredible learning curve, most of the learning was about myself. And I absolutely get the attraction of a guy with calloused hands who can fix stuff. We've been together for four years now! Here's the link to the journey...
http://runningwithstilettos.blogspot.com/2008/08/turbo-dating-year-in-review.html
welcome! Angels appear in many ways.
I read your story two days ago. Yesterday someone wrote that they did not think a grocery list could be a poem, so I wrote one. While I was writing it, your voice came through and took over the poem, so that some of your thoughts expressed here inspired what I wrote.

Grocery List of Dreams
http://open.salon.com/blog/surazeus/2011/07/20/grocery_list_of_dreams
Fun Read. I would be the 52 year old with 4 kids looking at this from the other side of the divide while criss crossing the MA/NH border in various locales.
Everyone deserve the right to find the right one. Sometimes it just takes time which is pretty precious at some ages.
I couldn't agree more about guys who know how to fix things.
Now now. Us guys over 40 have plenty of hair. Now, if you'll excuse me, it's time I combed my back.
Strive for the worst in yourself and others. Settle for nothing less.
You have just made me smile very wide!
You have just made me smile very wide!
I really liked what you wrote. It was honest, heart-felt and and at turns, ironic, funny and optimistic with a strong dose of realism.

Your piece really spoke to me. It got me to thinking about what it means to be growing older and the longing for youth. And the pressures of culture (i.e., how much we are molded by what others want and expect from us). And how you are transitioning toward a new depth of awareness, about yourself and about who you are in the world. That your piece is more a beginning than an ending is what makes is all the more interesting. Well done!