Note: This was written a few months ago.
There is a song by Ed Sheeran by that title. Well, it doesn’t have the monkey part. It’s simply called Thinking Out Loud. It’s a love song sung to his girlfriend about how he will still love her just the same at age 70 as he does at 23. He tells her:
When your legs don’t work like they used to before
And I can’t sweep you off of your feet
Will your mouth still remember the taste of my love?
Will your eyes still smile from your cheeks?
And, darling, I will be loving you ’til we’re seventy
And, baby, my heart could still fall as hard at twenty three
He goes on to say:
When my hair’s all but gone and my memory fades
And the crowds don’t remember my name
When my hands don’t play the strings the same way (mmm)
I know you will still love me the same
‘Cause honey your soul could never grow old, it’s evergreen
And, baby, your smile’s forever in my mind and memory
This song always makes me sad because it reminds me of what I’m not going to have. I don’t know why I set fifty years as the magic anniversary- maybe because so few people reach it anymore? Nonetheless, I would sign all of my anniversary cards to Cousinfucker with a reminder of how many years we had left until we reached fifty years together. I started all the way back on our first anniversary: Happy Anniversary! This first year has been great. Can’t wait to spend another 49 with you!
Look, I come from a long line of people who have some serious longevity genes- two out of four of my grandparents made it into their 80s, one made it to her 90s, and I had one great-grandfather live to 98 and a great grandmother who lived to 103. But the odds of me remarrying and both of us living another fifty years is pretty slim. So, I know I’m never going to celebrate my golden anniversary. Thanks, asshole! And honestly I don’t have high hopes that I’ll end up spending another twenty years with someone else either.
All that aside (because I know there are those of you out there saying, “Focus on the positive! You can spend ten or fifteen fabulous years with someone! Won’t that be great?”) the other reason that song depresses me is because I won’t ever have that person who knew me when I was young, before kids, before life knocked me down, before Satan chewed up my soul and spit it out. I won’t have that person who knew me back when I was young and life offered endless possibilities and I was still naive and hopeful. They’ll never know me as young, thin and wrinkle-free. They’ll never know me as anything other than a mom. We won’t grow old together because I’m already old. It’s just going to get worse.
I think there’s something sweet and special about starting out at the same place in life and then growing older together- all those lean years while you struggle to get to the top, the small houses, trying to have babies, job changes, the many moves to many different states.
I’m probably romanticizing it but I think back to my early years with Cousinfucker. He made probably less than an eighth of what he makes now; we both worked and we both worked primarily second shift. We lived in a small two bedroom apartment in one of the crappiest apartment complexes in town (I moved in with him; my apartment complex- and apartment- was actually quite nice) before we bought and moved into our house. It was a one hundred year old house in a neighborhood I swore I wasn’t going to move to when we began house hunting. I loved that house, though. I have no idea what kind of square footage it had but it was three bedrooms and cost us just under $55,000. We spent weeks painting walls and stripping layers of paint off of the beautiful hardwood trim, door frames, and banister.
I was with him as he transitioned from second shift to third shift and finally to first. I remember after we made our first move and he worked third shift. We’d go out to breakfast on Fridays and then grab three or four movies to watch over the weekend. Once we finally worked first shift we’d go out to dinner and then a movie every Friday.
I was by his side as we moved from state to state and as he moved up the ladder, gradually making more with each move and buying bigger and nicer houses each time.
It was with him that I tried to start a family, suffering two miscarriages and an ectopic pregnancy before finally welcoming our daughter, and then two years later our son. I won’t ever experience that with another person again. I know he wasn’t a very active father but the fact remains that I won’t raise kids with anyone else. That’s all over for me.
After discovering his emotional affair and trying to reconcile I said to him once, “I feel like we’re just now beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.” I was referring to how difficult the past ten or so years had been, with me almost single handedly raising the kids, having no time to myself until they were both in school, and us having no time to do things together as a couple. I meant it then and I still feel that way, although obviously it no longer pertains to us as a couple.
Things were just beginning to get good. We had just moved into a beautiful, spacious home and filled it with new furniture. I had a new car. He was making enough that we could buy whatever we wanted within reason. I mean, it’s not like we could take off on vacation on a minute’s notice and drop thousands of dollars but if the kids needed something, or I wanted something we could generally make it happen. The kids were old enough that if we wanted to run to the store together or go out to dinner alone we could do that. We were finally in a position to start paying off all of our credit cards, make large payments on loans, take some nice vacations, help out family members and not have to dip into savings all the time. This was supposed to be our final move. I was supposed to start traveling with him on business trips in a few years. Our grandchildren were supposed to come to this house for the holidays.
I swear the average age in my town is around 85 so I see tons of elderly people. As I look around and see the older couples, the ones who probably have been together for forty, fifty, maybe even sixty years, I think, “I’m never going to have that. I’m never going to walk alongside my husband of fifty years, or sit outside on a porch swing, holding hands, reminiscing about our glory days of young.
As an aside, when the average age in your town is 85 that makes dating kinda difficult. Not that I’m even divorced and ready to date, but if I were…. I can see why Cousinfucker decided to sign up on ancestry.com instead of wading into the dating pool here.
Look, I know this sounds really depressing. Maybe tomorrow when I’m in a better mood and wearing my rose-colored glasses I can spin a better version of this story. One that goes something like this: You’re still young! Look at this as your chance to totally reinvent your second half of life. Your 40s are the new 30s! Your kids are teens so anyone who comes along now doesn’t have to endure the toddler/preschool/elementary ages with you; you’ll be free to go out and travel and spend time simply as a couple. You can lose weight. Your legs work wonderfully; you are not a frail, shriveled up little old lady. Look at your mother and her mother before that! Beautiful women who never showed their age. You have so much to offer and who cares about wrinkles? Men aren’t nearly as shallow as you think. You can grow older together even when you don’t meet until you’re almost 50. If you’re together from age 50 until age 85 you’ve grown old together! You don’t have to go through the lean years and the corporate climbing with the next love of your life either; you’ll be sitting on easy street. No more moves. Maybe stepchildren to welcome into the fold. The two of you will share any grandchildren that your collective children have. Stay positive!
Today, however, I’m brooding. I’m pissed that this has been taken away from me. I know Cousinfucker is an asshole and I’m better off without him. But he was *my* asshole. He was the asshole I was planning on spending fifty years with, the one I was going to grown old with. For you grammar Nazis imagine I’ve said, “He was the asshole with whom I was planning on spending fifty years, and with whom I was going to grow old.”
I keep being told that my future is going to be fabulous, that I’m going to find someone who is so much better. Did I really want to spend the rest of my life with someone who never wanted to socialize? Did I really want to spend the rest of my life with someone who sucked the joy out of life? Some days I think it’s like those barbed wire monkeys- you know the experiment they did with poor baby monkeys where they put one group in with actual mommy monkeys and then put another group in with barbed wire figures covered with terrycloth? Those poor little babies clung to them despite the fact that the barbed wire monkeys obviously had nothing to give them. They clung to what they knew. Plus, they were helpless babies. I don’t think it was a fair experiment. I’m a grown ass woman. But like the monkeys clinging to barbed wire covered with terrycloth I’m clinging to my own barbed wire monkey. His name is Cousinfucker. He’s got nothing to give me. I know this and yet it’s hard to give it up. I still think about all that I’m losing out on instead of thinking about what I can potentially gain. And believe me, it’s not that I’m losing sleep over the fact that I won’t have Cousinfucker in my life anymore. I’m so over him. As I said before, not even if he had a diamond encrusted dick! And gold plated testicles for that matter. It is still difficult to let go of the familiar. It is still difficult to let go of what I thought was going to be my future and instead focus on all the possibilities. I know, I know- throw that barbed wire monkey in the trash and set it on fire. Burn that sucker down! Melt it into a hoop which Cousinfucker can then jump through. While it’s on fire! And then bring on the real monkeys!