Looking back, I can see how easily my head was turned. I was in my mid-40s and happily married, or so I thought, to a wonderful man who loved me. Busy raising our six children in the suburbs just outside New York — but still an English girl at heart.
This was my second marriage, which had been an unexpected love story. I answered an ad for a tiny beach cottage, and shortly thereafter fell madly in love with its owner. The man with twinkly blue eyes and a ready smile.
I had four children, he had two, and our families seemed to fit together. We stole away for moments of romance when the children were asleep, or on the very rare weekends when we found ourselves childless.
We had been together for six years, married for three. Our wedding had been tiny, just our families and children, one set of dear friends. We got married in front of a fireplace in a small boutique hotel in our town, both wiping tears away as we said our vows. I knew this time it would be for ever.
And then, it was on to real life. My husband would joke that life had become ‘pots and pans’: we were so busy chauffeuring the children around, cooking dinner, juggling work and family life, we didn’t have time to focus on each other.
The pots and pans of life had swiftly removed the romance. We were happy enough, even though we had little time for just the two of us, and felt permanently exhausted. I used to say (and still do), a good night was being in bed by nine; a great night was being in bed by eight.
As relationship psychologist Esther Perel says in her book, Mating In Captivity: Reconciling The Erotic And The Domestic: ‘It’s hard to experience desire when you’re weighted down by concern.’
We were weighted down by concern, children, financial commitments, exhaustion. There seemed to be little room left for desire.
My publisher asked to send me to a book conference in California. I couldn’t wait — anything work related that involved travel was a break from the monotony, a chance to remember who I was when not defined by being someone’s wife, someone’s mother.
I was to speak on a panel of authors, most of whom I didn’t know, held at a large hotel close to Disneyland. I decided to have lunch in the bar beforehand, to settle my nerves and regroup before the event. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a young, very handsome man sit next to me.
He got out some papers and placed them on the counter, and I noticed my name written on the paper. He was clearly one of the other authors on my panel, so I turned and introduced myself.
Within minutes, we were engaged in a lively chat, and as we ordered our respective salads, our conversation went from small talk about publishing and the writing life, to real talk about parents, and grief, and relationships.
At a certain point in our conversation, it occurred to me, with a jolt, that he might have been flirting with me; that there might be chemistry between us.
It had been so long since someone had flirted with me, I told myself I must have been imagining things. Besides, he was so young! So handsome! What on earth was I thinking?
He was the first one up at the podium to speak. ‘I was just talking to this very lovely women in the bar,’ he said, ‘and when I said I didn’t know what to talk about today, she advised me to tell funny stories and talk about celebrities I know.’ I sank my head into my hands, my cheeks burning with embarrassment. It was true, I had said that, only half-joking, but all I could think was: very lovely woman. He said I was a very lovely woman.
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Source: Daily Mail