Love Like Wine

February is almost half gone and I have not yet made good on my promise to write about the ubiquitous and rather hackneyed topic of "love" this month. That was the challenge, you see - how do I write something about love that will make you want to read? Is it even possible to offer a new perspective on this age-old theme? Then, I realized that it doesn't have to be new. There are so many cycles and stages of love that I can probably draw inspiration from things all around me, or more specifically, things I have read recently. 

The February issue of Real Simple Magazine featured a supremely uplifting story titled "Four love stories for the ages," which highlighted four couples who found love later in life.  Some of them had been married and had lived through divorce or the death of their spouse. Others had just not found the person they wanted to settle down with. And they all had this in common - they found each other in the most unlikely circumstances, and many of them actually wondered, "Should I be doing this at my age?" But they persevered - because in love you have to - and ended up together. We all agree that one can fall in love at any age, but how often are these stories really told? And how often do people actually believe that love can be waiting for you at any age? In our twenties and thirties, and let's please not deny this, we are driven by the desire of finding a partner, someone who loves us, someone whom we love, someone to share our lives with. Much of this is dictated by the underpinning "biological clock" and "procreation" reasoning. But we all operate with the realization that we will find our epic love now, in our youth. No one thinks about the development of love, how it matures, or whether it matures at all. No one factors in sickness, death, divorce, or simply falling out of love. And evidently, heartbreak comes to us as it must in one form or another, and we find out that love, actually, is not as everlasting as we thought it was. 

I know you are thinking, this is supposed to be a post about love, why is she talking about depressing things? I am getting to the good part - just stay with me, OK? So then, if we know that our love stories are fragile and have the potential to get fractured by choice or by design, then aren't the stories of people finding love in their sixties and seventies wonderful and encouraging? Isn't it such a joyful thing that even after six decades or more of being hardened by life and its realities, we are able to retain a degree of vulnerability? We are able to open ourselves up to the heady excitement of new love when we have (statistically speaking) lived the majority of our years already - this is something to celebrate. I believe being in love gets better with age - and I have to use the obvious simile, forgive me - like wine. As we become more rooted in our personalities, in both our strengths and weaknesses, we also become veterans of love as we age. Our capacity to love and be loved improves as we grow older, regardless of whether we have loved the same person for most of our lives with the good fortune of continuing to love them in our later years, or we allow ourselves to fall in love with someone new later in life. We often hear about love stories that are rooted in youth, but develop to old age, but I wish stories of persevering in a new love at an old age were more common. Finding love in any age bracket should be the norm, not the exception. There shouldn't be a possibility of cultural or familial criticism accompanying it. There shouldn't be the nagging presence of a question, "Should I be doing this at my age?" The giving and receiving of love must be celebrated regardless of age (and any other artificial barriers). After all, it is one of the few beautiful things that the human spirit relies on for support and nourishment while there is far more in this world that can ravage it.

Photo by Rebecca McCue