My friend, Chelsea, has been divorced for a number of years. She and Rob are the most sensible divorced couple I have ever met. The division of their assets was amicable, they share custody of their two beautiful girls in a way that has allowed them all to thrive, and they have a family dinner once a week where they actually discuss things.
Their lack of animosity is genuine. I have known Chelsea for over twenty years. We have a language of our own and the closeness of sisters. She grasps things about people without judging them. She sees the misery in life but still loves the world; her head is full of images of people dancing in sunlight.
Chelsea and Rob weren’t ever really in love. They freely admit it. “We converged rather than collided,” Chelsea always says. “There was no spark, no passion. It was hard sitting across the room from him when the kids had gone to bed thinking you are a decent, good man, a nice man but if I spend the rest of my life with you I will turn withered from the inside out. I felt nasty for thinking it but I wanted more.”
Chelsea is an artist, a sculptor. She takes the colours of the earth and turns them into pictures bursting with life; she marks the passages of the years with tones scraped from dusty stones and wet cloths hanging in the wind. Her themes are spiritual. She is tactile and luminous.
Chelsea has a passion for John Coltrane, home-made preserves, double pastrami sandwiches and in a rather clandestine way – younger men. The last passion started as a bit of a running joke, the old cliche of the divorced older woman chasing younger men in a bid to redefine herself. As it turned out however, it was the younger men who were chasing her; her lust for life was highly desirable.
She had a few disastrous transitions before the role of the older woman solidified; namely the 23 year old fireman who asked her out because she reminded him of his mother; and the 26 year old accountant who was double-jointed but had to ask his father’s permission if he wanted to stay out later than midnight. There were also the ill-fated two week liaisons, the one night stands where the parties in question were only interested in another older woman notch on the belt. Disheartening, disquieting times.
Now Chelsea has a steady younger man in her life. She is 45, he is 35. She is not with him to prove that she can be. He is not with her because he gets turned on by the oftentimes desperation of older women. They fit. The feeling is mutual. They are held together by the same dreams. They rejoice in each other and Chelsea delights in the fact that their passion for each other makes their age difference barely noticeable. She no longer has to fend off predictable comments like :” He’s young enough to be your……”, “Is he driving yet…..”, “How much older are you…”
Chelsea stands at the window. A streetlight throws her out of focus. Her spirit leaps, clinging to what remains of the day and she hums, tracking the setting of the sun with her finger on the glass. Later, I know she will paint that scene, the sun hanging like a Christmas bauble loose on its string, red and orange as the skin of a peach; the colours a miracle. And she will be glad she can still find inspiration in scenes lifted from her window, that she can sit in her living room and not feel it is empty; that she did not disallow her hunger for something more.