My life as a single retiree was routine, splitting my time between homes in Manhattan and New England. The bonus was grown children and grandchildren. But, as I aged, I’d developed a been-there, done-that attitude. Exciting surprises seemed over until a “Hey Judith, remember me?” message popped up.
“Oh my, a blast from 1984 and my glorious Madrid past…call to catch-up,” I wrote back. And he did call and told me my old business card had surfaced as he emptied his desk for retirement. It revived fond memories of our encounters. He politely omitted sexual. Mine had faded. He’d settled in The Villages, Florida’s booming 55+ retirement community. He reported that he was semi-single, which he explained meant his divorce was pending and that he had a girlfriend, a younger one who he planned to meet in Europe over the summer. I’d been divorced for ages and sworn off unavailable men, which he was. But could his heart, like mine, still be unsettled?
Could his heart, like mine, still be unsettled?
Strange, but during my COVID clean-out, I’d found his old card as well. Tracing its embossed lettering, I saw myself newly divorced, in my early 40s and alone in Madrid temporarily to create a travel-shopping brochure for a client. I’d contacted his American company for information. He’d later confess that my mellow voice and New England accent convinced him to hand-deliver the material.
When I answered his door knock, I saw a handsome man in his early ’30s with golden skin, jet-black hair and an excess of confidence in a tailored beige suit. Later, we went for dinner, followed by a bewildering, exhilarating overnight of passion with a stranger my body seemed to have known for an eternity. Our sporadic trysts lasted several months until I moved to New York City.
Trysting Again on a Different Continent
In 1989, our paths crossed in an Australian restaurant. A new wife was at his side. Five years later he was in Manhattan for a business trip and a one-night rendezvous. Next morning, he was gone. We didn’t follow-up.
After he got back in touch in early 2021, we had some playful phone conversations and then I booked a weekend at a Villages hotel. Aging seems to have left many friends hopeless about rediscovering romance, scared to polish rusty emotions. Not me. I’d make the most of this fluke reunion.
Either I refuse another drink so I can drive home, he said, or I order another round and stay with you.
Stomach butterflies surprised me as I watched him approach the hotel’s veranda, a man almost 70 now with silver hair like mine. We’d both aged well. Camaraderie was instantaneous during dinner, enough for him to say at last call, “Either I refuse so I can drive home, or I order another round and stay with you.” Although I am a bold, seasoned woman, I paused, nervous about his proposal, until I said, “order.”
That night, we resumed our odd, blissful affair. “Buy something in The Villages. Escape those Northeast winters,” he said the next day. What a crazy and improbable idea, I replied. But when I got back home, I regretted not exploring the retirement community, so I rented accommodations for April.
Reaching for Bliss
During that month, we spent remarkable nights together, but in the daytime he kept his distance. I knew not to count on him, so I went solo to discover The Bubble, the Villages’ nickname. There were fresh flower beds and glorious trees draped in swaying Spanish moss. It felt safe with beautiful homes and countless golf carts scooting about with waving occupants. Couples held hands and singles mingled, both with packed calendars. The “town” squares filled nightly with dancers who lip-synced tunes from their youth. I’d always rejected that vanilla lifestyle. It now fit.
Few women would have accepted our unconventional arrangement.
“You’re a gift from the universe,” I’d whisper as we lay together, and he’d thank me for our lovemaking. Few women would have accepted our unconventional arrangement. But I adored the joy and momentary freedom I felt in a retirement community with limited tomorrows.
When I returned to the Northeast after that month, and he flew to Europe, all communication ceased. The silence forced a confrontation with my personal truths. Should I permit aging to sideline me into ho-hum complacency or become a Florida snowbird? Why not discover a new place where many had a light in their eyes that synced with my own? Why not cavort with others who believed in ageless self-fulfillment? His presence was insignificant.
A year has passed since his fateful reconnection that radically altered my life. I did purchase a Villages’ home to escape mind-boggling sameness and nasty winters. We’re in touch again although it’s best to assume nothing. He says we’ll be friends; I doubt that since we never were. In the meantime, I’m thrilled that a hot and savvy man I met 38 years ago returned to rekindle fond memories as our lives ebb to their natural end. It’s that simple.