Still Single? Throw Yourself A Wedding!

Group Karaoke

Single? Married? Divorced? Who cares? Let’s party!

When I took the stage at Boardwalk 11 Karaoke Bar at my 50th birthday party last February, I was triumphant. Victorious. I felt proud of who I was, and what I had accomplished – getting to 50 as an independent, self-reliant woman.

That wasn’t exactly the picture a few months before though. In the run-up to my birthday, I was the perfect storm of despair: I was going through a break-up, my career was stagnating, my window of fertility had officially closed, I was still not married, and I was turning 50 – a number that probably would’ve been a lot less daunting and depressing if I had a husband and kids.

From November to January, I was totally numb. Nothing felt good, nothing tasted good, music didn’t sound good, not even the cutest guy looked good. It appeared that after multiple times at bat, and many attempts at love, I had officially struck out. On top of it, I was about to leave my 40s and enter midlife, a milestone that was ceremoniously marked when I received my first AARP card in the mail.

The holidays and New Year’s were a blur. I remember going to bed just before midnight on New Year’s eve thinking to myself: “Please let me wake up and have it be six months from now so the pain will be gone and my heart will be healed.” The next day I woke up, and the next, and the next day after that. Slowly, life resumed. I hit reset, I recalibrated, and I got reacquainted with my self-worth, which I seemed to have lost along the way.

By mid-January, I made a decision that would be life-changing: I decided to let go and surrender to my singleness. I detached from the outcome, stopped fighting the power, and submitted to being single. As I mentioned in my very first blog post, it was the most liberating and empowering move I could’ve ever made.

I made another decision in mid-January: To celebrate. So what if I wasn’t married? Who cared if I was still single? Did it really matter that my life didn’t exactly go as planned? There were so many other things to be happy about, so much to be grateful for, so many other blessings to count. I thought why have a pity party when I can have a real party? So I threw myself a huge 50th birthday bash and called it the wedding I was never going to have.

When I stepped on to the stage to sing last February, with my friends and family cheering me on, I knew I had made the right choice:  to revel in the thrill of victory instead of dwelling in the agony of defeat.

IMG_4191

Look what I found and I wasn’t even looking.

The minute I stepped off the stage, I spotted Robby Scharf at the bar. I initially met Robby months earlier on Facebook when he contacted me out of concern for a mutual friend. It wasn’t a Facebook hook-up; he really was a good guy with good intentions. I thought he had a nice face, and had heard he was in a band (maybe he could sing karaoke?) So on a whim, I invited him to my party and he showed up! Except for our mutual Facebook friends, Robby and I were practically strangers. But there he was at my birthday, Mr. Right, standing right before my eyes, with a big smile and a warmth I felt the minute I hugged him hello.

I wasn’t looking, I wasn’t expecting it, and I had all but given up, but something magical happened that night at Boardwalk 11 Karaoke Bar. And now here I am, exactly one year later, engaged to be married and singing a much different tune.

Marriage And Midlife: A First For Us Both

IMG_4179

Robby and me at Rite Aid, our new favorite date place.

Getting married for the first time at this age is a little weird. At a time when most people our age are looking at colleges with their kids, Robby and I are looking at wedding venues. While our peers are preparing for empty nests, trying to figure out what to do after their kids leave, we’re trying to figure out what gifts to register for. While most folks in their 50s are dealing with the trials and tribulations of teenagers, we’re just getting our heads around the concept of having in-laws.

Friends like Sharon Hodor Greenthal, who’s my age, writes a blog called Empty House, Full Mind www.emptyhousefullmind.com.  In it, she talks about getting older too – with someone she’s been married to for 26 years.  The good news about growing older with Robby is that we’re already old.

Our lives and priorities may look very different, but we all have one thing in common: we’re all middle aged. And that’s weird too. When you’ve been single for as long as Robby and I have, it’s easy to forget about age. You’re too busy working, and living, and dating, and moving at warp speed, until you stop and look at yourself in the mirror. Then it hits you.

Your hair is a little thinner, your middle is a little thicker; what was tight is a little looser, what was firm is a little softer. Your teenage hormones have lost their rage, and your college six-pack has become a keg. You hit fifty and your body changes right before your eyes. Oh, and your eyes go too. I can’t see shit anymore. But maybe that’s a good thing – at least now I won’t be able to scrutinize my wrinkles as hard as I used to.

There are more aches and pains. You either have high cholesterol or low T. You may play as hard and run as fast, but you pay for it the next morning. You learn to love Aleve, and ice packs become your new best friends.  Your memory isn’t what it used to be either.  I’d go into more detail on this, but I just forgot what I was going to say.

Getting married at this age is sometimes tough too. Like when I’m the dressing room at a bridal salon surrounded by girls half my age. They’re young, perky, and I’m as old as their mother. I look at them and think, you have your whole life ahead of you, and I’ve already lived half of mine. You’re probably going to get pregnant in a few months, and I’m about five minutes away from menopause. These young brides and I may be walking down the same aisle, but our path and pace couldn’t be more different. They found the man of their dreams in their 20s, I found mine at 50. They partnered early, I bonded a little later. They have youthful exuberance, but I have the kind of confidence that can only come with age.  When it comes to finding love though, age really is just a number.

There’s something weird about getting married at midlife – weird, but wonderful. And Robby and I are embracing it, and each other, with the kind of open arms that can still hit the hell out of a tennis ball. Yes, we may be a little creaky and kvetchy, but that’s okay because we’re in this together. We have a long life ahead of us, filled with romance, adventure, and visits to the pharmacy to get our prescription Lipitor filled – and get a scoop of ice cream too while we’re at it.