never married, over forty, a little bitter


When my grandparents retired, they moved en masse to Florida, taking the car, the dog, and their entire circle of friends to the same anonymous strip mall town outside Pompano Beach. They watched each other’s grandchildren grow and compared notes over neatly divided egg salad sandwiches. They went to each other’s funerals and witnessed their wills. When my maternal grandmother, widowed in her fifties, needed to buy a new car or fix a leaky faucet, it was my paternal grandfather who stepped into the role. “But how?” my children asked recently. “Why was he there?” Because he just was. Because they all lived in the same building and checked on each other every day. My generation… isn’t going to Pompano. We are not going to wrinkle; we are not going to dine at the early bird buffet; and we are certainly never going to stop having sex. But what, then, do we do?

In 2010, there were 21.8 million women in the United States over the age of sixty-five. Fifty-eight percent of them lived alone.

— Debora L. Spar, Wonder Women, p. 224


We will settle, more or less comfortably, into the choices we made or had thrust upon us– this mate, these children, this job and home and community– and watch our other choices melt irretrievably into fables. The man I might have married but didn’t. The children I lost or didn’t have. The opportunities I let slip away. If feminism was largely about giving women choices, then age is in some ways the cruelest slap, slyly removing possibilities as time passes by.— Debora L. Spar, Wonder Women, p. 206

Whereas man grows old gradually, woman is suddenly deprived of her femininity; she is still relatively young when she loses the erotic attractiveness and the fertility which, in the view of society and in her own, provide the justification of her existence and her opportunity for happiness.— Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex

The woman in our collective imagination is a producer and tender of children, armed with the assets– breasts, hips, eggs– that make her not only capable of this task but also attractive to the men who must participate in at least the first stages of it. Once this function ceases to exist, women’s lives, in a harsh Darwinian sense, are over.— Debora L. Spar, Wonder Women, p. 205

A male co-worker of mine told me the other day, while conversing about the lack of cultural options in our area, that he’s so wiped out from the job that he mostly stays in on weekends recuperating anyway. I can see myself heading in the same direction.

I fear I have entered into that stage of life wherein I spend my remaining energy simply making enough money to keep shelter over my head in old age. The gentleman above is lucky enough to be married; I don’t know where I’d find the time or energy to meet someone, as I’m nodding off by 10 p.m. and completely wiped out by 11. And, of course, the odds are not in my favor. One glance at the online dating sites confirms that is no longer the right avenue for me.

I’m middle-aged now, and I feel it. I didn’t feel I was “in my thirties” until a few years into that decade of life, and the same has happened with my forties. I feel the need for gentler workouts– swimming, yoga, etc.– and clothes shopping is an arduous affair. Some of the cute, animal-print clothes I was wearing just a few years ago have taken on a new meaning now, and I can’t bring myself to wear them or many of the other items in my wardrobe.

I like the people I am working with but haven’t yet figured out how I will build a social life here. This isn’t quite where I wanted to be at this age– starting all over again.

I know women– my mother is one– who remarried in their fifties. It’s still possible for me. A man at this age might be more likely to appreciate a woman with a good job and a healthy savings account. Perhaps it is not all over yet.

I would like to wrap up this post with something pithy, but unfortunately I can’t think of a thing.