Love in the Present Tense

I saw an old photo of you. You looked heartbreakingly young and silly. The woman you are with, who ended up as your wife, looked very attractive and so much more stylish and mature than you were.

If I had met you at that age, I would have dismissed you as too goofy and immature. I don’t think I would have fallen for you. It is true that as a young man you were very good-looking, with a full head of blond hair and a brighter version of those piercing blue eyes that I can drown into. I still love you better with your sun spots and wrinkles; they speak of your journey, how you loved, and lost, and loved again. How you were reformed as a husband and father, and how in some ways you never managed to grow up from the goofy young man you were in that photo, while in others you became too weary and old.

I love you despite all your faults, and maybe because of them. I love you even knowing that I never want to trade places with the woman who shares your life, a woman who I feel has given up too much of herself and her independence to keep you going. I love you because your eyes sometimes light up for me and tell me things that I like to hear, perhaps things that you are not capable of saying, or things that I have only imagined. I love you even though you said to me that you wish you met me when I was younger, slimmer, and without grey hair. This was your comment on a photo of me 20 years ago, before I met the man who was to father my only child and then move on to become my ex husband. I did not fully understand then why the comment hurt me. I just told you that the girl in the photo does not exist anymore.

I always envied couples who have preserved their love, or partnership over many years. Those who have grown older together from being a young couple or school sweethearts. It saddens me even now that I will never have this experience. But I would settle for someone who loved me better as a mature woman, than he would have the ignorant girl. I would settle for someone who would prefer me as a mother, as someone who had lost and suffered and bounced back again. I would perhaps even willingly fall for someone who would love me with my wrinkles and white hair, the way I love you. It would have been nice if I had this experience for once, and met someone who loved the real me better than the old image. Because I am a better person now than I was 20 years ago.

The chances of this happening are very slim, and it is highly unlikely that I would meet a man who would bother to look a little bit beyond the surface. This makes me sometimes sad, and sometimes a bit resentful and jealous of a person like you who can enjoy the quiet devotion of a long-time partner and the crazy infatuation of a younger woman who openly tells you she prefers the current balder, grayer and older version to the younger image. You are so lucky to have love in all possible tenses, while it is a struggle for me to find it even in the present tense.

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