Monday, May 29, 2017

Love Recycled – Can You Move Forward by Going Back?

It’s Friday morning and I’m sitting in the Ophthalmologist’s examining chair as he looms over me shining a light in the right, then the left, eye.  I’ve been seeing him for many years now.  Dr. X is a teeny bit eccentric, to be honest, but I like him, and I get a real kick out of his monologues.  I don’t know how he does it, but he manages to keep up a running stream of chatter during the entire length of the exam -- about his life, his ex-wife, his children and anything that pops into his head.  I interrupt only occasionally to pose a question, but, basically, I just sit back and let him ramble on. 

My husband is always amazed at the things Dr. X tells me.  “He barely says two words to me when I’m in the chair,” he says. 

“That’s because you’re a guy, and the only way you guys share personal things with each other is if somebody puts a gun to your head.”   

I think I must have one of those faces.  People just seem comfortable telling me things, often of a very personal nature, and I’m never shocked nor do I offer advice, unless they ask for it.  
This time I heard some very funny, slightly risqué, stories about Dr. X’s exploits as a Freshman at Yale University.  We are about the same age, he and I, which means that there’s an easy, generational shorthand that exists between us.  He’s been divorced for quite a while and has what can only be described as a checkered dating history.  Casually, I ask him if he’s seeing anyone new, and he says, “No, I’m recycling some of my old ones.”   

I laugh as he continues.   “I’ve been in love twice in my life.  I’m done with all that.  I’ve tried all the usual dating services.  I just don’t have the time or the energy any more to start with someone new.  It’s just too exhausting.  So, I’ve been recycling some old girlfriends.”   
“How’s that working out?” I ask.   
“So far, so good.  I got the idea from my cousin.  She’s been divorced twice, tried all the dating sites and just decided to go back and look up some old boyfriends.  Of course, she made the mistake of starting with her first husband.  Halfway through the date she remembered why she’d divorced him.  Then, she decided to look up some old boyfriends from high school.  I think she’s now working her way through college.” 

On the way home in the car, my dilated pupils barely protected from the daylight behind my Jackie O sunglasses, I laughed to myself at the thought of recycling old love affairs.  But, then, I thought, if I suddenly found myself single, what would I do?  Would I go to an on-line dating service at my age?  Suddenly, the whole recycling thing didn’t seem so silly after all.  In fact, thinking back, Mme Mère had done just that.   

At my age, my Mother had already been a widow for 17 years.  Although she never remarried, she always had men in her life.  When she was in her seventies, she started looking up old boyfriends.  The shared history was a great place to start a relationship or just enjoy an evening out together.   One of those relationships lasted until the gentleman passed away.  In fact, my Mother outlived all of her gentlemen friends. 

She claimed that I had my first boyfriend at the age of two.  I couldn’t swear to it, since I don’t remember, but I do remember the two boyfriends I had when I was 6.  Larry and John were in my first grade class.  They were best friends and did everything together.  They would walk me home from school together and ring my doorbell together on Saturday mornings.  My Mother thought it was cute, my Father did not.  He was already suspicious of boys/men having designs on his daughter.   

Larry married a girl from our class the month after we graduated high school.   I lost track of him.   I ran into John in my twenties while working at JC Penney Department Store.  We were both working our way through college.  There was clearly still a spark between us, and we dated for a while.  Eventually, we went our separate ways and I lost track of him, too.   

Looking back over the landscape of my romantic life, I can honestly say that the Good Lord definitely had my back.  He held that special person in reserve for me until I had learned enough about life and love to know how lucky I was to find him. 

Nevertheless, the idea of the single man or woman my age recycling old girlfriends and boyfriends has a certain appeal, and, in at least one case I know of personally, can have a most wonderful result.   

When my neighbor, Nancy, moved to our little townhouse community with her husband, Charlie, they were a lovely couple.  It was a second marriage for both of them and it was obvious they were happy.  Charlie’s death was a shock to everyone.   

At a high school reunion, Nancy ran into a classmate she had not seen in 30 years.  John, too, was a widower, and over the course of the evening, he confessed to her that he had had a major crush on her since first grade from the moment she took his hand.  “Nancy held my hand as I joined her reading group, because I was really shy,” John remembered. 

Well, one thing led to another, which led to a walk down the aisle for John and Nancy five years ago.  They’re no longer my neighbors, but we still keep in touch.  They have started a new life together in a new house not far away, and every time I think of them, it makes me smile.   

So, for those of us d’un certain âge who are single and looking for love, maybe going back is a good way to move forward.  Or, at least, it may be a good place to start. 


  1. What a wonderful idea to post your take on recycling- certainly it's original. I always left a relationship on good terms. That was important to me, not with drama, blame or anger but the thought of recycling was never my m.o., I too remembered why going separate ways was the best action to take at the time. I also don't think people change, not their true essence.
    Great topic, can't wait to read everyone else's comments.

    1. It's a funny thing, but Mme Mère was always "burning her bridges" in a fit of pique (real or imagined). I learned not to do that by watching the results. Still, as you say, the true essence of someone does not change, although I firmly believe circumstances and life experiences can truly precipitate a "come to Jesus" moment for many.

      And now for something completely different (as Monty Python would say) and totally wonderful.

      I am so excited about the launch of your new novel "Dust Unto Shadow" and I urge all my readers in the Sierra Madre region to attend your "Meet the Author" event on Saturday June 10 at the Sierra Madre Library at 2:00 PM (440 W Sierra Madre Blvd, Sierra Madre, CA 91024). For more information go to:

      If I were not 3,000 miles away I would be there with bells on.

      Have a wonderful event!!!.

      Much love, M-T

  2. Interesting stories. Not sure I would join a dating agency now if I was single. However in my mid 40s I did join one (they were not as acceptable in those days) and met my current and second husband through the agency. We have now been happily married for 15 years. I do keep in touch with one of my old flames and we are off to his 70th birthday party in a couple of weeks time.

    1. What a great story, Josephine, and proof that love can happen at any age and anywhere. Congratulations on your 15 years of married life.

      Sounds like a fun birthday party for your old flame. My husband turned 70 in April. I have been teasing him about being married to an "old man," until he reminds me I'm only five years behind him. Of course, I then remind him that I will never catch up.

      Always enjoy your comments.

      Cheers, M-T

  3. The following comment was sent to me by my dear friend Anna and published with her permission:

    “Very interesting blog. Reminds me of a book club friend who got together again after about 30 years with the love of her life. Her words. They were dating in college. They both went on to a different life, marriage and children. He came across her name on some internet site and called her. She was by that time divorced and he was heading for one. It all ended well. I go to my reunion in Hungary fairly often and cannot imagine a relationship with any of them.

    Xoxo. Anna”

    1. Love the story of your book club friend, Anna. It's amazing how life can intervene, pull us apart and then bring us back together again, often at exactly the right moment.

      See you and Novis when you return from your travels.

      xoxo, M-T

  4. I have a good friend who lost her husband at a young age and called her high school first love after a period of being a widow. They have been married for about 10 years now.

    In general, it is not a good idea to reconnect with someone you broke up with ... because the reason was likely a good one. But when you go back to people from high school, the difference is both of you are now mature and probably different people then you were at such a young age. High school is fairly far back.

    It's sounds like your doctor isn't looking for much more than companionship and as long as he dates women who want the same, there's nothing wrong with that. If a person is looking for marriage, they shouldn't spend their time with him, but look for someone who had the same desire.

    1. What a touching story of your friend getting back w/her first love, Debra. High school is fairly far back, as you say, farther back for some of us than others (sigh).

      My doctor is clearly NOT looking for anything more than companionship, although sometimes life can surprise us even when we are certain that we've "been there; done that."

      As always, thanks for stopping by.

      Cheers, M-T

  5. Dearest Marie-Thérèse,
    Well, it is not so much about the recycling itself but the comfort of familiarity!
    Our foster-daughter's Mom in Indonesia who became a sudden widow in 2012, did marry the neighbor of her daughter-in-law's Parents. They had met at her son's wedding and since than both became widowed. It would indeed be very scary to start over without knowing anything about a possible date; at our age that is!
    Sending you hugs,


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