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I feel like a character in someone else’s coming-of-age story

….the kind about a young man discovering himself, his faith, his relationship to his environment and where he fits in. The sort of story where his thinking is turned upside down when he meets a certain woman (usually older or bohemian or both). I feel like that woman.

This woman surfaces in several instances of pop culture. She’s a bit of Mrs.Robinson (The Graduate) with a touch of Joan Harris (Mad Men). She’s also Penelope or a somewhat older Aphrodite. She’s independent, wiser, more mature. She challenges his notions. She intrigues him and she leaves him cold too. She understands him better than most people in his life do. And then she doesn’t seem to care at all. He gives her his secrets and she sets them aside, carefully but disinterestedly like she’s seen so many like them before. Because I have.

Is she a friend? A lover? A mentor? A mistake? A life challenge? She’s a bit of everything and when she leaves, she’s that woman.

In the recent years, I’ve been around a lot of younger men, dated a few. There is a pattern. As I get older, I find I’m getting to be more of me – tougher, more independent, more assertive and (it is hoped) wiser. It is that, precisely that which draws a certain kind of young man.

I don’t know if I like it. The attention is flattering with its sweet awe, its charming regard. But it is so much like taming a wild horse without making it dependent on you. I don’t want to be a babysitter any more. My mother hen days are over and behind me (for good, I hope). No man has been worth thus far and I’ve come to believe no man ever will be. After having been maternal for the most part of my life and visualizing a future of playing mommy I find I’m having to, even wanting to let that go. Curious feeling this, consciously letting go of something that once defined you. I figure I’ve to learn to care differently. Then I realize I’m already doing it and it feels like I just shed a hundred years of burden. It was there all along. I really, truly don’t give a damn. I can care because I feel like being generous and not because I just helplessly do.

I want to lead, I want to initiate and I want to drive forward. But I no longer want to carry, to nurture or to take responsibility for someone else. The romance is kicks and that’s all it is; not a season pass to timed commitment. The men are lovely too. I don’t feel like fighting much now. Their opinions really count for so little and matter even less in the grand scheme of things. I will and am living my life of my own sweet will, regardless of them.

How does this work in a relationship? Just like it does for every man, I suppose. I let go of my imposed femininity with much difficulty. It’s a coming of age for me too then.

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