I have never been very interested in having a relationship with a man who was significantly younger than me. Once I had a boyfriend who was 22 when I met him (I was 25), and I thought that was rather naughty of me — cradle-robbing such an innocent! I laugh now about it because I have a much more balanced perspective about any such situation at my current age of 47.
When I was 18, I moved in with my 27-year-old boyfriend, John. We were in love, and I didn’t really think much about his age. His friends teased him for going out with a baby, but he acted like me and we had a lot of fun together. He had not really developed himself in the sense of having a career or investing in his future. He was still in "playtime" mode, just like most guys in their 20s. It was as if he was more my age than his own age. It worked well for about three years. Then I began to realize he had no ambition, no desire to better himself or morph into the butterfly version of himself. He had the same routine that suited him. It was his comfort zone, which I was rapidly growing out of. I knew there was more to life than the little world that we had enclosed our selves in for three years. I was antsy and curious about what else was out there. I began to see my life with him as played out. My lessons were over. I left him and sustained a badly broken heart, as we did have a deep love for each other. We both knew I would never be happy unless I was able to spread my wings and explore the perimeters of my own comfort zone.
Over the years I had loves who were about my age, rarely younger, often older. When I hit 30, that all changed. I found myself head-over-heels with a man who was eight years younger than me. This love crept up on us unexpectedly. We had been good friends since he was 19. He was one of the art students who painted me as I posed in an art-school classroom. We sometimes hung out with friends after school, and a smoldering crush developed, which neither of us spoke of.
When he was 21, and I was 29 (almost the same aged difference as me and my first love, in reverse), I found myself estranged from my first husband, and pregnant with my oldest daughter. Michael wanted to sketch me pregnant, he offered to paint the ceiling of my living room in exchange, and I agreed to the arrangement. I would go to the penthouse in Manhattan where he lived with his mother to pose. We never touched each other. We were quiet and usually very nervous, not able to speak of our feelings for fear of rejection by the other one. These sessions were sometimes agony, and Michael could not concentrate. We would end early and go our separate ways.
One day after he was painting my ceiling, he asked me if I wanted to go to the planetarium to see the Pink Floyd laser show. He heard it was really cool. I said yes, and we packed up for the day and went on our first date. During the show we sat side by side in the theater, leaning back, millimeters from touching. I wanted to lean into him so badly, but I didn’t dare! He looked as if he was in pain. His hand would accidentally brush the edge of mine, then move away. I could hardly bear the agony of wanting him. It was almost a relief when the show was over, and we could leave.
We decided to go to Central Park for some fresh air and to calm our palpitations. It was a July night, full moon and stars were visible. I showed him my favorite place, a clearing with a huge old tree east of Strawberry Fields. We lay with our backs in on the grass, looking up and talking about stuff. Suddenly he turned to me, took my face between his hands and began kissing me. Our three-year friendship was transformed in that instant, and we allowed in the love that had been growing contained and politely between us. It was let out at last, and we began to make love in the twilight. I was nearly 30, seven months pregnant and a divorcée. He was a student, barely into his 20s, still living with his mother.