Friday, July 27, 2018

Being the December to a May.

While we're celebrating our anniversary, here is a post from three years ago on what it is to be the older party in a relationship.

"No, no, I still work from home, when I'm able to. He's just started school. Graduate school," I hasten to add. I haven't talked to my grandfather in awhile, so what would be light smalltalk is now invested with deeper meaning. When we ask each other how we are, what we've been up to, and where we're living now, we care about the answers.

He'd probably care to hear more about my significant other, too, but I'm not quite sure how it'd go when I got to the bit about my S.O. and I being nearly a decade apart.

Age gap romances aren't anything new or strange, I know that much on a logical level. It still felt like a pretty huge impediment to us dating in the beginning, though. Regardless of our relative senses of maturity, emotional development, or life experience, that's a chunk of time.
An entire fifth-grader-sized chunk of time.

I kind of hate the term May-December romance, mostly because it conjures up uncomfortable, quasi-exploitative images of an older man with a much younger woman. I care about my S.O. a lot, so the thought of people wondering what we're each "getting out of" dating each other is really, really unpleasant. The idea that people will judge our relationship differently because it's a younger man with an older woman is even worse. (This is probably a Thing for non-het or nonbinary couples, too, but it's also likely to be differently nuanced -- I've only ever dated ladies who were around my age, though, so I don't really have much insight.)

Granted, I'm probably not old enough to qualify as a December, but, if you're only as old as you feel, I should probably have checked into my local coroner's office several years ago.

Ignoring the numbers, it's super easy to see why he and I are together. We don't look hugely different in age; our hobbies align enough to be interesting to each other while still being separate enough to give us plenty to talk about; we're both curious enough to find all kinds of stories, art, music, and other things to share with each other; despite the gap, our upbringings were still similar enough to elicit empathy in each other; and our pet peeves, amount of patience, and levels of understanding mesh well.

We don't have an enormous financial discrepancy, we have nothing to gain from being together outside of just having a really good relationship, and there's not a whole lot we wouldn't do for each other.

Reality isn't that simple. The fact is, I'm still nine years older than he is. I'm still chronically ill with a painful, debilitating illness that places a lot limits on what I can do. I don't want children, and neither does he, but he's young enough that there's still plenty of time for him to change his mind. And, unfair as it might be, most people still just don't look all that favorably on relationships like ours. (These people are jerks, but I digress.)

I've laughed off my share of other people's jokes about it, too. "Three more years, and you'll qualify as a cougar!" "You can't find a good man, so you're gonna raise one!"
An older man with a younger woman is seen as distinguished and successful, someone to be envied... Which totally makes sense when you're looking at a culture that views attractive, nubile young women as Things One Should Aspire to Obtaining, akin to a gold watch or sports car.
An older woman with a younger man is seen as lonely and sex-hungry, someone to be pitied... Which totally makes sense when you're looking at a culture that views older, unmarried women as somehow defective.

My S.O.'s never given me any reason to think of our ages as a problem, he's said and done plenty to reassure me otherwise. I'm always the one secretly wondering if time, illness, or something else outside of our control is going to screw things up. Always. And, always, my reasoning ends up coming back to one question -- even if I knew for a fact that we were going to split up somewhere down the line, would I break things off now?

Nah. Not for anything in the world. Even if it means we're going to get looked at funny in another ten years.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Get (side)real.

It's going to be my birthday soonish. (And I'm going to be older than the rocks ground down to make dirt. Older than dirt's dad.) This, coupled with an incredibly sleepless night the other night sent me back down the rabbithole of sidereal astrology, because I like punishing my brain by force-feeding it information when it refuses to sleep.

I say "back" down because, like a lot of people, I'm mostly familiar with western (read: tropical) astrology. A few years ago, there was a minor kerfluffle about everyone's astrological signs changing because, as it turns out, constellations don't actually stay in the same place very well. So, if you were born in December, Congratulations! You're an Ophiuchus now, and no, don't ask me what that means. I read about sidereal astrology, realized it'd involve more chart-making, and decided I wanted to nap instead.

Only, the thing is, nobody's signs were actually changing. The internet just becomes very silly when it discovers new (to it) information. Tropical astrology, which is mostly a thing in the western world, arose in the Hellenistic period and is based around the vernal equinox. Sidereal astrology, which is more of a thing in India, is based around the actual positions of the stars. Because things in space are notoriously terrible at staying in place, the two systems haven't exactly kept pace with each other over the past couple millennia or so. Go figure.

I don't know very much about astrology, compared to a lot of other people. Though I take the positions of the planets and stars into account when I'm doing spellwork, my actual birth signs don't matter that much to me. I'm interested in them and all, but, on a scale between zero and Buzzfeed Personality Test, it's like a seven most of the time.

Really, most of my interest lies in the fact that astrologers have somehow predicted that I will have brain problems and a stomachache basically always. That is more useful to me than knowing I like neatness and order and should wear a lot of earth tones. But I digress.

All of this is to say that I started reading about sidereal astrology again, which means I made my S.O. learn about it, too. He was not pleased by what he saw as an undesirable "shift" from Aries to Pisces, but I'm pretty stoked.

See, Virgos? They don't really have a great reputation. Pretty much every guide to Virgoan personalities points out that we're nitpicky, over-analytical, judgmental, and, perhaps worst of all, boring... but also level-headed and stable, so we've got that going for us. I've never really felt "at home" in the Virgo idea -- sure, there are some aspects that suit me (I like order, but who doesn't? Like, show me the person who actually prefers to live in chaos and filth) but most of them... Not so much. Even the rest of my chart doesn't really explain away why my sun sign felt like an itchy hand-me-down shirt, and I have less than no interest in most of the things that are supposed to excite Virgo sensibilities.

The sidereal concept of the Leo, though? Much better. Warts and all, even. The Virgo traits I felt within myself are still there, but tempered by Leo traits that match the parts of me that didn't fit the Virgo-sun-Gemini-moon-Gemini-ascendant-plus-assorted-planets I'd been taught about. I like it. It's got a more comfortable energy. A kind of leonine BDE, if you will.

I'd like to learn more (even if it involves more charts). I don't think it'll impact my life any more than tropical astrology did, but I can't help but be interested in where it leads.