This post will probably come across as sexist. Well, I have been thought to be worse–have not been thought to be too many things that are better, though. Carrying on—as I stood in line at the market yesterday, I found myself behind a former crush of mine.
Back story: Shortly after my first tour of graduate student duty and using Hurricane Katrina as an excuse to leave, I moved back to my adopted hometown, at first full of hope and then quickly overwhelmed with the reality of moderately medium-sized limitations. One bright glistening moment: I happened to come across a picture of a wonderfully cute young lady; she was a feature profile in the paper. She was (and still is) very active with children in the community, diverting her heretofore maiden energy on the community’s forgotten children. What first caught my attention about her photo: she was juggling. Okay, not fully true, that last statement. What first caught my attention about her photo: she was a looker who was juggling. Well, a few months later, working at the local library, I saw her walk in and sit down in the periodical section. After pacing back and forth for a few minutes and giving myself a pep talk, I approached her and asked if that was her who I had seen profiled in the paper a few months ago. She flashed me the warmest smile, and we proceeded to launch into a vigorous discussion about the nature of education, incorporating Plato at some point. I had to excuse myself for my lunch break, walking away smitten and disappointed that during the course of our conversation I could not summon the nerve to ask her out for coffee. I walked about fifteen feet away from her, sharply turned around, and asked her if she wanted to have coffee. Once again, she flashed that fantastic smile of hers and told me that she would love to but then apologetically informed that her boyfriend would not have cared for the gesture. Note: she did not say that she did not want to have coffee. I saw her in the library a few times after that, and then I left again for grad school, and she got herself married. No strict causal connection, I believe. Two regrets as I reflect back on this situation: One, I wished I had told her, “Honey, if your boyfriend will mind, he does not have to come along with us.” Two, when I met her a few months later and she was throwing me, according to a female coworker, signs of attraction, I wished I had asked her out again. Unfortunately, by that time, I was dating a very poor choice in local romance options, so I let go of that golden opportunity.
Back to the market: Several years had passed since our last meeting before I saw yesterday. She flashed me that smile and told me that she had not seen me in a while. (Minor regret: I wish that I had responded with the following: “Honey, where have you been looking?”) She still looks remarkably the same. From my furtive, and perhaps sinful, glances, her body did not bear the tell-tale signs of motherhood. According to my social network sources, she and hubby still are childless. Now, for all I know, perhaps she and hubby cannot conceive. If that is the case, then I truly feel sorry for them. Or: perhaps neither she nor her husband are in a state that would allow them to start a family. However, I will say that had she had a child or two in tow, tugging on the flab that begins to wrap around a woman’s upper arm simultaneously, it seems, as she gives birth, those old feeling would not have been rekindled, at least not as strongly as they were yesterday. As it was, I wanted to swoop her up in my arms and carry her lithe frame out the market.
I believe that having children usually acts as wall against the re-formation of older feelings of desire. Namely, children cause women to age much more quickly than they do otherwise. However, as more and more women delay getting married and then delay having children once they are married, the natural barrier against the recurrence of old flames fails to materialize. With these natural barriers removed, the flames have much more room in which to grow.