By Guest Blogger JamillahNeeairah Nasir

Recently, I was at brunch with The Committee when the topic of love and relationships came up. Usually, I take this moment to use the ladies’ room, check my email, or get another bagel and top off my coffee. I usually don’t have much to contribute to the conversation because I’ve been resistant to the idea of marriage and coupling for a very long time. Although I made attempts to navigate the terrain of marriage earlier in my life, I’ve just found it easier to be a lone wolf now that I’m older, specifically when it comes to relationships.

But that all changed last year when I met and fell in love with a very charismatic, thoughtful, and creative man who has made my life far more interesting and enjoyable since he showed up. My friends were all amused; they knew I didn’t expect or want to love anyone. But the decision to be open to all things that lead to love, growth, and change in this season meant I had to be willing to let my heart fall open, too. And I’m glad I did.

His belief in me has inspired some of my favorite new dreams. Thankfully, he loves me in spite of my need for periods of self-imposed exile, and I love his ability to make me laugh and keep me calm so I don’t catastrophize everything. Although I realized our differences were complementary, I still had to decide if I wanted a future that includes having a companion.

I imagined spending my post-parenting years traveling the world with my friends and little more than a backpack, my tent, and a harmonica. I saw myself hitching rides to towns with strange names or noteworthy attractions. I fancied myself a hippy adventurer–eating jazzed up ramen prepared by a woman who calls herself Lunar Moonbeam-or some other far-out thing, crashing on a stranger’s couch for the weekend so I can attend breathwork classes with Wim Hoff, or becoming part of a world peace meditation commune in Imalone, Wisconsin. I’d spend my days in coffeehouses writing my memoirs and create new hobbies like Naked Pottery, and calendar observances like Sexy Sixties Streaking Sundays. I want to try beachside ariel yoga and learn to play bid whist. I’ll ride public transportation just for kicks, and read Better Homes and Gardens to learn how to make the best use of the limited space in my converted school bus- turned-mobile home. But I didn’t ever imagine falling in love, because that would require me to imagine a world someone else could fit in.

So, it might surprise you to know that the man I fell in love with doesn’t want to live in a converted bus-no matter how spacious it is. He prefers a very nice hotel with a restaurant in the lobby that serves a great breakfast over couch surfing with strangers and eating rame–even if it is jazzed up! While my quirky ideas amuse him, we’re both very clear that I’ll be having some of those adventures without the benefit of his company. And that’s fine. He loves me enough to let me have my crazy dreams and wild, solo adventurers, and I love him enough to recognize that neither of us would have a great time if he did join me!

Sure, finding love later in life sometimes requires you to modify and revisit your plans, but please don’t be afraid to keep your heart open. If you can reimagine what love could look like in every new season of your life, you might discover some new, and even better dreams.

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