I have been in love twice, maybe three times, it’s hard to know. The first lasted from 17-19 and ended 2 months after we decided to marry. I thought it would fix the relationship, but it did not. The second was almost 10 years. We just sort of came together. I had arrived in a northern New Mexico commune and ended up staying with a man who had not seen a woman all winter. I was a sight for sore eyes on his side. He was a convenience and a place to stay on mine. As time went on, I became pregnant and I think I may have fallen in love with him. Was that love or habit? I’m not sure. I had a second child. When one of our friends’ said, “when are you two going to get married?” and he said “When I find the right woman”, everyone laughed….except me. That could have been a turning point for me and it could have been an unexpected truth that escaped from him. I don’t know. I do know that our relationship not only melted away, but actually crashed and burned – in large part because of me. On to the next. This one was also not a conscious choice. We first got together after drinking ourselves into bed. I don’t have casual sex successfully. Instead, I assume that we must now be in a relationship and proceeded to act that out for about 5 years. We were never a good fit, but I did have another baby. We were living in a house that was slated for destruction and needed to move while I was still pregnant. We could not agree on any of the rentals that we looked at. I finally decided that I needed a home for my two children and the baby who was soon to arrive, so I found a house for us and left the relationship behind. Was this love? Again, I am not sure. I had fond feelings for him and I experienced the tingling sensation when he was near me. I am actually not sure that I have ever experienced a truly loving relationship – the kind you choose because of similarities of thought and action and agree on a future life plan. The kind that is based on compromise and thinking of each other’s happiness. I have always wanted to grow old with someone that knew me well and I knew him and we could be with each other without talking and enjoyed holding hands while walking and traveling together, but still having freedom away from each other. I have not achieved this. I am sometimes guilty – thinking that I have failed at life. Isn’t it a requirement of a “good person”, to have a loving relationship? Hmmm, well, now my kids are raised, I am retired, I have grandkids that are older now. I am as free as I have ever been. I sometimes think, well now is the time to get a partner, as if I could go down to the local store and order one up. I don’t seem to meet anyone that I am attracted to or anyone that is attracted to me. I’m not sure why that is. I once read that people are attracted to other people who are open and want a relationship. I’m not sure that I do. It has occurred to me that I may have a defective “picker”. I spend most of my “loving someone” time, learning to love myself – a relatively new idea. I enjoy the freedom of not having anyone to answer to or compromise with. I’m not sure I am able to compromise at this late date. My friend says, “I don’t want to be a nurse or a purse” and I agree with that. I’ve spent my life caring for others. It may be me that needs the nurse, though. I imagine at least one of my kids will care for me, if needed. Nothing is a given, partners die. I know how to be alone. I won’t have to go through that kind of grief or relearning that comes from a life time partner dying before me. I don’t know the answer to any of this, but I do know that for right now, I am pretty happy with my life, so that will have to be enough, until it isn’t.