I was 45 and he was 29.
We met in a French Medieval village. And after 4 days of debate, I decided to go out with him. I couldn’t resist him. He was the most extraordinary partner I have ever had. He was a painter and a sculptor. He loved roman architecture and he was building his own house with a patio and a fountain in the middle, with columns. He loved nature. He taught me the names and the properties of trees, and plants, and flowers. He was an outstanding musician. He had created his own style of music that was flamingo music and Irish music put together. And when he played that music, it had delicious and indecent effects on me. Everything about him was exceptional.
I couldn’t believe that a man of his age, and beauty, and talent could be free, and even more, be interested in a woman of my age.
As time went by, he was more and more exceptional. I couldn’t understand really what was happening. We traveled a lot, we went to a lot of festivals where he performed with his group called “Kill The Dog.” We used to go up and climb in these old churches- he used to have this key ring with old keys that would get into any church. And we’d sneak inside to look at the paintings and I always wanted to make love in there. So he started calling me “puerquito” which means little pig in Spanish, because he said I was deflowering all the holy places of France. But he never said no, so I called him “puerquito” too.
There was one thing that was very peculiar about him… when he looked at children, his eyes would just beam and glow. And one day it suddenly dawned on me and I said, “Jean Michel, do you want to have children?” And he said, “Yes, of course! I want to plant them into the sun!” He just beamed. And in that moment, I just said oh my god. My heart just stopped.
I knew that it was the end at that moment.
You see, I had two children of my own and they were already grown up. I loved my freedom and I loved my life, and for nothing in the world was I going to deprive that human being from living the experience of having children. I went home and I cried all night long and the next day, I left him. But it wasn’t over. For 3 and a half years, we would struggle to go our separate ways. We would struggle to talk sense into ourselves. And at times, he was ready to give up his dream and I was ready to give him kids. But we both knew that it just wasn’t possible – we could not do this, we shouldn’t do this. We shouldn’t sacrifice our lives in such a way.
So, I began bringing girlfriends to our outings in hopes that he would look at them, that he would never look at them – I really didn’t know what to do.
But we couldn’t stay away from one another. We’d cry and just didn’t know what to do. Our friends didn’t understand us, our families even less. And time was ticking. I was almost 50.
And then one day, I was sitting in a cafe terrace in Toulouse, drinking, and suddenly, SHE walked by. It was magical and unreasonable. It was powerful. I could feel her essence. She had red hair. She was wearing a velour hat, it was a Victorian hat, a little bit crushed soft. She was the most beautiful thing walking on two pair of legs. I walked up to her and started a conversation with her. She was an author for children’s books. And for four weeks I entertained a unique relationship with her until the day that I invited her to come and meet my friend, Jean Michel.
When they crossed and their eyes met, and I saw his smile, I knew that it was good. It was good. I had arranged for a girlfriend to call me and tell me there was an emergency so that I could leave. He knew. And I hugged him, and he hugged me. He wouldn’t let me go. He said to me, “Don’t leave me.” But I said:
“Just be free. Make your dreams come true. Be free. Even without me, just be free.”
So, I turned around to never return. I walked away. They called me the next day and dozens of times. I changed my phone number. I moved away, and I didn’t see him for 4 years. Until one day, I picked up the phone and called him and told him I was coming. He was showing an exhibit in a nearby village, and as I walked into the gallery, I saw that 4 years had gone by. And then this beautiful little red head came running out with curly hair.
She ran towards me as if she had known me all her life and she said to me in French, ‘C’est toi la fee?’ which means, “Are you the fairy?”
People often ask me, “How could you be so selfless?” I don’t really see selflessness there. Selflessness would have been to have given him children, to find myself raising children that I didn’t really want. That would have been self-sacrifice. Helping him find another partner was the least I could do for someone I love. But perhaps, there was another motivation. I think I had to either prove to him or to myself that there was a grandeur of spirit within me, something bigger. Something bigger that could come of all we shared. That doesn’t mean it was easy. I suffered and cried and felt jealousy like anyone would.
But I found great peace one day, weeping in my car after teaching an English class. I told myself, “I am the woman of his life, born too early, and he is the man of my life, born too late.”
At that moment, I realized that being with him had accomplished one of my greatest wishes: for the first time, I had known true love.
I said to myself, ” You are one lucky person – you have loved and been loved.” This gratitude suddenly filled me and I thought:
“Now, I have lived the peak of all human experiences and I thought to myself, “I can die now.”
Special thanks to The Moth and Aryana Rose for sharing this story.