The couple came over to the farm yesterday afternoon to get some books signed. A friend called me and asked if they could meet me, they had read my books and wanted to give them as gifts for Christmas. I agreed. They both appeared to be somewhere in their 60's. He had gone through heart surgery, she was living downstate. Both had ended 35 year marriages, as I had.
They seemed very much at ease together, full of plans for travel. Once they met, he decided to leave his 30 plus career with a local financial institution and they would travel, spend time together. He was thinking of selling his house in the country. I had no doubt they would be together. She was learning to love the country, he was learning to love the comforts of suburban life. I asked them how they met, and they said they met on Match.com, the online dating site and the favorite dating service of the farmers and rural people I know.
Going on Match.com was difficult, they said. They both were conservative, traditional middle-class people. He is a leader in his community, a volunteer firefighter, a warm and open man who exudes honest and community. The process involved a lot of rejection, you had to be strong, they said, and believe in yourself. Then they found each other, met for brunch near Saratoga and she said she was so relieved that he had bothered to put a jacket on and dress up. A lot of them had shown up in T-shirts, she said. I liked these two very much. They were very different from me, they adhered closely to the rules – corporate jobs, lots of savings, good pensions, IRA's. I have not played by those rules. But they both decided they were entitled to love and wanted it in their lives.
Their idea of a meaningful life is very different from mine, yet in many ways very similiar. They both refused to accept the low expectations of other people, the diminishment of opportunities and dignity that marketers and corporate economists bring to aging in America. They understood the importance of love. He says everyone he knows says the same thing to him that people say to me: "you look so happy." I felt a strong kinship with these people, and I think they with me. She said that in her late 50's, she asked herself if she might be entitled to love, and she decided that she was. They both found it on Match.com, a course that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. Technology can connect people as well as disconnect and divide them.
A meaningful life is not just my idea of the way I want to live. It comes to people who can change, take risks, be strong and can open their hearts up at any point of life, and follow their dreams. They looked so happy.