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Ilene A. Serlin Ph.D.

Reunion: Couples Talk About Second Chances with Their First Loves

Reunion: Couples Talk About Second Chances with Their First Loves

Like most of us, I'm fascinated with fairy tales about couples who missed each other the first time around, but rediscovered each other later in life.

As Baby Boomers face the last stretch of our lives, many of us who have spent years moving from place to other upgrades of educational or professional opportunities or better weather suddenly crave familiarity. Someone who laughs at the same jokes, understands the same quirks, still thinks you are young and beautiful.

A number DO rekindle old relationships-sometimes for the romance, sometimes to start remembering who we were in the past, and sometimes to see if we can go home again.

Some people have the courage to make a new life, some are fleeing. Some grow long sweet roots, while others are stuck.

In each of these cases, the journey to find home is often poignant, and filled with psychological insights and understanding. What are some of these?

In the following blog, I invited Teri Rosen, a high school chum of mine, who has become a writer and herself gone through such a journey, to send me her story. Here story is below-and if you have a story to share, she is collecting interviews for her book.

REUNION--For Ken, on our first anniversary

Seeing her after so much time, he confessed
His forty-year-old crush on her.
She recalled the secret name
She'd once invented for him
And the heart with his initials inside
That she might have drawn on her history notebook.

The decades have been mostly fair
To them, but not without some share
Of disenchantment.
He has felt his life unraveling
When he wished it would unfold.
She has yearned for one more chance
At romance
Before she gets too old.

They know the gods
Can be capricious.
They know the odds.
But in a moment
Golden and propitious,
He chooses her;
She chooses him.
I-love-you, he says, is just the beginning.
This feels, she says, like a reunion.
Like waking up.
Like coming home.

Here's a summary of our story. Gutsy moves every step of the way, I think!
October '06: I allow my grown daughter to talk me into attending my 40th high school reunion. ("You could meet the man of your dreams, Mom.") I am delighted to see Ken there; we were pals in high school but lost touch after sophomore year in college. In the decades since then, Ken has made his living as a professional poker player. I've been a writer and college instructor. He lives in California. I live in New York. Each of us has been divorced for eons and romance-free for a long, long time.
November '06: Ken responds to my post-reunion "nice to have seen you" email with a three-page confessional. I am stunned by his openness. I write back.
November '06-January '07: Via hundreds of emails, we reveal-in intimate detail-what we were up to in the 38 years when we weren't in touch. Nothing going on in my life interests me as much as those emails, which fly across the country a dozen times a day. Marathon phone calls soon follow.
February '07: We meet for a romantic weekend in Las Vegas, where he's planning to relocate. On the plane going there, I give myself a stern lecture about the risks of impulsive behavior, which I forget the moment I set eyes on him. Back home, I brush off advice from well-meaning friends, who are treating me like an out-of-control teenager.
March '07: Ken comes to New York to meet my daughter, friends, and colleagues. I announce publicly that I will soon be leaving for Las Vegas to take up housekeeping with Ken. For good. No one who has seen us together is even mildly surprised.
May '07: Packing little more than a toothbrush, I move to Las Vegas. Ken and I buy a house together and begin to live the life we've always imagined.
October '07: First anniversary of our class reunion. I write a poem for Ken, in which I describe the state of our emotional lives when we met the year before:
"He has felt his life unraveling
When he wished it would unfold.
She has yearned for one more chance
At romance
Before she gets too old."

Today: We are so happy to have moved past the yearning I expressed in that poem, happy that we didn't let geography, or fear, or cynicism, or anything else get in our way. It means the world to us that it's not too late, that we still have a chance to forge a history together.