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Coupling

The tortoise was right

There are definite advantages to heeding your internal, intuitive love clock -- even if it moves at a glacial pace.

By Karin Conrad
August 9, 2009

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My husband and I have one important thing in common: We’re dawdlers. And I mean that in a good way. In a world of multi-taskers juiced up on BlackBerrys zooming down life’s highway, we’re hanging out in a roadside diner, chatting up the waitress.

True to form, we took our time in love and marriage, wedding for the first time and having our first child in our 40s. A mutual friend introduced us. In fact, she persisted in trying to get us together for a few years -- though he was in Boston and I in Phoenix -- acting on the unwavering conviction that the two least hurried people she’d ever met would be the perfect match. She was right.

When I first met my guy, we fell into an easy rhythm together, wandering around with no particular plan, stopping occasionally to make small talk with strangers or admire the unusual quality of the late afternoon light while my photographer husband-to-be waxed on about f-stops. It was the kind of day that would have made our Type A friends tweet in exasperation (OMG! nothing is happening!), but, for us, it was bliss. I was in love . . . for the first time.

They say there’s nothing like your first love, but I’d say there’s nothing like your first love after a few decades of singlehood. Sure, I’d dated, but when my friends would eagerly grill me about my latest beau, I’d pause thoughtfully and say, “I guess I love him, but I’m not in love.” I felt that being in love requires the right guy, of course, but also a certain readiness that only comes with time, patience, and a lot of birthdays spent buying yourself flowers.

To many, it seemed I had veered off the expected life track as I approached 40 still single. But, to me, the timing seemed right. I’d even told my friends back in junior high I would marry only after I had had a sufficient number of adventures. Turns out, I did have adventures: globe-trotting, graduate school, multiple moves to multiple cities. Over the years,

I got the chance to see just how far I could go on my own.

Admittedly, it’s not easy going solo in a couple-centric culture, especially for someone like me who’s about as cool and solitary as a puppy and someday wanted the closeness of marriage. I gamely attended my share of weddings and marveled that even the most, um, idiosyncratic people managed to find someone with idiosyncrasies to match. I started to wonder if I hadn’t meandered past my window of opportunity.

But I didn’t jump into anything. I bided my time (and, yes, hoped my biological clock was in synch). I ended up marrying my guy at 40 (he was 44) a couple of years after we met. The following year, our daughter was born.

Now, coming up on our eighth wedding anniversary, I’m writing my paean to slow love. I’ve heard there’s a slow-life movement, which celebrates putting the brakes on our collective rush to get wherever it is we’re going and savor the fullness of the moment, whether we’re chopping carrots, brushing our child’s hair, or just dawdling. I’d like to speak to the virtues of slow love, of following your internal, intuitive love clock even if it moves at a glacial pace, and relishing the sweetness of the real thing once you’ve got it.

I’m not saying the two of us are floating through our days in a soft-focus haze of perfection. My beloved bribes our daughter with fast-food junkets, falls asleep watching CSI rerun marathons, and can’t let go of the ’80s (still cranking Duran Duran? Puhleez). But, having taken so long to find love, we’re not inclined to take it for granted. I still wake up and remember with fresh gratitude that I’m sharing my home with people I love so well I can barely fathom it. Sometimes, in the middle of putting away groceries, we’ll stop and remark, “Hey. Look at us. We’re married and parents,” as if we just realized we could fly.

Plus, there’s something cool about having new love and babies right about when it hits you that your time is finite. We have an extra incentive to follow our smell-the-roses impulse and know we’re not wasting time when we hang out on the porch eating Popsicles, laughing, and counting the cars that pass. One thing’s for sure: Love needs time. Here in the slow lane, we’re taking the scenic route and loving every minute.

Karin Conrad is a teacher and freelance writer. She lives in Waltham. Send comments to coupling@globe.com.

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  • August 9, 2009 cover
  • august 9 globe magazine cover
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