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I know it’s probably non-eco-friendly of me to say this, but I do so love a good road trip.  There are some areas of America that you can only really appreciate by driving through them.  The Smokey Mountains, for instance.  It’s absolutely thrilling, breathtaking, to drive through the mountains of East Tennessee, into North Carolina.  If you’ve not done this, you should.  Especially in spring or summer, when the mountains boast about a thousand different shades of green.  Just beautiful.

So, I took this trip because I needed a vacation.  My boss practically forced me to go– I was having second doubts about going but he persuaded me to get out of town.  And actually, driving gives me time to think, time to be completely alone with my thoughts.  Time to reason things out & get perspective.  Except this time, well this time it didn’t seem to work.
Not that I thought I would go on this trip and come back ok, over the recent break up, and with all my problems in life solved.  But I did think I would come to some kind of conclusions about how I feel about things, and at least have a plan.  Instead of feeling relieved and less burdened, I feel things even more keenly than before.

I stood on the beach, and looked out into the ocean, and what I thought was this:  the person I have loved the most in the world is right across that ocean.  This vacation was supposed to be in London, I should have been traveling to see him.  An ocean isn’t much to me anymore– it’s not an obstacle.  We conquered the ocean; we conquered immigration, too.  We overcame what we thought would be impossible:  we conquered time, space, distance.  The obstacles we ran into were unexpected, tragic.  I am a cynic when it comes to love but when I met this man, I felt love for him that I had always believed to be just out of my reach.  I thought– I believed– that this love would overcome anything.  It was that strong, at least for me.

So.  Running away from my sadness didn’t work.

I did manage to get just one speeding ticket (I expected more, honestly, I am a speed demon on the interstate) and I did get to see the mountains and the beach.  I am a little disturbed by the trend of crosses on the roadside, I saw literally thousands of them and was irked each time.  More on that later, perhaps.

The question that I have not been able to answer is this:  What is my life to be like now?  What does the future hold?  What am I to do with my life, now?

You’d think after going on holiday, I’d be a little less serious and not so introspective.  Clearly I’m not doing something right.

Let me explain:  A couple of years ago, my bar scene-savvy, thirty-something male neighbor mentioned something about ‘cougars’ at the bar.  I can’t remember what he said, exactly, but he led me to believe a cougar was a woman over forty who happened to date younger men.  The term has gained much popularity and momentum over the past couple of years.  Hell, there’s even a reality show akin to the bachelor/bachelorette shows with a cougar making her way through a slew of younger men.  The definitions of a cougar on Urban Dictionary generally include the fact that the cougar is a ‘hunter’ and is sexually aggressive and not monogamous.  Apparently, she is also to be found hunting in bars, looking in particular for men under the age of 25.

Now.  I happen to be a woman who dates younger men as well.  I don’t go hunting for them in bars, or anywhere else for that matter:  it just seems that for the last 15 years, all I’ve met are younger men.  Or, to be more specific, men younger than me.  My most recent love was ten years younger.  I don’t know why this is, it just is.

Last night, as I was having a beer with my cousin Lisa, I happened to point out this particular dating habit of mine, and I also noted that the age difference has increasingly widened.  She told me a story about a 50-something woman she knows who also dates younger men, and that she also had been widening the gap with each man she dated.  There was a joke going around about this woman that next, she’ll be dating sperm.  I found this hilarious, but also frightening.  Is this where I’m headed?  Geez, I freakin’ hope not.

It’s interesting to me, though, that these women who are deemed ‘cougars’ are actively seeking out younger men.  I can certainly see the appeal, but at the same time, I don’t feel I’ve ever sought out younger men.  I don’t hang out in clubs or bars.  All the men my age are either married with children, gay, or in jail.  Honestly, I cannot even remember the last time I met a man close to my age.  Oh, wait:  yes I do.  It was 2002, and I was working in a cafe.  Seven years ago!  One was an alcoholic chef, and the other moved away.  So much for that.

So basically, this is the equation I’ve come up with:  cougars chasing sperm.  Just not exactly the sperm you would think they’d be  chasing.

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