Funny what comes up in discussion when people talk to me about “Sarah’s Survival Guide.” Early in the story Sarah refers to “an old guy” who’s ten years older than her. When I was Sarah’s age (19) I thought anybody over 30 was old. That was the age line I drew in the sand for dating. If a guy over 30 tried to ask me out, it felt creepy.
Until John. He was the lead singer and lead guitarist in a band that played at a bar I frequented after my waitress shift was over. I didn’t think about John’s age. Any guy with a guitar was auto-hot to me back then. And he didn’t seem old, not a bit. So we started dating. By the time I learned he was 30, I was already in love. I realized my line in the sand was silly. The same thing happens to Sarah.
John and I eventually moved in together. He had a house. He was a real grown up. And he had a dream to move to California, with or without me. We lived together for a year or so and in that time all of our differences, none of them age-related, came out. I wanted children; he did not. I wanted a conventional life; he still dreamed of making it big as a musician.
I liked a cocktail now and then. John didn’t drink or party at all. A bad experience with LSD made him straight, while I was still a little bit bent. He tried to talk to me about drinking, and why I shouldn’t, but it felt like lectures. Now I see the wisdom in his words. (Although I still drink wine and the very occasional vodka martini.) He wanted complete clarity in his life. He also wanted to become a vegetarian at a time when my usual dinner was either from Taco Bell or McDonald’s.
I tried to enter into the spirit of healthy living by making veggie burgers one night. Wow, what work! Way more work than forming some ground beef into a patty. But I did it for John, because I loved him. It’s ironic than I’m a vegetarian now. I like to think John would approve.
The real sticking point for us was family. I approved of his idea about moving to California, but I knew he was not “the one” because we wanted such different things. In the end, he moved to California with another girl. When you’re a singer in a rock and roll band, there is always another girl.
By then I was dating the guy who would become the father of my children. He ticked all the boxes, home, family, conventional life. Plus he was only five years older than me. Not that I think ten years is too big a gap. That was not even part of the problem with John and me. But it’s a bit of a problem for David, the “old guy” Sarah starts to like a little too much for his comfort.