Once I was 69, if someone asked me my age – not that someone ever did, but if I suggested it in conversation – I always said, “I almost 70 years. ” I went directly from 68 to “almost 70”, as if 69 represented nothing other than the year before being at a decade of 80 (as I have seen since).
It was in this year of “almost 70 years” that I emailed my ex-husband, Charles, and asked if he could lead me to our youngest daughter’s best friend’s wedding in Solvang, just north of Santa Barbara. He and I live in Los Angeles, and I didn’t want to go to the wedding alone. It was perhaps the first time in 20 years since our breakup that I said out loud that I did not want to do something alone.
I have spent the last two decades not only being single, but writing a few films about divorced women my age – expressly defying the clichés that being older and single meant you were destined to be unwanted, lonely, and isolated. . I have written about women in my films who flourished after divorce, as I did in some respects.
I was motivated by the desire not to be put in a box by my age or my divorce, and I wanted to project a positive twist for women like me. And in my films, I wanted to try to be funny with all of this. Why not laugh at what life has in store for us?
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It was therefore a great thing for me, at almost 70 years of age, to ask my ex-husband, among all of them, to accompany me to a wedding outside the city.
Not only had I not been in a car with him for more than 20 years, but I had not been alone with him all this time. But something about being almost 70 didn’t worry so much about the past or what led to our breakup.
After our divorce, he remarried, had twins, and was divorced again. I was his third wife. She was his fourth. Our relationship lasted the longest of her four marriages – something I’ve always been strangely proud of. We spent almost all of our 22 years together making movies. People combined my last name, Meyers, with his, Shyer, and called us “The Shmeyers”.
We worked together, had two children together and were inseparable. My psychiatrist at the time when we had difficulties ended each session saying to me: “Too much conviviality”.
I felt my ex wouldn’t mind driving me to the wedding, so I emailed him and asked. His response was quick and friendly: “Sure.”
We have lived 5 kilometers apart for more than 20 years, but I have almost never met him. I once met his ex-wife after their breakup. When she was married to him, I couldn’t really identify with her, but when I saw her right after they broke up, I felt empathetic and I found a connection that I had never seen before. .
I see Charles at Thanksgiving and our children’s birthday parties and now at our grandchildren’s birthday parties. Depending on our mood, we sometimes sit at opposite ends of the birthday table or side by side, and when we do the latter, we often get along almost as in the past.
Shorthand returns right away, but then, always, something in me will cut this connection. It’s like I don’t want him to have so much access to me. Is it a punishment for things from the past? I do not know. I just know that I will only let him get so close. This has been my destination for a very long time.
I made films with characters based on Charles. In one, “It’s Complicated,” Meryl Streep has an affair with her ex-husband, Alec Baldwin. The affair never took place in real life, but the distribution between Meryl and Alec, this familiar, funny and sarcastic atmosphere, “Je te fait pote” – the easy laugh that quickly becomes distant – that’s the kind from U.S.
I don’t think Charles liked me writing something like us. He told me when the film was released that he was not going to see it. Ten years later, he has never spoken to me about it yet. And then there is the ex-husband in “Something must give”. I really like to write the character of the ex-husband, a relationship rich in humor and filled with pain.
For our trip to Solvang, Charles asked me to drive to his house because it was closer to the highway and we were going to the wedding from there. When I arrived, he invited me.
I had not been with him for more than a decade. He was now cluttered with things from the past 20 years, a part of his life that I knew little about. And mixed with these unknown things, there were some of our old things: paintings that I remember we bought together, a Mexican pitcher that we bought at an antique fair. I loved this pitcher and forgot everything.
I saw leather bound scripts that we had written together sitting on a shelf, looking like the ones sitting on a shelf in my house. I walked past her daughter’s room and saw a lot of our daughter’s old furniture. I turned around and headed for the door and asked, “Should we go?”
As we withdrew from its entrance, it looked strangely like a first date. We were there, sitting side by side in this confined space, and it was embarrassing. I had to say something just to find my way, so I started talking about our children and what they were doing. But soon the conversation got easier, more relaxed, and he laughed at the things I said, like he always did, and I felt more comfortable and I didn’t put the wall down between us. I just let us be.
Time has flown. The three hour drive lasted approximately 20 minutes. We arrived at our very romantic hotel, both side by side, announcing our names. I almost expected the receptionist to tell me unfortunately that there was an error in the reservations and Charles and I had to share a room. But no – I had booked in one wing of the hotel and it was in the other.
We went for a walk in the city, visited a local museum and chatted non-stop. We had a backlog of 20 years to discuss. Our walk in the charming Solvang was like a film montage where you don’t hear the dialogue but know that these two people get along.
Then we went back to our rooms to prepare for the wedding. We met in the hall and left. At the wedding, we sat at the table with all the parents of the bride’s friends, couples we have always known, who all miraculously stayed together.
Later that night Charles took me back to my room and we said good night. I waved awkwardly and made a goofball expression that stated the obvious: that this moment, at least in one film, would be ridiculously heavy. We both laughed and said we would meet for breakfast.
After we got home, a friend of ours who attended the wedding told me that he was driving next to us on the highway towards Los Angeles and he kept honking and greeting us, but said we were so deep into the conversation that we never noticed it.
Months have passed. We met at our grandson’s 6th birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. He brought his twins, we smiled and greeted the room. And then another wedding invitation arrived, this time for a local ceremony.
I sent her an email: “Should we go together?”
The day after this wedding, he sent an email: “It’s amazing how easy it is for us to be together one by one – effortless. You looked shattering in this dress. That he has done?”
I laughed. “Yeah,” I wrote. “It’s almost like I’ve known you forever.” I added the puzzled emoji face with his finger on his chin. I told her my dress was from Erdem.
Two months later, Charles asked me if I wanted to be his “plus 1” at a 105th birthday party for one of his friends.
My response was quick and friendly: “Sure.”
One of my daughters recently told me that Charles had a new girlfriend. He likes to be in a relationship. My daughters said that they had met her and that she seemed nice and had given them each a book.
Having written my share of romantic comedies, I am enjoying a happy ending, and I think Charles and I have finally found ours. I am no longer almost 70; I am 70 years old, and it turns out that my 60 years ended with a surprise end: it brought me a new relationship with Charles which can be described as “old friends”.