So, there we were, each in our respective bathrooms taking a moment to decompress from the drive and from each other. At this point, I was totally disillusioned to Michael and his world of self-importance. He may have been rich, but he lacked empathy and had no moral compass.
While I was in the bathroom feeling a little irritated with him, I decided to send a text to my friend (and his ex) Kate and Keegan to see how they were. I felt alone, despite being here in this fancy hotel with a rich older man. I just wanted to hear that someone somewhere was happy to hear from me and not wrapped up in their own lives.
Kate responded immediately. She had fallen madly in love with her college sweetheart, whom she was now chatting online with, because of his work abroad. She was so ecstatically happy that he was finally coming to see her after almost 10 years. I was happy for her; finally, a relationship of more substance and value. That’s just what Kate needed, and it’s what I wanted, too.
Keegan responded after a few minutes. He was happy to hear from me and asked how I was doing. As usual, he was at work, trying to get ahead. His education brought him far, but his work ethic took him even further. There was something about him that I couldn’t quite shake; I wanted to know more about him. It wasn’t love at first sight, but it most definitely was a solid connection from the very beginning. Because we met at the bar, it was hard to separate from that feeling of it being wrong to talk to a customer outside of work.
Michael suddenly knocked on my door. “Are you ready to go? Put on a nice pair of jeans. There’s a gift for you on the bed. Meet me in the lobby in 20 minutes.”
I started giving myself a little pep talk, similar to the one I had given myself on the way to his company party. I knew there would be people there who would look at me like Michael’s daughter, his granddaughter even, or like a money seeker. There would be people who would look me square in the eye with a smile and shake my hand, but be shooting darts straight at my face, who will think and talk very poorly about me behind my back just because I am so much younger than Michael. They expected me just hide away like his “dirty little secret,” not come here and mingle with them.
I’ve grown a thick skin against people like this, from having always dated an older man. It’s who I am and who I enjoy being, yet for some reason, most people cannot wrap their heads around this—they cannot understand that happiness truly does not know any age limits. All they can see are societal bounds, the bounds that prevent them from doing what really makes them happy.
Everyone assumes that I’m just young, stupid, and naive. Maybe I am, but I think they need to have a closer look inside of themselves before passing judgment on me. I may not be completely satisfied with Michael, but he had a good heart deep down inside. And so do I. We enjoyed spending time together, and at the end of the day, that was what was most important. All of a sudden, I felt empowered. I didn’t care what they thought. I was the one who was doing what made me happy.