I was watching 'One Born Every Minute' the other night (no, don't worry, I wasn't inspired to have another baby!) and there was a couple on there who - gasp! - had an age-gap relationship. There was (wait for it) 12 years between them.
Watching them together on the VT, I couldn't help but think they looked a bit 'odd' together. He looked... well - old. She looked about 16.
I tried to imagine how Ray and I must look to the outside world.
Ray's age (currently (it's his birthday tomorrow)) is 63. Mine is 36. At the moment we mirror each other, at least numerically. I commented to Ray today that the next time we mirror each other, I'll be 47 and he'll be 74. Then we realised it would also be 58 and 85, and (god help us) 69 and 96 (and let's just leave it there) - there are 28 years between us, but obviously (if anyone's doing the maths) during the month between our birthdays, there are 27 - hence the mirroring.
My point is, we probably go past people in the street and they assume either (a) he's my dad, (b) he's rich, or (c) he's well endowed.
Well, readers, I'm glad to say (a) is wrong, sad to say (b) is wrong and as for (c) let's just say a lady never tells...
Before I got myself into this relationship, I wasn't into sugar daddies; I didn't hang around the old people's home hoping for a glimpse of a rippling torso (skin, not muscle). And I certainly didn't volunteer for meals on wheels in the hope of a romantic dinner for two. My other 'boyfriends' were the same age as me, more or less.
I didn't see Ray across the staffroom at the school we worked at and say 'he's the one'. (Unless I said, "he's the one in charge of Year 11" or some such).
In fact, my first memory of Ray is when I got very, VERY drunk at the pub after school and remember talking and talking and TALKING to him. And just not wanting to stop. But I thought he was married and - as he was so much older (and I was engaged) - didn't think of him in any other way than a good friend.
I didn't know at the time, but Ray and his wife were going through a divorce, and he was looking for another house and moving out/on.
That summer - my first 6 weeker as a bona-fide teacher - I sat (again in the pub) with a group of teacher-friends including Ray. He put his arm around me for a photo.
And I'm not kidding, it was like an electrical charge ran through me.
That summer, I realised I had feelings for him. I broke off my engagement - not to get together with Ray (still thought he was too old) but because I knew if I could feel THAT way about another man, then the one I was with was not the one.
And then, over the summer Ray and I fell in love.
Two years later we were married.
There were lots of hurdles to get over in between - getting approval from family (or at least acceptance), overcoming rumours and sniggers at school (from staff and kids!). But, at the age of 26, I married a man more than twice my age.
Not just a man.
Ray isn't (to me) like other men I've dated. He's dependable, he's great with the kids, he's stuck through me through my ups and downs; even the worst of the downs. He's funny, he gets on my nerves sometimes, and his sense of humour doesn't always hit the mark.
But there is no doubt in my mind that we're meant to be together.
I do worry about the future; I wonder what it would be like if we were the same age (would it be easier? Probably in some ways). I realise that there may be a time when things aren't "ideal."
But this year is our 10 year anniversary.
We may be 36 and 63, but our hearts are 1.