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  Citizens of Different Countries  

van is 20 years younger than I am. And every time I talk to him I’m struck, again, by how completely not insane our relationship was.

There are all sorts of assumptions made about relationships with such a huge age difference. Like obviously we’d enjoy different kinds of music. Or that he’d be so unschooled in the refinements of the world that I couldn’t take him anywhere. Or that he’d be scorned for being seen in public with someone who looks like his mother.

Every one of these assumptions proved to be untrue. We could not stop talking – we talked on the road, at work, in the parking lot. I was never bored; he was never confused. We saw La Boheme together at the Met, and were both moved to tears. Nobody laughed at the way we looked together because we looked good.

The age difference manifested itself in ways I could never have predicted. It was not that we were strangers. It was more that we were from different cultures. And the biggest difference was that I had been to his country, but he had never been to mine.

Little things brought out the difference. He had a $6000 sound system in his Honda. In his country he still had a concept called “expendable income.” He lived in the house he grew up in, with his mother. That was like finding out my lover regularly ate monkey brains for afternoon tea. And he thought that life could be planned. That was one of the few things I laughed openly about. Life could be planned: only someone from his country could entertain a notion that sweetly far-fetched.

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