Sometime around 47 or 48, I began to dread turning 50. Then, as I turned 49, my feet suddenly gave out. I cried bitterly over the loss of my sexy shoes; even worse the orthopedic shoes didn’t help; nor did any of the other treatments I underwent over a miserable year. Frustrated by my inability to fix my aging feet, I decided to do something about my too-large breasts and belly. Right after my 50th birthday I had plastic surgery followed by a two-month convalescence. While I was recovering, a new foot doctor recommended surgery; so as soon as I had recovered I went back into the hospital and under the knife again. This time it was a four-month recovery – 6 weeks in a wheel chair, 6 weeks on crutches, 6 weeks walking with a cane. By the time I reached my 51st birthday, I was no longer worrying about my lost youth.
While this sounds like a solitary drama, it was actually something Dick and I did together. He went to every doctor’s appointment and stayed with me during the 5 hours of my plastic surgery; all that hard year he took care of me. The way his care mixed with desire taught me a new sexiness — not the shiny one associated with youth but the darker intimacy of the vulnerable body.
Dick took me to Paris for my 50th birthday; he pushed me in a wheelchair so we could stroll the boulevards. On the morning of my birthday, we lay in our hotel room overlooking the Boulevard Montparnasse and made a list of everything wrong with both our bodies, competing to see who had the longer list. We started laughing and ended up shtupping.
These pictures come from the period where Dick and I learned about mature love. They have 3 locations: the house where we live with our children Max and Ruby, the hospitals and doctors’ offices of my surgeries, and the hotel where we went once a month to get away from the kids so we could have loud, long sex with the lights on.
—Jane Gallop, Distinguished Professor