Dear A – a funny sort of love letter

You know that clock that shows the Earth’s age and then blows your mind by reminding you that humans have only been around for like a second? Well, if that clock was for marriages, A and I would be a millisecond.

Which probably goes some way to explaining why I’m not that great at marriage (yet). I’m really not, there are days when I think “man, I did not win at marriage today” or “wow, that was some bad marriage-ing just there”. It normally involves tissues in the washing machine, inadvertent messiness, hangry meltdowns or eating all the Maya Gold chocolate in the house.

I wish this was an exaggeration but it’s really, truly not – willingly splitting the last 4 squares of chocolate (instead of eating it all, which is my gut instinct) is one of my best marriage moves.

I can’t even use the word husband that often, I bottle it and end up saying “my A.” instead.

You are probably going to laugh at me when I tell you that this is a love letter. My thought was, as paper signifies Year One of marriage, I’d be throughly modern and print out a blog post for A. I think I’m proving, right here, just how brilliant I am at this marriage business.

That’s right people, I’ve been grappling with marriage for almost a year now, actually I guess that’s more of a ‘we’ thing (the ‘we’ thing, that’s marriage 101). We’ve been grappling with marriage for almost a year – 28th of May, if anyone’s wondering.

And like I said, I’m not brilliant at it, I’m even slightly embarrassed to celebrate our anniversary. I mean 10, 20, 30 years, that I get, that’s weighty. You’ve got to respect that kind of sticking power. I’ll throw us a ticker-tape parade when we reach a decade. But a year? What business have we to celebrate that? That’s blink and you’ll miss it territory.

Plus, it’s not actually a year, we’ve been together (mostly, anyway) for nearly 7 years! Do those 6 previous years get wiped from our slate? I’m not cool with that, those 6 years were hard won. We learnt some painful lessons in those years, we grew up in those years, we survived those years. I’m damn proud of those years. They were a lot tougher than our first newly wed year, that’s for sure and certain.

Also, I guess I’m new to this, but should I need a special day to celebrate a wedding? I prefer living a marriage. I rejoice daily, or at the very least weekly, when I realise that waking up to A is a rest of my life deal. If he’s away for work, it makes my heart glad, that he is legally contracted to come home to me, eventually. When flying back from a blissful holiday together, though sad, it’s fine really because we fly home together.

I’m hoping I can learn marriage or more importantly partnership by example. We’re surrounded by couples who show us what that truly looks like. We know fellow elopees, the newly engaged, some who have a scant year on us and the seven year itchers. We have role models for whom marriage isn’t their jam; who survive just fine without the paperwork. There are others who have been married for decades.

It is endlessly fascinating to me, watching how these people do it. How they compromise, work through their junk, How they LOVE.

They love in a way that is sure and true and deep. They love despite some things and because of others. They love through the uncertainty, this minefield of a life. They love through morning breath and explosive diarrhoea. They love in a way that makes sharing the chocolate come easily.

And it’s all so bloomin’ different it seems to me; someone’s total deal breaker, is another person’s Tuesday afternoon.

We talk about the uniqueness of snowflakes but it’s this weaving, complex dance, this joining with a some one else, that’s unique – and hopefully less icy.

So do we celebrate the art of love or surviving relatively intact? Can we celebrate halcyon days or not quitting this year? Do we celebrate the memory of the day we decided to be brave? Does what we celebrate change from year to year?

Some people shun it, some people have fought tirelessly for the right to do it. Marriage clearly isn’t for everyone. I’m not even sure it would have been right for me with anybody else. It wouldn’t have stuck. It’s the being married to A that fits. It fits like it doesn’t need celebrating. We are just where we should be.

So for that reason, I want to get good at marriage because all I really know is, for me, being married to A feels better than not being married to him. I want to continue to have the privilege and it is a privilege, of loving him and being loved by him.


Out of Office / Out of My Mind

I am away. Out of Office. Yet compelled to write.

I read a lot when I go away. I’m in an Agatha Christie zone at the moment, so much so that I’m living a kind of weird half life as an 85 year old sleuther I’m not sure that A. my 32 year old companion appreciates being on holiday with this weird hybrid, especially as I am not that cool as my 36 year old self. In all honesty I think Miss Marple has me pipped to the post in most departments but as Cava is 3 Euros a bottle; I’m not sure any of us are actually worrying.

To give myself and A. a break I decided to give Lena Dunham “Not that kind of Girl” a go. It has been downloaded and forgotten on my iPad for 2 years now. It’s eye opening, especially to the 85 year old in me. I am intimidated. I’m about half way through it. So far I’m wondering if everyone who is raised in NYC, grows up at light speed, if that’s a good thing and pondering whether I should (while simultaneously being relieved that I don’t) have more/any weird sex stories.

Plus there’s her huge talent for writing, directing and acting. Plus there’s her age. I am intimidated.

It’s dangerous reading, which is probably why it’s taken me 2 years to get to. It’s dangerous because as anyone who’s be eyeballing up their existences knows, when faced with the achievements of those younger than yourself, you can easily feel you’ve made all the wrong choices about all the wrong things. That time is marching on and you are none the wiser about who you are and whether you are remotely on the right path.

You can feel at ease one day, that this is the way everyone feels and the next you feel oh so foolish that you didn’t have the balls to write about it when you were 25. That it’s taken you a full decade longer to be even a little bit comfortable with expressing yourself or thinking that the way you form sentences isn’t just the way that everyone else does, so why bother doing it?

I like articles that tell me that 40 is the new 30, mainly because I feel like I turned 30 and then hit pause, every birthday since I’ve blown out my candles and wished, really WISHED that some semblance of a normal year would follow. Every New Year’s I’d baptise myself in fizzing bubbles meaning to wipe the slate clean and start again shine and new (sidenote: waking up with a hangover doesn’t really work with this symbolic gesture, you feel rusty before you begin).

Then someone would die, have a breakdown, break my heart or get cancer (mostly me) and normal would seem like a unicorn in a tutu. Then life would be about ‘getting through’ or ‘surviving’ and whining about it on this here little blog and I’d put off for another year the actual things that make you a grown up, which nobody can explain but I feel that I’ve yet to achieve.

Then last November I blew out my candles and wished for a quiet year but this time I got it and I’ve spent many hours since trying to create the drama that seems more normal to me. Like a sailor who still sleeps in a hammock while she/he’s on shore leave. High stakes and heightened emotions feel like my norm, cold turkey seems so much greyer than I predicted.

It’s not just big dramas either, take this holiday. I refused to pack until about an hour before we departed. It’s weird.

So now I sit here in our little piece of heaven for a week in a sort of lovely duel solitary confinement – we have a pool, sun loungers and a BBQ, we really don’t need to see anyone else and it’s like the sun is actually drying me out, mellowing me out.

Until I pick up Ms Dunham’s book and come face to face with everything I am not. My drama addicted brain starts pushing my buttons and I’m twitchy and spoiling for something I can’t quite put my finger on. Then I turn the page and learn that she is frightened of dying and of cancer. And suddenly I can’t relate but in a totally different way. So I go back to Agatha Christie and watch my scars, both inside and out, turn golden (under a heavy layer of factor 50) in the sun.