First date

21 May

Not the scenic route, but fond memories all the same.

My husband and I didn’t celebrate our seven year wedding anniversary yesterday, because he was working and I was watching Ryan Gosling being sleazy and sexy at the same time in ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’. Last week I spent a lot of time thinking about how I was going to write something nice about my husband as an honest, affectionate ode to our love, because I think he gets a bit of a raw deal on my blog. But then we fell out over the weekend so I had to have a rethink.

I thought and then I decided to be nice anyway. I’m a fickle wife, you see. It only takes half a rubbish day together and the exchange of a few unkind words for me to decide that I actually don’t like my husband very much (nor he me) and then I think I don’t want to spend any time with him at all.

(The thing that started the argument was money. Everything seems to be about dosh – or the lack of – recently. We were at a car boot at the crack of dawn on Saturday, in the freezing cold with the children. I was frantically trying to find a kitchen table, as I’ve sold ours, along with our sofa and a couple of other items of quite essential furniture. It was another one of my badly thought out money making schemes. Unfortunately, I have yet to find replacements, and we’ll probably be eating a lot of indoor carpet picnics, until I can find a well-built, stylish table for under a tenner.)

But bad moods aside, for now anyway. It is, after all, a celebration of getting this far. We lasted more than any car I’ve ever owned, even if we break up tomorrow. I bought my husband a badge as a gift that says “Burn This CIty.” It was 50p from a car boot (who needs Liberty and fancy cologne when there are gifts such as these to be found?)

Good and bad thoughts about our relationship have been drifting through my mind whilst driving around. Being in the car gives me the rare opportunity for some head space, a chance to zone out. Sometimes looking back is awful and makes me feel too sad, either because times were bad, or simply because I’ve lost something, or someone in my life I actually quite liked. But sometimes delving into the past is essential. On Saturday, on the way back from dropping my daughter at the cinema in Clapham, I slipped off the South Circular down a side road. I recognised the newsagent where we’d bought some cigarettes after our first lunch together. From my car window, I could almost see us both walking arm in arm, on that crisp Sunday afternoon, when we barely knew each other at all. We wanted to know so much: now it seems we scarcely get the time to find out anything new about each other. That day we discussed family, Woody Allen, car boots, booze, our take on religion, children, food, the cities we wanted to visit and my love of driving and his fear of it. We’d only met the night before.

It was his nose that did it. I’m a sucker for big noses, and a Roman honk paired with a camel coat like the one that Arthur Daley wore in Minder? From the moment that I spotted him in The White Horse pub on Brixton Hill I was smitten. So I asked for a light and we chatted, then we kissed, then he dumped the friends he’d arrived with and I left my sister behind the bar (she worked there) and we walked back to mine.  I remember thinking that he was kind and interested and interesting. The first night we spent in separate rooms, me upstairs in my bed and him on the sofa. In the morning he had his first ever conversation with a 3 year old (my daughter). He didn’t get to sleep in until noon that Sunday, and I’m not sure he’s had a proper lie-in since.

Talking about children wasn’t ever a simple ‘if’ or ‘when’ discussion: it was part of my life and whatever future my husband to be may have envisaged in the early days of our relationship have always included my daughter. She was part of the deal. Sometimes I think that she, and our subsequent offspring have saved us, and sometimes I know they’ve made everything a little harder. We have never been without at least one in our relationship, We didn’t have time to get wasted and behave recklessly when we felt like it. Our weekends have always started at 7am; we haven’t had the privilege of really getting to know each other without heavy responsibility in our lives. Our children have been the oil at times, and the grit at others.

I’m planning on walking that route again soon, with just my husband and no kids in tow. It’s really not very scenic (a noisy three lane carriageway and a couple of Tesco Expresses are the only views to take in) but it’ll always be our route. I want to recapture just a taste of the not knowing each other that we once had. We were so new. None of the nagging or the worrying or the realisation that life with children can become heavy and fetid and out of control at times, without the hard work that it takes to keep things chugging along.

We need to remember when times were better than this. Just as friendships can falter at times (my oldest friend once confessed that she’d torn a photo of me from her wall after I’d failed to contact her when I’d gone to a new school) the memories of the early days will always make me smile. All the bits in between first meeting and the present will fade and eventually disappear, but those first days will always stick in my mind like glue.

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One Response to “First date”

  1. Suzy May 21, 2012 at 12:33 pm #

    Nicely put.

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