Amara U, Flickr
It is perhaps indicative of just how activity-starved my life has been lately that all it takes is a week’s notice for me to drag myself across the 397 odd miles down south to join K, family and parents in celebrating 35 years of staying married. In fairness to her, Royal Mail had a hand in the late invitation; when she texted me frantically that Friday afternoon, it was with a mind to chide me for my legendary tardiness. Only my strenuous denials backed up by the fact that I had moved houses recently saved me in the end. Long story short, I ended up on Friday night in the comparatively upscale setting of South Harrow, the hub around which we all converged – from every nook and cranny of the world it seemed, Scotland ably represented by yours truly.
Amidst the brightly coloured costumes, the odd great conversation and the excited dancing- Nigerian (women) elevate dancing to something between an art form and extreme aerobics- one of the more enduring scenes for me was one I had no business being part of but which in the end provided some framing for the lessons I am learning in this phase of life I am in.
At the core of the delicate moment was a handy man brought in to put finishing touches to some redecoration. Somehow he’d managed to over run to such an extent that just before we all had to leave for the venue the question of how to provide access to him, the gregarious if a tad irritating Italian, was a seething problem. He, the father, was of the opinion that the handy man should be sent packing forthwith, ostensibly with a penalty applied to his payment for failing to deliver. She was of the opinion that he had earned the trust and goodwill of the family to be left alone to finish his work whilst the rest of us were away. The scene, of argument and counter argument, is one I found intimately familiar; with a few years between them it could have been my own parents having the conversation – the pragmatic, real world skills of my mother defusing a potentially tense situation and delivering a workable solution, often inspite of my father’s interventions.
Thinking back, over the course of the weekend there were more instances of that – which amidst all the wild dancing and eulogising had me thinking that maybe I, and my generation, have it backward. Thirty-five years of marriage clearly hadn’t diminshed their chemistry – there was plenty of evidence of that over the weekend – but just maybe the key to their longevity was in the synergies they had evolved over the years, managing to balance each other’s extremes out. Or maybe I was just overthinking it – drawing wide ranging conclusions on the basis of a few hours of observation. I do think not.