A couple of weeks ago we went to a family wedding on the other side of the country. It took us all day to get there which, as I love being on the road, was time happily spent. Our children love long journeys too. In my daughter’s case, I wonder whether this is learned behaviour. She’s happy travelling because we are. But in my son, I recognise his inherent wanderlust. When he was still at primary school he once asked, “When you go to university, you don’t have to go near to where you live, do you?”
“Oh no”, I replied. “You can go as far away as you like. I did.”
Coincidentally, the family wedding that we travelled to was just a few miles from where I went to university. Leaning out of our hotel bedroom on that first evening, and twenty-five years since I was last there, I looked at the familiar hills, breathed in the scent of the place and remembered it.
Weddings can be a fraught affair; a hotbed for nerves and for simmering family tensions. This wedding was no different with clashes of personal truths and the potential for family histrionics but at its heart was the union of two young people who very clearly love each other completely. After the meal we went and sat for a while in the bar area. I laughed and commented on the fact that if my husband and I were drinking there would not be so many half-finished bottles of wine lying about. He shot me a look that at once said, ‘Don’t talk like that in front of the kids’ and ‘Yes, you’re absolutely right, we wouldn’t leave a drop’. We didn’t drink at the wedding. My husband hasn’t had a drink for over a month now. Sobriety is not a subject we talk about in depth. We were firm stay-at-home-drinking-partners so the ground beneath our married sober feet is still unfamiliar.
I think of the girl I was back then, twenty-five years ago, in that place where the hills are green and the landscape so different to where I live now. That girl had already learned to bury feelings way, way down, well out of reach. The art of self-deception was already mastered. She deserved better, that girl. Twenty-five years later, I’m learning that I can make it up to her, make it up to me. It’s never too late. This is the moment that counts. Love it and live it.