A bonus long weekend post in honour of my nephew Tom and his mother – my friend – Anne
A gift like Anne comes along once in a lifetime
An in-law who becomes a close friend, confidante and partner-in-crime. From the day we met, we got the point of each other. We laughed at each other’s jokes, shared each other’s pain (including a common mother-in-law), went on holidays together and shared a brood of children who were best mates and just happened to be first cousins.
Love was a terrible thing […] Not perhaps my cup of tea.
So says Mildred Lathbury, self-proclaimed spinster and one of the ‘excellent women’ of Barbara Pym’s 1950s novel of the same name. The setting is post-war London – the start of the baby boom – when early marriage and motherhood are the norm. Little wonder that thirty-something Mildred thinks she’s missed the (love) boat.
Dividing the assets of a marriage is complicated, especially when those assets are precious friendships. Deciding who gets custody of mutual friends can be one of the most heartbreaking tasks of separation and divorce.
It’s human to have a secret, but it’s just as human to reveal it sooner or later.
― Philip Roth
I used to think baring one’s soul was a by-product of being a writer.
And maybe it is. But not all writers are secret-sharers. I know writers who are keen observers of humankind but prefer to remain unobserved themselves. I admire them but can’t emulate them. Such people do well not to let me into their secrets. For while I’m a great sharer of my own, I’m a reluctant holder of others’.
I’m taking time out from a hectic travel schedule. From my table at the window I look out at a Sunday market in the tiny Place Lino Ventura. A full length mirror is placed outside a clothes stall directly in my line of vision. A middle aged woman trying on a leopardskin coat transforms before my eyes. She swings it this way and that, coming alive in front of the looking glass. She isn’t thinking about the shopping, the cooking or the week ahead. Suddenly radiant in the light Parisian drizzle, I imagine she is thinking about where such a coat might take her.
It’s the kind of milestone that attracts commiserations rather than congratulations. I don’t see it that way. I held a Sunset Soiree between the senior-friendly hours of 5pm and 9pm to watch the sun set on my youth.
Friendships – like gardens – require time, effort, the occasional bit of pruning, and boundless love.
The harvest you reap will sustain you throughout bountiful spring times and miserable winters. Luckily for me, my garden has been lovingly tended and has produced the best assortment of flowers a girl could wish for.