January 24, 2012 § 50 Comments
From yesterday’s Times:-
Nothing happens in January so I leapt upon my first party of 2012. Getting out there, you see. According to all and sundry, it is the duty of any responsible plankton to do so at all times, so I do.
The room was a-jostle with middle-aged verging on aged folk and I was struck by a terrible sadness. It wasn’t that they – we! – were old or grim because we weren’t that old and everyone was far from grim. It was more because their very jollity had about it an air of comfort and contentment and confidence which seemed to say they had passed through most of life’s ruffles and had come out the other side – marriages and friendships intact, children growing or grown up and on the road, a certain tranquility achieved.
I felt at odds with my peers. Oh, I looked comfortable, content and confident enough – I’m good at that. I talked the talk with the best of them but inside there was – is – a weight, heavy, rough and sharp-edged as a breeze block. This sense, in amongst the banter and guffaws, of being there with them, but somehow not part of something of which they are all a part.
A husband humorously hassling his wife to hurry up, they must be off to meet their (adult) children for supper. A wife tugging her husband and hastening their goodbyes because she’s got a craving for a takeaway curry from their local Indian on the way home. All these people like me, individuals in a circle of friends, but each of them a unit within it, and to a degree defined by it.
And me? I approached a former twinkle (NB. not even a former date, or ex-lover or boyfriend, just a twinkle) whom I had seen a few times a year or two ago. Then, he was newly divorced and raw. We circled each other for a several weeks and considered unspoken possibilities, but the considering never did graduate to progressing. Now, it is evident that time has done its bit. He was breathing again; cheerful, relaxed and really friendly. And he seemed genuinely pleased to see me to the point I thought, maybe past considerations hadn’t flourished because of timing but now that we are both very much Over It, perhaps we would both do well to reconsider?
Fool me. Will I never learn?
We talked and laughed for quite a while but the crowd was thinning and the night beckoning. I went to say goodbye to a friend. He had seen me talking to the former twinkle.
“I’ve known him for years,” he said. “Didn’t know you knew him. Terrible divorce. Ghastly. Ghastly. Then he had an affair with someone and now he’s in love with someone else and it’s going terribly well, I gather, terribly well.”