Month: August 2015

Notes from the Golden Land

I suppose that what I really wanted to say that day at my daughter’s school is that we never reach a point at which our lives lie before us a a clearly marked open road, never have and never should expect a map to the years ahead, never do close those circles that seem, at thirteen and fourteen and nineteen, so urgently in need of closing. ‘Pacific Distances’ in Sentimental Journeys by Joan Didion I‘ve only been to the States once before: in the spring of 1992, we stayed with English friends who were spending a couple of years in Connecticut. I was thirteen. I went to school with my friend Jane (who was by then Jayne) and stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, and marvelled at the unregulated opportunities to eat fries and donuts and drink thick milkshakes that the lunch hall provided. But when we arrived in LA in the late afternoon, it seemed that I knew the tropes — the palm trees, the golden light, the impossible clarity and size of that blue, …

Yes

This post was meant to go up on Friday 24 July. It was mostly drafted, but then I ran out of time. Anyway, here it is. ****** When B asked me to marry him we’d been going out for a little over three months. It was September 1999, the eve of my 21st birthday, and we were alone in the darkness of my childhood garden. Darkness with just the two of us inside it. Deckchairs side-by-side. Portishead playing on the stereo. Inside the party carried drunkenly on. ‘Yes,’ I said. ‘But I could never marry anyone.’  It was an ambiguous response. But we left the garden and went and found my seventeen-year-old brother to ask his permission. My ambivalence wasn’t towards B, or towards our commitment. It was entirely to do with marriage. I never dreamed of weddings. I never wanted to be married. I didn’t think that it was necessary. I still don’t. That moment of commitment — and all the succeeding moments in which we’ve chosen to be together — are enough for me. Still, we always said we’d actually do it …