This weekend I went to a 50th wedding anniversary of friends I’ve known my whole life.
The couple celebrating 50 years own the beach house next to ours. I no longer own ours but for the past 50 years we’ve shared summer holidays. In the early days it was my siblings and I, and their children and nieces and nephews. Their family situation was unusual (brother and sister married a sister and brother so everyone was doubly related) and the whole lot would spend summer there. We kids looked forward to our annual reunions.
A strong factor is my decision to attend the 50th was because of this long-ago connection with the wider family. And all but one of the “kids” were there so it was a good opportunity to see where we all had got to in life.
Last time I’d seen most of them was about 15 years ago. At that time the first question out of their mouths to me was “are you married?” This time that question didn’t even come up. Clearly I’ve reached the point where this is no longer an expectation — I’m recognised as a confirmed spinster. This was both interesting and something of a relief.
Having that out of the way meant we could talk about other things. What was so interesting to me was how little our personalities had changed. The kids I had felt closest to as a child I still felt connected to as an adult. The ones I hadn’t felt so close to I could now see why that had been so.
This slightly recoloured my memories of those holidays, but in a good way. Things I remember feeling when around some of the kids no longer felt like failings of mine. Instead, I could see more clearly through adult eyes that some of those feelings of not belonging, not being ‘cool’, were because that’s the kind of person B is, those are the ways she treats people even now, and she is like that because that’s how her mother is.
It seems very late in life for me to be realising things so obvious as this about other people. But it has made me doubly glad I made the trip because getting a chance to let go of childhood pain and reconfirm happy childhood memories is always worth doing.