Ah Valentine’s Day. The memories. Three years ago, in the throws of new courtship with my now-husband, we drew all over each other’s bodies. An impromptu scrawling of hearts and cute messages over our (I now realise) toned torsos and thighs. There was no reason for it; no logic save for the heady fuzz of falling in love, where nothing is off-limits and everything is possible. I can’t remember what we did next, but it probably involved meandering down to the local pub hand-in-hand for a Guinness or three. Bliss.
In the interim we have married and had a son, now seven months old and I look like the ‘before’ picture on a woman’s magazine – before she completed a body-transforming New Year’s detox. Motherhood has softened my body and – even I cringe at the corniness – my heart. As a showbiz reporter a few years back, I was paid to party, to gatecrash celebrity shindigs all over the world. My biggest concern then was how to handle the next day’s hangover. I kept my nail varnish in a new, unused oven.
Now – like my mother and millions more – I have a drawer full of greetings cards for all occasions from birthdays to bar mitzvahs, my idea of a big night is making it past 9pm to watch Sherlock without falling asleep on the sofa and my kitchen is a whirlwind of goodness in homemade baby puree form. It’s easy to reminisce about the good old days, to crave the carefree spontaneity of a woman with nobody depending on her. But the truth, with rose-tinted specs removed, is often different.
Some of it was awesome but when the mental torture of a hangover descended, I would crave a life much simpler – of human contact snuggled on a sofa with someone I love. Having played that cookie game of dating until my early thirties, the natural optimist in me began to question pearls of wisdom such as ‘you’ll just ‘know’ when you meet him’ – or that ‘most people have already met the person they will marry’. Then something happened. At a music festival in London, I bumped into a male friend who was on a stag do. We went to a friend’s party afterwards and he asked me to be his girlfriend.
That man was the first boy I kissed aged 13, who I’d known since starting school together in Dundee aged five. We may have known each other almost all our lives, keeping in touch and meeting with mutual pals once or twice a year, but not until that moment did it – and he – make perfect sense. In one fell swoop, all those pearls were proved right – as well as the one that goes ‘there’s nothing stranger than life.’
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