If you grew up in the decade before, during, or after, I did, you’ll know this book. Maybe you read it, maybe you didn’t – it was, back then, very much “a book for girls” (what rubbish, but anyway…even ‘the boys’ knew about it) and I have strong, strong memories of the Judy Blumes always being booked out at the school library, and the sheer exhilaration of being the person who manages to scoop it up on library day.
I digress, but not really.
The book title has always stuck with me – ‘Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret’. This post has nothing to do with religion or the contents of that book though, but it does have something to do with my relationship with Judy Blume, and other things other people seem to uphold as quaint and important. I am one of them too – do not get me wrong, Blume was an important reading journey for young me – but there’s a weird reverence around it that I see matched in other things of my life today.
I should attest to the fact, first, that like a tween heirloom, my kid is now reading the Blumes, and I have, in fact, purchased a few for her during our book store browsing days.
As a 36-year-old adult though, I am fully aware today that the wet-tongued excitement over things we all believe we should have our moment in the sun with, still exists.
(Oh, by the way, Hi. Sorry. I kinda skipped writing here for a while. I got busy)
At 36, the things I strap to the Blume-like moments are far bigger than books, but a lot less effective or real. That was the attraction of Blume (although many called her controversial – I mean, she wrote about periods, and sex, and all the things young women are supposed to not talk about – what heresy! Burn the witch! NOT) – she said things, and talked about things, we are all taught to care about, desire and work for, but not necessarily speak of, openly and freely.
It is the same now.
As we plan our wedding, and the questions come thick and fast, and stupidly, I’m left feeling like the girl who is last in the queue for the new Blume that’s arrived in the library. There’s one small difference though – the only reason why I would want it, is because I’ve been taught to want it, or led to believe that everyone wants it and so, therefore, there must be something wrong with me for NOT wanting it.
It started with: talking about flowers. The most goddamn expensive accessory to a wedding and, guess what? THEY DIE THE NEXT DAY. SOMETIMES SOONER.
I’m far more keen on skipping the flower jol and using ribbons (reusable), or popping down to Woolies for some country bunches and a couple of fairy lights (again, reusable).
But, as is the way with all things wedding, I did some investigation anyway (By the way, I still live in NOT A CHANCE ARE WE SPENDING THAT ON FLOWERS land).
The responses to my enquiries ranged from “Ooooh, what are your favourites?” – followed by an exceptional markup in the online-listed price of the bloom I had mentioned; to “Well, you should choose a flower that means something to both of you” (LAWD. WE DON’T EVEN HAVE A SONG YET. NOW YOU WANT ME TO FIND MEANING IN SOMETHING NEITHER OF US WILL ACTUALLY PAY ANY ATTENTION TO) and…my best: “Well, yes, but no expense should be spared when you’re creating the most wonderful day of your life, and we’d be so happy to help you, Kathleen.”
HANG ON. YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW ME. SHUT UP.
What’s to say THIS will be the most wonderful day of our life together? Does it make a difference if I think we’ve already had it? What if I told you we have these days a lot, and that, in fact, just yesterday, when my two people, dogs and assorted dustbunnies were watching Harry Potter, I was utterly enraptured by the way our family just fits together? Do you know how DAMN GOOD that feels? Or what about the time we decided to go for lunch somewhere different and ended up at this insanely expensive restaurant and had an incredible time, giggling, and I was wearing slops, and it felt like we were lampooning the place and – actually – that day is one of the most defining reasons why I love him?
So, why am I even bothering with this? Just as the Blumes have now become the Blooms in my life, I’m realising that…all the things other people deemed so desperately important, actually aren’t, to me. The weirdest thing is that I’m almost expected to be apologetic about this – because it is “very strange” that I absolutely could not give an inch of care about whether or not Bob & Linda will enjoy being seated at the same table as Ted & Teresa (names changed to protect the innocent).
The things that I count as important are the parts we haven’t planned to the second, or decided upon in strung out conversations (you should know, we decided to live together, by choice a few years ago, because I called him at work, and told him my lease was ending. It was, literally, that easy and that plain-speaking. We didn’t choose the wallpaper first).
So, that’s me, right now. Trying to figure out what the Blumes in my life are, and what else is actually lying in the library, waiting to be taken out and read.
For me, the most important book is the one we’re writing together, and not the one that tries to figure out how coordinated his tie needs to be with my shoes. I just don’t care about these Blume Blooms enough to give this any more energy than is required.
The beauty of our life together is not found in some gilted, lacey invitation or the wilted corsage someone tried to sell me over the phone, which cost the same as my kid’s school fees (no, I’m not joking).
It’s in the life we have when he takes the trash out, and I’m in the kitchen wrangling dogs, homework books and cooking dinner. It’s in that moment where I am in a hellfire of a mood and he comes in to ask which ice-cream he can pick up for me while he’s out. And the most magnificent day of our life? It’s the one where I know I can phone him and tell him I wrote this, because I’m pretty damn certain he absolutely hates himself for wanting to marry the hot-headed mess I am on some days. It’s the day where I can lie on our bed and cry with uncertainty over our future, and he steadfastly assures me that we will be more than fine (we were) and it is every single time I look at my diary and realise I share my life with the most brilliant human, who believes in me beyond myself, and in our family, beyond every possibility.
There are no flowers for that.