Summer Love-In: Any Other Summer, Part III

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

And, finally, Clare. Clare, who has been the constant voice behind Any Other Wedding, who has supported me on my little blogging adventure from (almost) the very beginning, and who herself is about to embark upon the biggest and scariest adventure of all.

When Anna sent me their trio of posts, she warned me that there would be, "No ponies, no frolicking, no “the first summer I got sunburn”. [The posts] are about families and firsts and learning and growing up." The warm, sunny, summery posts they set out to write had, in the writing, become something quite different. But shitty things don't always happen on rainy, miserable days. Sometimes they happen on bright, shining summer days when the rest of the world is skipping around without a care in the world, and you walk among them with your heart quietly breaking, wondering how the sun can still be shining when you are in darkness.

Summer isn't always about sunshine. (Believe me, I'm Scottish. I know.) Thank you Aisling, Anna and Clare for sharing your stories and showing us that, from darkness, can come light.

And with that, I give you Clare:

Image by Lucy Stendall Photography

I slam the door and walk out into the sunshine, ignorant of the warmth of the sun, yet relishing the blinding light as for a moment it distracts me from what has just happened. Ignoring the three people who up until now have meant the most to me, I walk into the lane and keep walking, needing to put distance between myself and the tumbling waterfall of emotions that the family house is holding. Later I will regret this moment, regret walking out with little thought for the people that I leave behind, but for now, all I can do is use physical distance as a substitute for the mental distance that I need. 

We have lived in this house for nearly twelve years, so this is not the first time I have slammed this door and walked out. Yet this single action, this act, is a defining moment in my life. It is the moment when my childhood abruptly ends, and I am sent head-long into adulthood, whether I like it or not. 

I am 17, it is the first day of the school holidays, and this summer I will learn many things. 

I will learn that the steady, solid, middle-class family life that I believed was normal was not unshakeable as I thought. 

I will learn that parents can disappoint you on a scale previously unthinkable, yet it is possible to rekindle the love that you feel for them, once you understand that they are only human, like you. 

I will learn that I am not infallible. That I too will make mistakes. 

In a clumsy teenage effort at escapism, I will go on my first girly holiday with my best friend. Ignorant, or at least not consciously aware, of the similarities between my behaviour and that of my father’s, and focusing merely on the transition from girl to woman, I will fall headlong into love with a man, discarding the boy who I had been dating since the winter, with little more than a passing thought for his feelings. 

Only later will I understand that this was a reaction to the moment that had led to me slamming the door on my family home. That in fact, the knowledge that I gain from this situation, and the hurt that I cause, will help me come to understand my father’s feelings and accept the changing dynamic in my family. 

The summer that my dad told us over breakfast one day, with the light bouncing off the jug of orange juice, and the smell of fresh coffee in the air, that he was leaving us to live with another woman, helped mould me into the woman I am now, and who my husband married. I learnt about love. About falling in love, and falling out of love, and what love means to different people. And how love can change and morph, just like people, to fit our constantly altering perspectives. And forgiveness. Mostly I learnt about forgiveness.

4 boats moored

  1. I think anyone can move on from bad things, but learning from them, and letting them shape your life in a good way takes a stronger person. Thank you for sharing this with us Claire x

  2. Every time I read this I think of how strong you are, and that maybe, I will one day be like you.

  3. Aisling, Anna and Clare - wonderful posts, but more importantly wonderful thoughts from wonderful women. Thank you.

  4. That's my girl. As previously stated, the most courageous woman I know.

    You're an inspiration, Mrs x


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