Chris and I have just celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary (I know, I don’t look old enough). Life looks very different now with two children and a dog, several job and house moves — all the usual life events that take place over twenty years.
When we’d been married less than a year, we were invited to a wedding. We didn’t have much spare cash then, but decided it would be nice to attend as it would provide an opportunity to catch up with some old friends, we hoped would be there. We managed to find a cheap B&B and decided we’d make a nice weekend away of it.
It didn’t quite turn out that way.
The wedding was on a country estate in the middle of nowhere. After struggling to find the venue on a really hot July day, we finally arrived. The ceremony and reception were taking place in the same marqueue. That’s fine except once the ceremony had finished, we were asked to wait outside in the garden, while it was set up for the formal meal. The sun was blazing and there was no shade.
Thus ensued a four hour wait during which we not only realised that we didn’t know a single person (other than the groom), but Chris was hit with a severe bout of hayfever. So much so that he had tears streaming down his face and was sneezing on endless repeat (and yes, managed to snot all down his tie).
Eventually dinner was called and we headed back into the marqueue to find our seats. As we’d already realised, we didn’t know any guests at the wedding. We knew it would be a couple of hours of small talk, so we headed to our seats in trepidation and hope that we’d find some people we’d click with.
Unfortunately, it was the opposite. I was the only female on our table. I don’t have a problem with this as such, but I found myself surrounded by a bunch of college lads.
Now let me backtrack a little. As newly weds, we didn’t have the easiest start. I had been training as a nurse, but had been quite ill in the run up to our wedding and decided that nursing wasn’t for me. I was therefore working in a shop whilst I figured out what I wanted to do with my life. I don’t have a problem with this as a choice for work, but I knew that the people on our table would pass an incorrect judgement on me and the person I am when the inevitable question came “So what do you do?”.
As the loudest person at the table declared “Lets go around the table and introduce ourselves — who are you and what you do?”, I leant across to Chris and whispered, ‘I’m going to play a little game’. When my turn came, I simply said “I’m a musician”. This was perfectly true — the chap concerned just assumed that meant I was a paid full-time working musician. I can honestly say hand on heart, that his reaction to me was completely different to how it would have been if I’d said “I work in a shop”. I also know that as well as having a little chuckle to myself, I gave that response because of the pressure I felt to strive to their standards and expectations, to be accepted against their measure of judgement.
Why? Why did it matter?
I was nineteen then, pretty shy and lacking in confidence. I think, twenty years on, I’d handle the situation differently now. For a start, I hope that I’d care a lot less about other people’s judgement on me. I certainly know what I like and what I don’t like. And I know that given the choice, I’d rather have a slightly jumbled table of food being attacked by a bunch of hungry teenagers, whilst laughing and chatting, than be sat around a formal dining table wondering which cutlery to use. I also know that I’d rather use the home I have to provide a safe shelter for friends and family in need, than to have empty bedrooms that look like a show home.
My experiences of life so far have taught me that when I stop and spend time with people, that’s what counts. I can cook them a posh meal and serve the best wine — I love good food and good wine, but if I don’t join them at the table, I won’t get to know them.
Veins of Life — when you and me, stop and be, pause and breathe: That’s when the veins of life are woven together like a beautiful tapestry, like the woodgrain of our dented and scratched dining table. We’re not made to walk this life on our own, life really happens when we walk it alongside others. Through the storms, the celebrations, the highs and lows. No face paint required, no big show, just you, and me.
You can download or stream ‘Art of Conversation’ on our new E.P. ‘Conversations Around The Family Table’ from your favourite site. Here’s some quick links:
Download on iTunes:
Download on Amazon:
Download on Google Play:
Stream on Spotify:
A creative agency, rooted in family values.
We tell better stories.