Ten years or so ago I was invited with my ex to celebrate his boss’s silver wedding anniversary. I wept throughout their rather fabulous party, which was embarrassing for all concerned. This was bang in the middle of a time when my ex was barely speaking to me because he was silently working it all out in his own head before announcing a fait accompli, a trying stage which lasted well over a year in his case. It was the most difficult and lonely time of my life. My reaction to watching other people celebrate a long and happy marriage (graced by financial success and splendid sons who had beautiful girlfriends) did not amuse my then husband. Oh well. At least I found a remote corner of the marquee and sat well away from the light.
At that time his boss and his wife seemed to be a different generation; ludicrously so. We identified more with their only just grown-up sons, and considered the parents to be middle aged. Well, they say that the definition of middle aged is anyone who is 10 years older than you are, so they obviously were middle aged then and I obviously still am not.
Looking back, I suspect that the Boomers’ parents probably celebrated more Silver Weddings than any other generation. Before them, short life expectancies made for short marriages. So far as the Boomers themselves were concerned, more of them got divorced and fewer of them married in the first place. I know of several couples who’ve been together 25 years but didn’t have a wedding to start the clock ticking. Ach, after all this time I don’t suppose it matters. Even so, I find Silver wedding anniversaries moving; increasingly so as I get older and am hitting in to the age where I could be (should have been) celebrating one myself. Another Aphra, in another world, perhaps.
I remember my parents’ Silver wedding anniversary: I’d have been 10, and my siblings in their teens and early 20s. There was a strong sense of duration, of family, of a safe emotional container, of continuity and of the different generations. All this is with hindsight of course – at the time my brother was bouncing off the walls with excitement about my parents celebratory first colour TV.
So for years, in my mind Silver Weddings were one of the things that grown-ups did, which I guess is why I placed my ex’s boss and his wife on the other side of the generational divide just a decade ago. And I’m Boomer enough myself to still have trouble considering myself a grown-up. Now I’m going to be hitting into a spate of Silver Weddings as my peers start celebrating them. Diff’rent strokes. Diff’rent folks. It’s not as if my present life is dull.
I think where all this is leading to is the sense of shocked recognition that 25 years can go in a flash. Where this all came from is another matter entirely. Let me give you a word of advice – if you wake up at three in the morning, don’t make yourself a couple of tea and settle down to writing a blog.