“Mum, it’s your engagement anniversary!” my eldest announced when she came in from school this afternoon. I hadn’t realised it was my engagement anniversary and it’s not something we (or I suspect anyone) celebrates – though I’m thinking of bring that in, because to be honest February could use all the help it can get.
“So what will you do to celebrate?” she asked.
Good question. I think apart from lunch boxes, homework, and dinner, listening to spellings and little woes, the highlights will include cleaning up spilled olive juice in the fridge and – top of everything – dislodging soggy lint from the tumble drier. I’m not even joking when I say this is the top highlight – the tumble drier is precisely as old as my engagement ring, but just today I discovered that I can use cotton buds to clean the tiny grooves between the metal filter things, and dear God, that is a satisfying experience.
“What were you doing this time 16 years ago?” the kids asked, and though they’ve heard it all before, I told them again.
About the mid-week trip to Breaffy House Hotel in Co. Mayo – because February could use all the help it can get – and the drive towards Westport on a sunny Tuesday morning. About the stop at the lookout point and the view of Clew Bay. About the bouquet of roses he took from the boot of the car, and the moment I started to understand. About the down-on-one-knee and the box with the ring and the Yes. And the champagne (because it was 2003 and we didn’t know about Prosecco yet) and the dinner that night in An Carraig in Castlebar, and the photo we asked the waitress to take, because selfies and smartphones didn’t exist yet. About telling people and wearing the ring and starting the first weird tentative chats about when and where and who.
“You should ask Dad what he’s doing to mark the occasion,” the eldest said then, “to freak him out.” I think I will.
“Can I text him to ask him to bring donuts?” We’ll see. (Universal answer for everything, passed down through generations.)
“Which is better, now or then?” It’s all good, I tell them – different stages, great in different ways.
And I wonder what I’d have thought back then – as we made our plans and told our news and tried to explain to our mutual (it was an office romance) work colleagues that we didn’t get engaged on Valentine’s Day – about what I’d be doing 16 years later. If I’d have been okay with knowing it was lunch boxes and homework and dinner, and listening to spellings and little woes, and giving hugs for the ones words can’t solve, hoping for donuts, all topped off with olive juice and tumble drier lint. I think, on balance, I would.