Today Alfie and I have been married for 17 years. We met twenty years ago in what seems another age but clicked straight away and have been best friends ever since. I think that’s our strength, that we actually like each other. We talk about everything and still make each other laugh. Through the ups and downs of life that we all experience, the greatest gift Alfie has given me is allowing me to be myself. Thanks for that, hon, I love it more than a diamond ring, but if you ever feel so inclined….
There was an apricot tree in our garden when I was a kid. I never saw an apricot until I came to Australia and I thought it was a wondrous thing. The tree was resplendent with velvet-covered egg yolks. In high summer the scent filled the garden so all you had to do was stick out your tongue to taste the sweetness.
Parrots came. Finches, honeyeaters, chuckled, searching for fallen fruit. Magpies swooped, scaring the little ones. I watched from the verandah, hoping the birds would never leave, wishing the tree would bear fruit all year long.
The birds ate until the grass turned golden like King Midas had walked the length of it. Then they flew away. Two remained, walking and eating together, so close I could have sworn their wings were linked. Little galahs, pink and grey feathers, soft as suede, chubby feet walking in time, looking like they each meant something to the other. I was only 12 but I realised they were in love. The thought made me warm inside.
Love is described in so many ways. It makes the world go around. It’s a many-splendoured thing. It means never having to say you’re sorry. (Actually, I think that’s divorce.) It’s all around us, it’s a drug, a battlefield, and when it goes wrong, it tears us apart.
There is much about love that is unfathomable. My friend, Mel, has been married to the greatest guy for over ten years but still loves him less than her former fiance who died a week before their wedding day. Another friend stays with her philandering husband because she ‘loves him’ and can’t bear to give him up. So she pretends when she is home alone that he is working late. My own sister thinks love is worth being pushed around for, that it’s a small price to pay for ‘real love.’
There is much about love that not even the glory of a peach-coloured sunset can compare to. The secret smiles, finishing each other’s sentences, harmony, trust, the comfort of being in synch, being at peace in your own life. In its many guises, love continues to enchant us. Today I say : “Hooray For Love,” for when it’s good, it is a whispered voice standing at your shoulder, saying no matter what, everything will be alright. It fills your hands with hope, like summer shells gathered at the beach whose colours never fade.