When G and I eventually procreate, our children will have an exotic crowd of grandparent-type people. Both sets of parents are divorced, and some of them have paired off again. The latest addition to our future children’s collection of “olds” is a lovely lady who G’s dad married on Saturday. She’s flamboyant, warm and- always a bonus in my book- South African. I cannot get enough of the accent: “it’s our widding day, let’s cilibrate!”. They met a mere seven months ago, and she has steamed through his life and his minimalist house in a whirlwind of colour, bringing laughter and South African paintings and new experiences (banana to accompany curry! It blew my mind).
The wedding was low-key and small, but very happy. We were in and out of the town hall in a flash, a cluster of six or so people. We ate breakfast at Cafe Rouge (my calls for buck’s fizz were sadly pooh-poohed in favour of orange juice); then went back to the happy couple’s house, where we popped corks and party poppers, and played the rizla game, in which you have to guess the name of the celebrity written on the bit of paper stuck to your head. It’s sort of like 20 Questions. The memory of my 28-year-old, white/Jewish, British boyfriend saying matter-of-factly “So, I’m a black American woman aged over 50, and I’m alive”, will stay with me for a while.
Then I came down from all that sugar and excitement and champagne…
Check the comedy twee slippers! I wish they were mine but sadly I can’t lay claim to those beauties- I borrowed them from my stepmother-in-law(?)
On Saturday night we lolled on the sofa and watched videos on Youtube, and on Sunday hopped from rock to rock along a gorge in the Peak District.
It struck me this weekend, the way that families don’t just grow in a downwards direction, with the birth of new members. They also grow sideways, with surprising and twisty new branches springing out. G now has a step mum and two new step-sisters. We met one of his new step-sibs at the wedding. She’s a lovely, feisty, skinny-jeaned little seventeen year old, and she slotted right in with G and his (actual) sister as if they’d always been related. The hugs shared between everyone at the end of the weekend were genuine and affectionate. Meanwhile, in another gloriously tangled web of family and friendship, my sister is now best friends with (wait for it) my boyfriend’s cousin’s best mate’s sister. I feel like the branches of my “family” tree are spreading more like a climbing plant, in all directions and across the country, each branch weighed down with blooms.
This is comforting, when sometimes it can seem as though families only shrink, as we lose beloved members. Nothing will ever replace those who we’ve lost, and nothing is family like your core peeps (my siblings, parents and close rellies). But I relish this branching out of my idea of “family” too.
Here’s to new shoots.