Thursday, January 20

My Summer of Love: ‘Four Weddings and a Surprisingly Successful Summer Adventure’ | Relations


SUBWAYMost transatlantic romances are, by necessity, brief: a chance encounter, an expensive visit each, followed by an eventual admission of defeat. But this one, which began in the winter of 1990 while I was living in New York, was not quite over. After that second expensive visit, I booked another flight to London for the beginning of June. It seemed unlikely that the magazine where I worked would give me the whole summer off for love, so I quit.

I had just turned 27 and I thought it might be my last chance to do something wildly irresponsible, ignore the consequences, take a long romantic vacation, with lots of travel, sex and alcohol, before going home to start paying for my choices. . He hoped the relationship would leak at some point; My new English girlfriend had made it pretty clear that a big part of my appeal was my expiration date.

What I was not expecting was attending many weddings. They took me to one straight from the airport, and I had been to three when June ended. It’s hard to describe how strange this was: before that year, not only had she never been to an English wedding, she hadn’t even been to a contemporary’s wedding. I didn’t know anyone my age who was married. But this seemed to be the summer that all of my new girlfriend’s partners decided to get married.

He really couldn’t believe that someone in their twenties would willingly undergo such a test in front of all their friends, even their parents, but they all seemed used to it, like they had already seen this. show a lot of times. Then everyone, including me, got drunk and everything seemed fine. But I couldn’t help but think: two of these people are going to wake up not only hungover, but married.

It might have been embarrassing to sit there with her, listening to speeches about people embarking on a life of commitment, but I learned that most English weddings put you at different tables. Usually I would sit behind a small card with a “+1” written on it, next to the vicar, the bride’s babysitter, or the groom’s childhood neighbors. At one point, I found myself sitting next to a pug. I imagined that, years later, these people would look at their wedding photos and think: who is the guy with the dog?

Tim dowling
A young Tim Dowling. Image provided by Tim Dowling

I don’t want it to seem like that’s all we did. We also spent two non-consecutive weeks in Cornwall and another in France. And we went to the pub a lot. I installed a ceramic tile floor in the kitchen of his new flat, thus subtracting around £ 500 from its eventual resale value. We also argued a lot, which I attribute to the fact that it was a bit underfoot. I am not an adventurous person and yet I had accidentally embarked on an adventure, living in a foreign country, routinely attending strangers’ weddings in inappropriate shoes. I was at sea most of the time. I accidentally made people laugh and then spent the rest of the day wondering what I had said wrong. A boyfriend like me could get on your nerves.

Once, we had an argument that ended when I stormed off the floor and closed the door behind me. It wasn’t until I hit the street that I realized I had no keys, no money, and no friends. After a few minutes of standing in the rain, I rang the bell and asked to be let in. “Sorry,” he said. “Who is this please?”

Like all summer romances, this one came to its natural conclusion, at the end of November. I watched the end of Margaret Thatcher’s reign from a bar at Gatwick Airport as I waited for my flight home, alone and helpless.

However, as a summer adventure, it was difficult to undo: I returned in March because, curiously, I had been invited to a wedding. I stayed all the following summer and went to more weddings. When I returned the following summer, it was for my own wedding.

“Don’t worry,” he said the day we agreed to get married. “We can always get divorced.” And 28 years later, we still can.


www.theguardian.com

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