‘Danger to life’ it said on the news, but a small warning like that was not going to get in the way of our precious night away. Oh no, it would take more than a trifling red weather alert to scupper our romantic getaway.
As the 122mph winds raged, the boyfriend navigated his way round the fallen trees littering the road and we headed east. Right into the eye of the storm. Sensible it was not.
The previous week had been consumed with logistical planning – kids’ meals plotted, work appointments rescheduled, doggy daycare delegated – all to make 24 hours of bliss possible. We set off on the journey late (my bad) and in order to make up time I propelled the startled pooch into my friend’s arms from a moving car.
It was only when we finally arrived at the hotel it dawned on me that the whole thing felt like a metaphor for our relationship.
It might have been the four coffees I’d necked in excitement, but I suddenly had a lightbulb moment of clarity and realised we were both willing to overcome obstacles to get to a good place.
And it felt great. Because it is easy to be ‘all in’ for the good times – for the cocktails and the dinners and the coffees in bed. But what about when life throws you lemons? Or, in this case, branches, road signs and wheelie bins.
There have been plenty of potentially derailing moments for us. Regular readers will recall that I got summoned home by a sick child during my first ever sleepover at his place. We have had to contend with illness, stress, work, tax returns…
In a marriage you have made the commitment to weather these storms. Plus you’ve got all the responsibilities gluing you together – the family, the house and the Netflix account.
But in a new relationship it is optional.
You can still choose to stick or twist. Turns out I’m a sticker, as is the boyfriend.
In my experience of midlife dating I’ve met other types. The ones who want everything to be perfect and get their huff in a puff if things don’t go to plan. They were the same ones who wanted me to be permanently available with no reality allowed to prick the romance bubble.
But I am someone with baggage.
Quite possibly more than is reasonable for anyone’s personal allowance: I have a demanding career, two children for whom I do the lion’s share of the care, an anxiously attached dog and a geriatric guinea pig. Not to mention my mother in the annexe who requires me to fetch her bananas from the boot of the car (perfect ambient temperature apparently).
And I wouldn’t change any of that. In fact, I’m proud of it. But I concede that I’m not an easy proposition.
I remember seeing one guy’s list of requirements on his dating profile: ‘No kids’, ‘an easy nine-to-five job that means they can slot easily into my plans’ and ‘no significant exes’.
Well that’s not me. I have sussed that relationship success is in part about how much effort I, and they, are prepared to put in when the going gets tough.
Anyway we made it into the hotel and the power promptly went off. We took a dip in the lukewarm Jacuzzi then went, guided by emergency lights, to our hotel room and lay on the crisp white sheets.
Shortly after, the phone rang and we were summarily evacuated.
So instead of Michelin-starred food and fancy cocktails, we drove all the way home again and had Turkish takeaway and TV.
And we loved it. We had weathered the storm.
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