We fought, as couples under pressure are won to do, before plastering on fake smiles and serving up lasagne and cheesecake for friends; still quietly at war.
The next day we claimed separate zones of the house and avoided each other. As I binge-watched endless crap television shows and scribbled through three pages of a mindful colouring book (ha.), I could hear the faint rumblings of pseudo explosions on the Playstation coming from downstairs.
Some couples regularly spend time apart in their own home, but for us the truth is that a house divided cannot stand. It went on. The next day we forged a delicate truce, ventured on a dog walk scattered with uncomfortable silences and decided to head down to Brighton for... well. We didn’t quite know why, but it seemed far away enough from home that things might be different there.
We arrived ninety minutes later to grey concrete, graffiti and the grave sensation that we’d made a mistake. I could feel my lip curling at some of the sketchier characters walking around, the battered buildings and the smell of chip fat and candy floss. We drove along the promenade, past Brighton Pier with its garish lights and flocks of people infinitely more cheerful than ourselves, and on towards the blackened skeleton that remains of West Pier, stood eerily alone in the water like a risen shipwreck.
The idea of getting out of the car and immersing ourselves in such misery seemed too much to bear. I decided Brighton was a dive and added it to the list of places I never want to visit again. Instead of even attempting to turn the day around, we turned around and proceeded to argue for the entire journey home.
Now that’s something you won’t see on my Instagram.
By the next day, we’d officially put all matters of discontentment to bed. We went about our respective jobs and it was clear that the storm had lifted.
Taking a break from everything in the evening, I sat down to read an old copy of The Simple Things.
The Simple Things is my favourite magazine. Unlike most publications aimed at women, it doesn’t focus on the Kardashians, but the ex-army chap who now makes his own walnut liqueur, or what made a lady named Bonnie Alberts move to Naples. The fashion advice is limited and there are no condescending top tips on how to keep your man happy or how to lose weight in a week.
If you haven’t seen it before, it’s really just a collection of lovely things all bound together in paper and pictures; recipes for peanut butter and jelly cookies, a guide to choosing tropical fish, a brief history of the dressing table, a playlist to go with coffee and a picture of a dog wrapped up in a blanket... It’s hygge in magazine format.
From reading that magazine for half an hour, I was inspired to try my hand at some Scandi-style recipes, plant raspberries and head on a long walk with a flask of tea.
Those are my plans for this weekend.
Some of it is a little beyond my time allowance; I’m having a baby, I can’t be making Sloe Gin or wild swimming in May, but I like the sentiment of taking the time to enjoy, you guessed it, the simple things.
I reflected on the day before.
Sam and I have made our own entertainment for three hours in the A&E waiting room before now, on transatlantic flights and in long queues – Brighton hadn’t been the issue, we had.
Any other day, as bleak as our surroundings may have looked (apologies to anyone from Brighton, but alas, it was a grey weekend in February; Rome in a negligee would have struggled to look beautiful in such conditions), we’d have spent an hour in the penny arcades, skimmed a few stones on the beach and bought sketchy looking cups of a tea and a portion of chips to share in the car on the way home. We’d have taken some daft photos and quietly mocked the people around us. (Appreciate that quietly judging our fellow human beings might make us terrible people, but creating long, convoluted back stories for strangers is how we spend at least 70% of our free time. A busy city is a veritable feast for us.)
We’d have remembered it as rather a nice day, instead of wasting nearly three hours in the car and ending up in even less of a friendly state than when we’d left.
The point of this blog isn’t to unveil the ins and outs of what was really a stupid row. Shit happens and couples argue. What struck me was the clarity the next day, of being, dare I say, mindful. Appreciating little things, taking in your surroundings.
I read an article in The Simple Things the very next day, about a woman who distinctly remembers her routine-bound grandfather once throwing caution to the wind, playing truant and taking the children down to Brighton for the day. She reminisces and romanticises the salty air and the fairground music, the adventure. I could scarcely believe that we’d been to the same place, and that’s when it struck me.
For all my rose-tinted visions of serving up warm Appelkaka (apple cake) or lovingly sowing the seeds for raspberries that I’ll scatter over Pavlova in the summer, sometimes if you’re in a foul mood, whatever you’re doing seems crap. I can usually identify when I’m in a bad mood and actively try to do something about it. I’ve no time for sulking, I’d rather cheer up as soon as possible. At the weekend, neither of us wanted to cheer up. We didn’t have the want to enjoy something small like a crap cup of tea or the feeling of the wind across our faces. And we had a bad day.
I could say it won’t happen again. We’re human beings, of course those days will come along again but for the most part, I’m pro living The Simple Things way of life and appreciating what’s around me.