at home with ann

Just a Stream of Thoughts

Posted on: 30 November 2009

Yesterday I was at a beautiful wedding – not large by Jewish standards – around 170 guests.   I used to live across the road from these friends and knew the bride 32 of her 33 years.   I didn’t know at the time who lived in the house opposite because I used to work in the City, leave home early, get home then collapse in a heap.  However, my neighbour obviously knew my movements, because as soon as I stopped working to have my first baby, there was a knock on the door and that was the start of a new friendship and the start of becoming part of a community and an amazing circle of friends.    Being so close in every possible way, we obviously got to know each other’s extended families, so I knew all the Hull side that came down to London and the American branch too — it was lovely to reunite and catch up with so many people on such a joyous occasion.   Sadly I had to go up to Hull a couple of times recently as my friend lost first her brother and then a few weeks later her father also died – so to be celebrating  a simcha  together was especially beautiful, one that the Rabbi said in shul on Shabbat was long time coming – and no one took offense.   Good for the bride – she waited until it felt right and her new husband is a truly wonderful guy – long may they be blessed .

The chupah took place in a beautiful West End synagogue; the ladies and men seated separately.   Everyone is aware of my single status so a good friend jokingly remarked, “Look at that lot over there,” referring of course to the men, “which one would you take home?”   The truth is that the men across the aisle while most certainly losing their youthful glow (and their hair) and most now in retirement mode were great guys.    I knew them as good and honest and respectable, decent people, all I’m delighted to add still happily married to their long term spouses.    I just smiled, but the thought did cross my mind that I didn’t think any one of them would actually want to take me home.

I did have a wonderful time; the bride was  s-t-u-n-n-i-n-g… she is very very tall and very very slim and she wore a gown I had never seen the likes of before and I don’t think I could do it justice trying to describe it, but when I told her that I thought it was very Carrie, of SATC fame, she said that was the best possible compliment.    As I said, I did have a wonderful time, but!!!!   I don’t brood on it, but something was definitely missing.   The bride and groom were not so young, in fact someone told me the groom was about 38 and it made me think back because at that age we were celebrating No.1 son’s  Bar Mitzvah.   And then it really hit me; this was my old crowd, my good friends.  We’d shared simachot and sad times and children and grandchildren and the ups and downs of life together for over thirty years, yet one was missing and he should have been there; we should have been there together, dancing like we all had done together twenty years earlier, still the same, but now  just a little worn in the joints.    

So, I look around at all my friends and wonder.   Can I leave you now?   Is it time to up sticks and move away from them?   I am blessed to be part of a lovely community, to walk into synagogue and not feel a stranger, to know I have such a wide circle of friends locally.  Yet — I don’t live near a single member of my family.   I moved to this area where my husband and his family lived when we  got married 34 years ago.  My mother, my brother, my aunts, uncles, cousins and now my son and daughter all live in North London.  

The days of spending afternoons with friends and children are long gone; the days of entertaining each other, making dates ahead of time so we could get babysitters are long gone.   Some are retired and globetrot, many owning second homes abroad.  Some are grandparents and Saturday night is likely spent babysitting.    On days off, ‘ladies who lunched’ has now become ‘retired couples who lunch’ – which is all lovely, but where does that leave me?   Oh, I’m not moaning, just noting that the whole dynamic has changed.   I hardly see them any more.  Sure we still talk, but you can chat to anyone, anywhere at the end of a phone.   

Apparently Jamie who, bless ‘im, is an open book, told a friend of mine he had seen a house he liked.   She told me this across the dinner table last night.    Jamie sees all my friends.    He commutes back to Chigwell to work and near his office are hairdressers and beauty salons that they frequent, so he sees ’em all and they all love him —- he’s such a shmoozer.    When I mentioned that maybe I’d buy his apartment there was a stunned silence around the table.  Another friend asked me to repeat myself and then the first friend said, “What about book club?”    Well that was exactly why I had formed it – for selfish reasons.   As I just commented, I wasn’t seeing anyone, but I wasn’t losing friendships, everyone’s lives are so full and different now.   This way I was seeing around 12 girlfriends every month, every one of them avid readers.    I would never give up my baby, my book club –  I’d still come back every month and see the girls, which is moreorless as much as I see them now…  and at engagements and weddings and funerals.

So now I’m off to Jamie’s neck of the woods to take a look at the run-down house he wants to buy and renovate and take a closer look at his place which is literally down the same road.   Maybe it really is time to move on, as they say!   But don’t tell mother – I haven’t told her yet – much easier for her health and mine to wait until it is a fait accompli.





12 Responses to "Just a Stream of Thoughts"

People out here go thru this same quandry when they decide to leave their homes & long time friends in the north and live in Florida or Arizona where it’s hot year round. How far away would you be moving from your present location? Is it a long drive? You could still do book club of course. And you are never really that far away from anyone as long as you have access to the internet.

jojo – as val said it’s not that far – about a 35 minute drive – sad aren’t i????

JoJo, it’s just another part of London, bless her, she won’t be far away at all!

Go for it, Ann! You’ve obviously thought about it long and hard and it’s what you really want to do.

val – and then i come back to my house and still wonder what to do!

A new start could be good! 🙂

akelamalu – it could be good and it’s not exactly the end of the world

How wonderful to have those long-time friendships and so much history together. Would be difficult to leave, yet you wouldn’t be very far away, and it seems it is time to make the move near family.

You and I are both on the verge of starting new chapters in life. I’ve been in this area 21 years due to DH and his family, and
now… We could share more by email.

Congratulations and Best Wishes to the new couple!

kila – i hear you – i understand you – and i’d be happy to share

I think you are very lucky, to be in a position to perceive the gradual shift in times..

Ummm.. I know this is being really abrupt, but I’ve always found Jewish ceremonies really intriguing, and rich in tradition! How exciting it must be for you to be a part of the community.. 🙂

Oh, and wish you luck with the home-hopping.. may you find something that appeals to you!

ah dark lord – perceiving the shift in times comes with being an old wrinkly 😉

with all traditions and ceremonies it’s what they represent that makes them all the more interesting and thanks for the good wishes on the house hunting –

Its kinda sad to leave all the memories and such behind, though Ann. I myself, can not relate, as I have never lived anywhere longer than two years, but I have secretly craved exactly what you mention here….not being the stranger and having such a close and emotional connection to familiar souls.

BUT I think its wonderful of you to change your life this way. I’m sure it’ll be wonderful!
It is really exciting!! 🙂
Its true about the dynamic changing too.
I find myself constantly seeming to be the only one remaining as others’ lives change and add new people to it…while I stay the same.

Good for you, babe! You are going to love it, I’m sure!!

axe, moving away is scary and exciting – i mean i have moved before, but only a mile or so – today i spent the whole day with likeminded members of my community and i knew that even i’d always come back for days such as today’s – i shall post more about it, but it will probably be a bore for a rock chick like you – it’s to do with spirituality 🙂

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November 2009
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