I’ve started noticing some things lately. These things have been happening for a while. However, I have always felt like an observer, not a part of those things. But now I am, and I see they’ve been creeping up on me, growing on me in tiny increments. I only noticed because of the sweet peas.
I went round to my good friends house for dinner the other night. There were three couples there and he made us a lovely meal. I met him when we were both woking in a pub together and we had lock-ins that regularly lasted until ten the next morning. We would have an hours kip on the sofa upstairs and then open the pub up again at eleven. We were all in our early twenties and I’m sure I couldn’t do it now. For a start, work begins before eleven and you now actually require your faculties to be in working order when you get there.
So I know we’ve all grown up a bit, but I didn’t really notice how much until Helen showed me her sweet peas. She’d planted them all as little seedlings in separate little square pots by the door. I was also growing sweet peas in the garden at home, and they were a little bigger, so I had some sweet pea advice to impart. You know, about how long to keep them inside, about where to position them when they were big enough to go to in the garden, and about what sort of trellis to buy.
Holy shit. There it was. The dreaded plant conversation. The night went on and we talked about jobs, and among other things, about the best grocer to go to on Gloucester Road and how much better it was then buying from Tesco. Cheaper and better quality. We talked about careers and about houses. And we obviously still drank too much wine.
Me and Niall were still the biggest wine drinkers and were the last ones chatting, but the days of pub lock-ins were gone. But we were all in it together. We’d all got to the same point via a shit load of bizarre, ridiculous, unrepeatable and inexplicable nonsense, and we all had the same kind of plans, (with numerous variations of course, but we all had plans, which was new) the same kind of kitchens and we had all started to make the place look nice. That kind of thing had always scared the crap out of me. But it wasn’t as dull, or as scary as I had imagined, because the people were still the same.
It was a weird sort of feeling, a bit like that feeling you get when you’ve all stayed up all night and you sit on the hill in the park in the morning with whatever is left over (invariably warm flat rum and coke in a litre bottle) watching the sun come up while people are on their way to work looking fresh and rested. You watch the workers and are glad you are with your friends, watching but not involved, like some kind of secret.
It’s like you survived something together. And oddly, this feeling was sort of like that. The feeling that you knew a secret. The secret being that we were all just as silly as we ever were, despite talking about mortgages. The feeling that we would all keep the secret for each other. The feeling that one day, we would know when our kids (those of us who decide to have any) had been smoking, drinking or doing one of the many other fun things that they shouldn’t have been doing because we would recognise the signs. And although we would tell them off for it, we would know that we were no better, and that would be a secret too. Now I realised that I wasn’t eighteen anymore, and that despite denying it for the last ten years, real eighteen year olds would see us in a club and think we looked pretty old, and that was fine.
But seriously, the oddest part was that I had anything to say about sweet peas. Who knew? Certainly not me.