:’-( I’m sorry peeps, another Friday without story post. Instead I would like to share just a little bit more Iain magic.
We were in the car on Wednesday, the 18th of January, picking up our son from high school after helping our daughter queue for university registration. I had asked Iain to drive, because I was exhausted, but Wildest One and I were in the car with him, as well as our oldest daughter R.
On the way home, Iain and I fell into our usual bantering, with our son making some or other slightly off-dry teenage comment. As an answer Iain instructed him very seriously that if you want to keep your girlfriend / wife happy, never stop courting. It was actually very funny hearing this serious marital advice given to a 15-year-old. But I’m glad he did.
It is true too. There are probably not many places in Pretoria that we didn’t explore and “honeymoon” at. We stopped in for coffee at a coffee shop whenever we were out together. There were countless times we took the kids to a family restaurant so they could bounce on the jumping castles while we’d have some glorious conversation. “Get their bounces out” was a standard expression. “Somewhere green” was another; parks in Pretoria beware, here we came. Another such mission was the “poster run” – a very functional event where we would load the kids in the car on a Saturday or Sunday and drive from shopping mall to mall, putting up our lesson posters all over town. (These runs resulted in some good growth of the studio, both sides of it.) And then there were “dream drives”.
These consisted of all of us cruising slowly through the richest parts of town goggling at the beautiful mansions and gardens, the way you’d go and view a castle in Scotland when on holiday. Rich people and their architects have incredible imagination where it comes to beautiful homes and gardens.
“Federi,” said Paean worriedly, “how long is twenty years?”
The Romany shook his head.
“Blink of an eye,” he said. “Try living from day to day without much purpose. Time just snaps by. Sometimes feels like forever. Sometimes feels like a nanosecond.”
She thought of him sitting in the storage bay between his boxes, making woodcarvings.
“Anyway,” added the Tzigan, “I measure my life in events, not years.”
Events? On the Solar Wind?
“So when was the last great event?” asked Paean, curious.
“Thirtieth March, twenty-one sixteen,” said Federi, glancing out through the porthole with a dreamy smile. “Three fugitive musicians hired for the Solar Wind in Dublin.”
Paean grinned. Aw, right!
“Actually, no,” Federi corrected himself, catching her eye. “Seventh May twenty-one sixteen. Win a bottle of dirt-cheap rum off Ronan Donegal. For a bet that’s right up my alley!”
Oh. Seems to be a little story post after all.
That snippet is from “The Assassin”, and I remember distinctly when I wrote it and read it back to Iain. He actually said at the same moment as I read it to him: “Events? On the Solar Wind?”
Twenty years did snap by in the blink of an eye. But when I think back on them, the 26 years that ended this year on the 19th of January, they are jam-packed with sunshiny moments, from the night I met him right to the last evening when he still sang loudly with a friend, paraphrasing Sting: “That’s not the shape of my liver!”
We did not get all our dreams. That beach teahouse that we wanted to run, with an underground pub underneath it? Stayed in dreams. The trip around the world, visiting (by boat) all the places the Solar Wind sailed? It happened in our hearts. My writing my family to financial freedom? Well, my writing brought us closer than ever and it was endless fun for all involved, including those amazing launches (he mostly organized). But you know what? On some level we got all our dreams, because we had them together.
We should have grown old together. That is the part that pains me endlessly. We should have had at least another 20 or 30 such years, but hey – the years we did get were filled with gold. Memory gold. Jam-packed.