Relationships are always important to me. Never more so than now, having been through such a dark time, where I’ve so needed the support of my friends and family. And I have never leaned so heavily on my husband as I do now. He is a rock and such strength. What on earth did I do to deserve one such as him?
I’ve been reflecting on my history of relationships, and the journey that brought me to my husband. We have been married for nearly 27 years, and we’ve always enjoyed interesting, challenging and hugely fun times together. We laugh and we cry together, and we love each other’s company.
Our giddy newly-wed years soon morphed into reality, as they always do. Suddenly there was bad breath, the five o’clock shadow, mussy hair, grumpy moods and dramatic sulks and door-slamming. And that’s only me. But we came through all of that and began, as M Scott Peck describes it in The Road Less Travelled, “the real work of love”.
When I was about 10, at home in Zambia on holiday from boarding school in Zimbabwe, we went to a friend’s birthday party. I can still imitate my friend’s mother’s laugh – ask me, and I’ll show you! We played games and we swam and it was loads of fun. However, a boy kept following me around and commenting on everything I did.
I dived into the swimming pool and he said, “Wow, what style!” I hope his chat-up lines have improved since then. (At least he didn’t ask me if my dad was a thief. Why? “Because he must have stolen the stars and put them in your eyes.”)
Anyway, he just didn’t leave me alone. He hung on my every word – which wouldn’t have been many in those days – and he watched me and commented on everything I did. I’d never had such attention from anyone before. I quite liked it and I quite hated it. I was 10.
I don’t remember giving him my phone number, but he called me a few days later and asked if I could meet him in “town”. Dusty Mufulira didn’t have a hectically vibey CBD, so I wasn’t quite sure what he had in mind. And I was painfully shy. I said no.
He called back and asked if he and his friend could come and visit me at my house. I said yes and went into panic mode. Half an hour later, the two boys arrived at our gate, on their bicycles. I did what any 10-year old girl would do: I ran and hid under my bed.
My sister welcomed them at the gate and did what any older sister would do in such a situation: she told them I was hiding under my bed.
Not only did she tell them that, but she brought them into the bedroom, pretending not to notice me cowering under my bed. They spoke as if I wasn’t there, and my suitor told my sister – in a stage whisper – that it was a pity I wasn’t there, as he had some biltong* for me. They then left the room.
I loved biltong. And I was 10. So I ran out from my hiding place and went to find them in the lounge. I was so. disappointed to discover I had fallen for his decoy: he had no biltong.
Tempted as I was, I didn’t retreat to the safety of the floor under my bed, but stayed with them and began, kind of, to enjoy the overwhelming attention of a boy. And we did what youngsters of that age always did: we drew pictures and played Monopoly.
I think I saw him a few times more those holidays, and we maintained a short relationship-by-correspondence for a while when we went back to our respective boarding schools. After while there were months of silence, and I discovered he had moved his attentions elsewhere. I was unphased. His friend, however, continued to write to me and send me drawings for some time thereafter.
I was at an all-girls boarding school. When it came the time for our leavers’ dance at the end of my junior school career, the boys from our brother school (an all-boys boarding school nearby) were bussed in to keep us company. I can remember standing against the wall, all knock-kneed and awkward in my first long dress, waiting for – yet dreading – some boy to come and ask me to dance. Ballroom Blitz, Tie a Yellow Ribbon, You’re So Vain, Cum on Feel the Noize, Crocodile Rock and Shambala all blasted from the DJ’s turntable. I danced with a pimply-faced adolescent boy in Oxford bags, but I’ve no doubt our teachers watched and laughed at the gangly and self-conscious antics in the school hall that night.
And then I began my high school years. I have memories of cameo moments with boys: my first kiss (YUCK!); many school dances with boys I was glad to be there with, other boys I wasn’t so glad to be with but they had cool friends; leaving a school dance with a boy whose VW beetle wouldn’t start and I had to push start it in my long dress and everything; a partner at another school dance opening a bottle of champagne in my general direction and soaking the front of my dress.
I had boyfriends who hooted for me at my front gate, boys who drove past my house at midnight and hooted (prompting my Dad to ban them from our house) and boys who would call me from the security fence phone at their boarding school and speak to me for hours.
All of those brief, embarrassing and heart-breaking relationships have prepared me, I guess, for the best. I am married to the kindest, most wonderful man in the world and I’m blessed out of my socks.
Sunshine signing off for today.
*Biltong is dried, spiced meat. Kind of like beef jerky, but South African. And better 🙂
44 thoughts on “Boys and Girls Come Out to Play”
I’m left wondering which school it was, Johannesburg?
I did all of my schooling in Zimbabwe, apart from the first four years in Zambia. I was at boarding school for three years in Harare, and then a day scholar at high school in Bulawayo.
Ah, thanks 🙂
Sunshine, your man sounds absolutely wonderful, you deserve each other.
What a lovely thing to say, Sharon. Thank you. And you’re right – he is. xx
Your stories keep reminding me of times I had forgotten. And sometimes why I had forgotten them!
True, Lisa – there is a lot I don’t write about here for that reason! Funny times, our youth, hey? xx
I remember late teens, bugging dad for a car of my own. He did not understand that you needed a car to “date” In father’s eyes the reason you had a car was to go back and forth to WORK(apparently the only human activity for which he had any respect). “How can I take girls out without a car?” He explained that mother and he often walked or took the bus or subway to events. That was reasonable but in Miami, Florida, USA there are no subways or trains. This county(nearly the size of Russia, it seems) has 14 buses for 5 million people and to walk anywhere would mean a Marco Polo like trek with caravan and provisions for a year. “You don’t need a car if she likes you and you can still find entertaining things to do.” was his mantra. “But how can I get her to like me or even know me if we can’t go anywhere together? ” I never got the car. And did not get married until I was almost 30.
Ah, Carl, sorry you never got the car. Parents don’t understand, do they? At least you got the girl, though, even though it was later than you hoped.
I love the hiding under the bed part and your sister bringing them in to see you under the bed. Oh the awkward years of boy meets girl and girl meets boy…I don’t need to go back there again, ever.
SO awkward, Jeanne, and like you, I’m so glad I don’t have to go there again! Glad you enjoyed this xx
“Suddenly there was bad breath, the five o’clock shadow, mussy hair, grumpy moods and dramatic sulks and door-slamming. And that’s only me.” Best. Line. Ever!
I’m sure Mr. Sunshine is just as happy to have you, five o’clock shadow and all!
I’m glad you enjoyed that line, Wendy! I couldn’t resist it. Thanks for your lovely comment xx
What a sweet post, Sunshine.
Thank you, Todd Pack.
What a beautiful trip down Memory Lane and what a beautiful tribute to your husband. He is a lucky man, indeed.
Thank you, Renee. I think I am the lucky one, but big hugs to you for saying that! xx
Lovely post, Sunshine: it is good to remind ourselves that all those bittersweet rehearsals were preparation for the main show.
Thanks, Kate. Very true – it’ll all be all right on the night, hey? Bittersweet indeed xx
Lovely Sunshine! I am so happy you are thankful for what you have 🙂
Thanks, ET! xx
What a sweet and touching story. May you and your husband enjoy many more years and laughter together. Hugs, Diane
Thank you so much, Diane. Glad you enjoyed the post too! xx
Ah, what a lovely post. You are blessed and so is your husband–to be with a woman who recognizes her blessings and shares them with the world! Such am important reminder of what matters–the relationship above all–not only special, but indeed sacred!
Hugs from Haiti,
Thank you, Kathy – what a lovely thing to say xx
So nice. Especially the last sentence. :’)
Thanks, Dievid. Glad you liked the bit about the biltong! It’s pretty good stuff 🙂
What a great post. I felt like I was at your house when you were hiding under the bed. You told this so well. I have to say you should thank your sister for bringing them into your room because she started you off on having to learn how to communicate with boys!
Love the part about pushing the car in your long dress. Once my date got his car stuck on a flooded road and we had to climb out the windows when the whole car starting filling up with water. And my first thought was about the nice dress pants I had worn for the date! (not about his car)
You and your husband are truly blessed.
Thank you – glad you enjoyed the post! My sister is a darling … I guess she did move me on from communicating just with my big brothers! True.
Oh, if we had been blogging on those date nights – the stories we could tell! Sorry about your dress pants, know how you feel xx
You wont believe it- but whiel reading the story i thought that you were going to say that teh friend you remined in contact with, ended up being your husband. Haha. What a drama queen i am?
It is awesome that you have found everything you ever needed! And i am sure it hasnt been ALL easy. I hope he reads your post and realises how truly special he is. We often take each other for granted!
Have an awesome day sunshine.
You, a drama queen? Nah. Never! 🙂
Yes, you’re right – anything worthwhile is never easy, and that certainly includes a great marriage. Have you read A Road Less Travelled?
Awesome day to you, bokkie xx
Sweet memories! They’re like special presents you can pull out as a gift to yourself every now and then.
And so sorry to hear about your job Sunshine. I’ll be sending you good vibes from Brooklyn that you’ll find a new (and even better one) soon!
Good memories can be like that, can’t they? Thanks for your wishes, jacquelin – those sound like just perfect vibes. Thank you xx
Wow – what a wonderful nostalgic peek into your earlier days. I almost felt I was hiding under the bed with you — I could feel the clammy hands (well, mine would have been). Ten years old was a rough time. (shudders) As to husbands – I’ve been with mine almost 28 years now and the only complaint I have is it has gone by so fast I feel I’m spinning…I want to go back and resavor some of the more special moments again. You’ve set me to remembering – thanks for that. D’you know I have two huge tins filled to the brim with every card and every note or love letter he’s sent me? I’m such a romantic (and so is he…sigh) Yes, m’dear you and I are very blessed to have such adoring devoted spouses. xo
Yes, my hands were pretty clammy too – and it’s not so comfortable under the bed! hahahaha.
So glad this got you thinking about special memories – glad you are blessed too. And with your tin filled “to the broom” (check out my previous post – “It’s Only Words”), I can see that you are both hopeless romantics. Love it. xx
I can’t believe you hid under the bed. *snicker*
This was a lovely tribute to a happy marriage.
Come on, I was ten! Ok, it wasn’t such a cool thing to do. 🙂
Thanks so much xx
It all leads up to something eventually, doesn’t it? You only get it right once.
Wish I’d thought of that biltong line.
True, oma, and thank goodness! I don’t think I’d fall for the biltong line today … and besides I’d choose a better hiding place. Like behind the curtain. Oh dear, now I’ll have to think of another one.
I love it, Sunshine. What a remarkable post. Looking like Lady Di has it’s advantages.
I kind of want to high five your 10 year old friend for the biltong thing, because that’s excellent.
Here’s to many more happy years for you and Mr. Sunshine.
Thank you so much, Maura! The biltong thing is embarrassing and hilarious – how shallow was I? Thanks for the kind wishes xx
What a nice post, especially the ending. We always say, “You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.”
Thank goodness it’s that way round! xx