Thirty five years

Thirty-five years ago, Axel and I stood in the town hall of Dakar before an important looking municipal official with a big orange sash. Couple number 4 out of 16, he soon pronounced us husband and wife, with a check mark in the box ‘option monogamique’ on our now yellowed marriage certificate. It was hand typed, with some letters not as clear as others and, of course, two stamps, a tax stamp and a rubber stamp.

marriagecertapril12-1980.

Sita was in my belly, a third of the way towards babyhood, and I was sick most of the time; so sick that we did not attend our wedding party and our best man and woman standing in as the bride and groom. The next morning they came to tell us all about the party and brought what was left over of the traditional French profiterole wedding cake with the plastic bride and groom still standing tall. They have moved around the world with us and are languishing somewhere in a junk drawer, most of their paint peeled..

I think we have made up for the missed party by having, every spring, a gathering of friends to celebrate the new beginnings and promises that come with spring, as well as our falling in love (37 years ago in Beirut) and our marriage (35 years ago in Dakar).

I had worried about being slapped on the shoulder and hugged and squeezed with people avoiding the arm in the sling, not realizing that the surgery was on the shoulder and thus the body part to be left alone. Tessa had pinned the blossom of a hydrangea on my shoulder, a trick that work fairly well when people arrived. They gingerly avoided pressing down on the flower, and thus my shoulder. But by the time of goodbyes, with the flower rather flat and tired, the tight hugs returned and I cringed a bit when people approached me with arms wide.

Axel had invited some 100 people, some I didn’t really know as he is the one with the social life while I am travelling around the world. Sometimes I had to have one guest introduce me to another. And then there is a hard core of friends who have been coming for decades. I looked at pictures of previous gatherings and noticed the people who are no longer with us and how we are aging together. Some of the kids from then are now coming with their own kids. This included Faro of course who had a ball, sneaking jelly beans and other candy that he usually doesn’t get at home.

We were blessed with great weather, albeit a bit windy, and most of the remaining snow disappeared. More sun and less snow predicted for today.

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