What a Difference a Decade Makes

A few days ago I met up with a friend I had only met a handful of times a decade ago, and in an interesting twist of fate, has just landed in Istanbul. While we sat in the wonderfully empty, glossy Pera Museum cafe she told me that when we last saw each other I was 29, the age she is now. 10 years. What must I look like to her? I felt the start of tears when she told me that I am just the same. She uses the word energetic. It takes a moment to sink in. The essence of her is identical, completely untarnished, it is a warm clarity, an intelligent openness. We both describe ourselves as tired. I am so bored of using the word about myself but all other adjectives I might use are blocked by the woolly, grey mass of it.

I skip back (not merrily) to what life was like when I met her. It was completely dominated by a shared-parenting arrangement I couldn't get used to, to get out of a marriage I couldn't live with. My part of Ruskin's life being weekends and holidays I had little choice but to qualify as a teacher and work in the same county to ensure I never missed an opportunity to be with him. As it was impossible to find work in the tiny Dales village where he lived with his father, Friday meant a long journey on public transport and foot. Living in York, working in Leeds and fitting days of longing into weekends meant that I was always running. Which was good, as I was terrified of what I would feel if I stood still.

If someone could have told me ten years ago that before the next decade was up I would be able to see Ruskin whenever I wanted and make decisions about his life again, have met a man I could imagine loving and respecting to the grave, have two new children and a step-son just the age to unify the brood, that I would get to travel and live abroad, I could have stopped the tears sooner and smiled more often. How is it only ten years since I felt I had been checkmated before the game had begun. I hope the next ten years will feel as long as the last, despite the promised sunshine.

Of course, life hasn't become less complex. I would also have struggled to believe that I could fight for a year to have Ruskin living with me full-time only to find that being educated in Turkey didn't work for him, and the solution be boarding school in England. Or, after promising myself I would never do it again, raising children far from the support of family (though I did pop back to the UK for two home births at my Mum and Dad's house!). I am hopeful that there will be days ahead that are a bit simpler, a lot more secure and even containing some luxury, but I have a strong feeling that if Ville and I get the chance to grow old together we will say 'Do you remember?' most about what life contains now. We are running, but our arms are full of the best things money can't buy, and moments of stillness nothing to fear.

So, ten years from now? Will we have moved to Finland as we plan? Will we finally have a garden? Will we have our first Grandchild? The only thing that really matters is that our little cast of characters are all still on the stage. What a difference they have made, Ville has made.


Gezi Parkı
10 years on.

Ping, Anton and Neve in Gezi Parkı.
Ping, Anton and Neve.

Ruskin and Neve on the Motor to Bostancı.
How soothed I would have been by this image 10 years ago. How much it delights me now.

On the E-9 bus from Bostancı to the airport.
On the bus to the airport the boys struggle to stay awake but Anton is determined not to miss a single car.

Ruskin going through passport control.
Waving Ruskin off after the summer holidays. Till half term.

Neve on the vapur home.
Neve on the vapur back to Heybeliada.

Vapur friends.
The children often make new friends on the vapur.

Willing hands.
There are usually people on the boats hoping for a cuddle with Neve.

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3 thoughts on “What a Difference a Decade Makes

  1. I simply loove that picture of Neve cuddling this big boy... he looks so protecting and sweet... this is my favorite for a long time! Supercute!

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  2. Wow! What a story. I'm so glad things changed dramatically for you over the last ten years. You have managed to keep running all these years! Your family is beautiful... they look happy, and what is there better than happy children?

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  3. It's always enjoyable to catch up with good friends, no matter how long you've been apart. I'm glad today's meetup finds you in better circumstances than before. Lovely pictures, as always.

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