“comfort, satisfaction and familiarity”
September 9, 2011, 8:34 pm
Filed under: books, family, friendship, ideas, kids, life, marriage | Tags: , , , , , ,

My book club’s recent pick was “One Day” by David Nicholls which was met by mixed reviews from our group.  According to a recent interview (in the July issue of Chatelaine Magazine), the author says the book is “an epic love story, a bittersweet comedy about lost chances, a tribute to friendship, a book about growing old and what changes and what stays the same, and a satire about British society between the ’80’s and now.”  

Over wine and cheese we discussed the book and there were two camps:  one group who felt the book fell short because the characters lacked depth and the reader “didn’t care” about them, the other group was moved by the characters who, admittedly underdeveloped, made them think about their own lives and relationships.  I belonged to the latter group.  I enjoyed the book.  No, it wasn’t the most amazing feat of literary genius, but it was written well enough to keep me interested.  Perhaps, it was the journey of the two main characters that kept me reading on.  I wanted to know how their lives turned out, what became of them.  

Our discussion led to talk of marriage, kids, passion and divorce.  The following paragraph was discussed:

“No, this, she felt, was real life and if she wasn’t as curious or passionate as she once had been, that was only to be expected.  It would be inappropriate, undignified, at thirty-eight, to conduct friendships or love affairs with the ardour and intensity of a twenty-two-year-old.  Falling in love like that?  Writing poetry, crying at pop songs?  Dragging people into photo-booths, taking a whole day to make a compilation tape, asking people if they wanted to share your bed, just for company?  If you quoted Bob Dylan or T.S. Eliot or, God forbid, Brecht at someone these days they would smile politely and step quietly backwards, and who would blame them?  Ridiculous, at thirty-eight, to expect a song or book or film to change your life.  No, everything had evened out and settled down and life was lived against a general background hum of comfort, satisfaction and familiarity.  There would be no more of those nerve-jangling highs and lows.  The friends they had now would be the friends they had in five, ten, twenty years’ time.  They expected to get neither dramatically richer nor poorer; they expected to stay healthy for a little while yet.  Caught in the middle; middle class, middle-aged; happy in that they were not over happy.”

Hmm . . . “life was lived against a general background hum of comfort, satisfaction and familiarity”?  Is that a good thing or a bad thing?  I’ve had this conversation with several people now and it seems that being “comfortable” has a negative connotation?  I appreciate comfort – my favorite jeans, high heels that don’t give me blisters, our sofa. 

My husband and I have been together for only 10 years and with two young children, we don’t have as much time alone together and at times life can seem dull and repetitive.  Sure, the excitement level is different now, but I don’t have the energy or inclination to live like I did at 22!  But I’m happy.  We have a nice, comfortable, home.  Our boys are healthy.  We’re healthy.  We get to see family and friends fairly regularly.  We take vacations.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Love Notes Over Time


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