Taking my hat off to Julia

I had an evening out this week with an old friend I’ve not seen for ages; it was hugely enjoyable.

We drove out to a small village pub a few miles away to sample their lovely home-cooked food and have a couple of drinks.  The place was full of people having Christmas parties, with paper hats, crackers and all the festive paraphernalia.  We managed to get a table in a cosy corner right by the open log fire and got down to some long overdue catching up.

My friend has been on her own for the last six years, since her now ex husband traded her in for a younger model.  Have to say, Julia was looking great.

I also have to say that six years on from the most traumatic period of her life, my midlife friend has things pretty much sorted.  Yes, she struggles financially even though she has a full-time job.  Yes, she has had to take on endless new responsibilities.  But aside from all the obvious problems of being on her own after a being in a long marriage, she’s a whole new woman.  The Julia I knew long ago was always assertive to an extent; she ran her own successful business for many years.  But the new Julia makes the old Julia look like a mere shadow.

Julia is in her mid fifties; her attitude to life is that of someone 20 years younger.  “Young at heart” is a good description.

She told me of her trip to Hungary to get her teeth fixed; she went there because it cost less than having the treatment in the UK.  It involved three trips, and she travelled alone for two of them.  Whilst there, she visited the sights of Budapest, enjoyed the luxurious spa waters in the city, stayed in a good hotel and ate out.  All alone.  And she was happy with that.

This last summer Julia went on a camping trip with her two grown up children; camping would not normally be Julia’s thing.  The three of them and Julia’s dog stayed in a large old tent usually used by the kids for music festivals, so it’s well-used to say the least.  And the camping pitch they had in Cornwall was on a serious slope (they were late booking!), the result of which found Julia waking up each morning in a bundle several feet from where she started out as she’d slipped down the slope during the night.  They had breakdowns with the old car they were travelling in, requiring a new clutch cable and new wheel bearings just to keep them on the road.  All of this she thought amusing, although when her son suggested whilst driving home that they repeat the trip next year, she told him, “Over my dead body!”

There were other very funny tales to tell that evening and I came away with panda eyes from my mascara running down my face.  Inevitably, some of the jokes were at the expense of her ex husband, who incidentally is on to his third relationship since the split from Julia.  “He’s obviously having a hard time finding a good replacement!” was what she said with a grin.

Julia is more confident and happier in her own skin than ever before.  She’s thinking of re-starting her business on a part-time basis.  She’s thinking of the future; she feels that a new man would be quite nice, although she’s not sure where to find one.  She was hoping I could perhaps supply her with one, but I don’t know of any going spare right now.  She also knows that a new relationship could work now that she’s recovered and found fresh confidence; any sooner would probably have spelled disaster.

I’m loving that new sparkle she has in her eyes.  I admire her “young at heart” approach to life.  I adore that she can swear creatively, laugh and joke around and look to the future with joy.  I’m completely and properly taking my hat off to Julia.

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