As of this time yesterday, the husband and I have been married for ten whole years.
To celebrate, we took advantage of my parents’ offer of thirty hours of free childcare last week and absconded to Portmeirion for the night.
For those unfamiliar with North Wales’ only Italianate village, it looks a bit like this:
Built by architect Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion is the ultimate folly, and quite unlike anywhere else in the world. It is also the setting for the cult 1960s TV series, The Prisoner, which the husband made me watch all of while I was pregnant, and thus unable to rely on wine to help make sense of the weird twists and turns of the plot.
(Wikipedia summary: The series follows a British former secret agent who is abducted and held prisoner in a mysterious coastal village resort, where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job. This does not, I feel, even begin to cover the general surreality of the whole experience. The Wild West episode, for instance, is a particular low point.)
The husband is a big fan, though, and since he’s always wanted to stay in The Village (as it’s called in the show) I thought I’d treat him for our anniversary. (The fact that I love it there and it has a two Michelin starred restaurant and dinner included in the price was completely coincidental.)
I was a little concerned that, without the kids to fuss over and argue with, we might run out of things to talk about. It’s been a long time since we had only each other for company. (The husband, having discovered The Prisoner TV channel in our suite, had no such concerns.)
But as it turned out, thirty hours away from the children, and from reality, in a weird Welsh village, was the perfect opportunity for us to have all the conversations you never really have time for in everyday life. The ones about the future, and hopes and dreams and plans.
We talked about the kids, of course, and how they’re both doing, and how we can support them. We talked about the house, and our plans for redecorating and, eventually, moving. We talked about ideas for next year’s family holiday, and possibilities for celebrating his upcoming milestone birthday. We talked about his job, his PhD, and the direction he wants to take his career next.
Which led, quite naturally, to him asking about my career, and where I wanted to go next with my writing.
The thing is, I’m always so grateful to be fortunate enough to have the career I always dreamed of, I sometimes forget to think about the next step. I spent so long trying to get to where I am – a published author – that I never really considered what would come next.
When Number 6, the Prisoner himself, first woke up in the Village, he had only one objective – escape. But soon it became clear that escape alone wasn’t enough for him. He needed to know why he was there, who had taken him, where the Village was, and who ran it.
There’s always a next step.
In my case, I think it’s taking a moment, in between all my contracted projects, to dream a little. To imagine that road I’ve only walked halfway along, consider the signposts, and speculate about what might be around the next bend – then figure out how to get there.
I’m not escaping – I’m going deeper and further into a world I love. And I’m excited to find out what’s waiting for me there.