Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Don't ever envy anyone...

I forgot to elaborate on the ill, fragile looking person who came to mind at the hairdressers. Sara will be 37 this year, I am very good friends with her younger sister Rhian. While Rhian has a fiancé, lovely home and a 3 year old daughter, Sara lives with their elderly dad.
When I was around 17 I envied Sara, she seemingly 'had it all'. Scruffy grunge was the look 'du jour', yet Sara plumped for the WAG look (which was not commonplace in my small home town 17 years ago). Tan,  french polished nails, immaculate make-up, long chocolate brown hair styled in that 'just got out of bed' tousled look (which takes ages). Sara went to the gym regularly, did aerobics and boxercise classes, her boyfriend had a flashy car and was always buying her nice things and taking her on holiday.  He was like a caricature drawing of himself personified all gleaming teeth, big nose, rippling muscles.
Once, I stayed over Sara and Rhian's house on a work night, Sara offered me a lift to work in the morning. I got dressed and made a cuppa, then sat and waited for Sara. After 45 minutes of preening, she said "Luce, I'm not being funny but we've gotta leave in 10 minutes, you'd better get ready".
I WAS ready. Somehow she couldn't believe I wasn't going to be plastering foundation on, plucking my eyebrows and tonging my hair in preparation for a day being spat at, slapped and covered in all sorts of bodily fluid at work.
A few years later I had a baby and a house and Sara was made redundant. I started getting frequent visits from her, usually unexpected. A four pack of  fosters had become her latest accessory, her personal grooming, though more relaxed was still impressive. I never really fancied sipping cans on a Wednesday afternoon, not with a baby and house to look after. My assumption was that Sara didn't want to arrive empty-handed, and that she was at a loose-end, 'between jobs' and needed an excuse to spend time with someone.  Her relationship was struggling, his suffocating possessiveness made life hard. "Where are you?" "Put the radio on, prove you'e in the car" "What can you see from the window?" "Who are you with, put her on the phone". Awful.
Sara soon got a great new job, ditched the boyfriend and bought fancy sports car, as if to say "look what I can do on my own". The high-maintenance look was BACK.
 My jealousy returned, I was getting really fed up with my life, felt trapped, had no freedom or money. Seeing Sara all glamorous, fit, free and having all the things I couldn't was a reminder of what I'd never be.   Years went by, there were unsuccessful new relationships, problems at work, friends of Sara got married, had children, moved on while Sara just kept getting pissed.
Seeing Sara recently, I thought, there's nothing to envy now. Sara is underweight, looks haunted, stressed and ill. Caring for her elderly dad, unable to hold onto any new relationships for long, drinking too much, it's all etched on her face, her shoulders groan with the burden.
The tan has survived, along with the expertly-applied eye make-up, but her hair, clothes and nails are telling the tale of someone not looking after them self. I wonder if she notices she no longer turns heads, no longer makes other women jealous. I wonder if she ever knew she did.

4 comments:

  1. Very thought provoking post - i have friends who are wag-esk who I always envied but now we all hit our 30s their money has gone on looks and they dont have much else to show. I'd rather have the house, the baby and the rushed mummy look! Scarlett x

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  2. I love how you write; you've got a clarity to it that still manages to respect the people you write about.

    I completely empathise with you on envying the chic kids, you never know what lies beneath it all - scruffy for life!

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  3. Brilliant! You've managed to do in a few paragraphs what took Richard Yates at least 200 pages.

    I used to envy certain friends, but looking back they fell into relationships too easily, met the wrong people and ultimately ended up worse off.

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  4. Thank-you for the comments. I get so caught up with worrying about my grammatical errors, I forget that I am trying to make a point.

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