When Fiction Hits Home…

I read Eloise and the Grump Next Door over the weekend, an Emma St Clair and Jenny Proctor novel. It’s a fun romcom with a delightful cast of characters I wish were real-life friends of mine, a crazy pelican, and many swoony moments. Although I’m looking forward to the next book in this series, what my brain is “stuck” on at the moment are memories this story triggered.

You see, it’s an age gap romance, and it reminded me of my early days with Mr Wonderful.

My beloved husband graduated secondary school when I was in grade four. I joke with our girls that it wouldn’t’ve been a good look if he’d rocked up to his Year 12 Formal with a ten-year-old on his arm. 😉 (And yes, he cringes when I say that, which makes me laugh harder.)

We met at a big youth event at my church when I was twenty years old (by eight days!). He was hanging out with the sound guys—my then colleagues and, I soon learned, his mates—and seemed much too friendly. After years of school bullying and the unfortunate way my one and only relationship had ended, I had trust issues. Major trust issues which had built a fifty-metre wall around my heart.

Mr Wonderful earned his nickname two decades ago because he’s just so… wonderful. And patient. A few months after we met, some church friends convinced me he was just a friendly guy and not a flirt. “He’s like that with everyone,” they said, so I fired the sentry guarding the wall. And I fell in love.

But when your boyfriend is seven-and-a-half years older than you, you hear the occasional whisper. I mean, scandalous, right? 😉 However, the whispers at church intensified after we announced our engagement… three weeks before my twenty-first birthday. 🙊 Biting comments like, “it’s creepy as she’s barely out of school” or “it won’t last”. And my favourite when someone discovered our wedding date set five months later: “They’re rushing marriage so they can have sex.”

Um, well, yeah, I suppose that was an element because, hello, I saved that “first” for my husband, and what was the point of a long engagement when I knew I’d wear his wedding band for life (and his jumpers on wintry days). I was happy (still am over twenty years later!), level-headed in love, and planning my future.

So, like I had practiced many times over my school years, I ignored the naysayers. Just like Eloise and Jake in the aforementioned story, although their battles were more internal.

Have you read a book which dredged up locked-away memories and hurtled you back in time?

Until next time,

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