Aithníonn ciaróg ciaróg eile is an Irish seanfhocail or old saying, which literally translated means "one beetle recognises another beetle", but it roughly translates as "like sees like". It's a phrase that has come to mind a lot to me lately, since I made a new friend this Summer.
Debbie, like me, is in her forties. We met through a common interest in surfing early last May. I bought a wetsuit in her shop, we started talking about a social group she was trying to get off the ground for ladies our age who were interested in a combination of yoga and surf lessons (although not at the same time, the tree pose might prove to be something more of a challenge when attempted on top of a six foot wave) and soon recognised some commonality in each other. She told me that now that her daughters are in their twenties and have left home, she and her husband are now empty nesters, albeit very young ones. I told her that I was over forty and childless, and was finding it hard to relate to a lot of women my age group, who are caught up in the whirlwind of life that is child rearing.
I never did get around to those yoga or surf lessons, but over the Summer, John and I began to hang out with Deb and her husband almost every weekend. Over a bottle of wine one night, she told me the story of how she got together with her husband. Like me, Deb is on her second marriage. She met her first husband at the age of 21. Coincidentally, I met my first husband when I was aged 21. Bizarrely, our ex husbands share the same first name. Hers was also a control freak, who had an extra marital affair (yep, sounds familiar). She met her second husband, a really lovely, kind guy, shortly after she left her first husband (same here). The only difference so far was that she had two children with her first husband, and was able to divorce him within a year of their marriage breaking up, whereas I had no children in my first marriage, and had to wait four years to be granted a divorce.
The similarities in life experiences don't end there though. Deb found great happiness with her new man, but unfortunately their lives were touched by one great sadness: infertility. They tried in vain for years to have children together, but sadly it wasn't to be. They went through years of medical investigations, fertility drugs and sheer and utter grief. Deb told me that once she had come to the realisation that it was never going to happen for them, she went through two years of deep grief. She said she literally could not look at anyone else's baby, such was her feeling of loss. This might seem melodramatic to someone whose life has never been touched by infertility, but as someone who has waded through the trenches, and is still plodding on, I found this totally understandable. The happy ending for this lovely couple didn't come in the form of another child, but in the form of acceptance.
Ten years ago, they stuck a pin in a map of Ireland, came over from the UK in their van for a recce, and decided to move their family to the west coast, to set up their own business. They're still in business, ten years on. They work seven day weeks, for not a huge return, but they are happy in life. They have their surfing, they play in a band, they live in their house in the country with four dogs and a geriatric cat. This summer, Deb dyed her hair bright pink. She reckons if she's going to be the lead singer in a punk/rock group she might as well look the part. A forty six year old punk rocker surf chick, living in the arse end of County Clare. She's my hero.
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