When asked what my idea of perfect happiness would look like I couldn’t immediately picture it. Many things went through my head, scenarios in which I have previously been very happy.
Right now even, as I write these words lying on my bed in the Shakespeare and Company library, Aggie the cat is lying on my stomach, her tail resting on my arm. Collette, the dog was just moments before lying at my feet. Three people who I love are nearby. I am blissfully content.
When the question was asked we were sat in the Jardin du Luxembourg drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes and shooting the shit. We had been talking about life the universe and everything.
When asked the question, like I said before, nothing immediately came to mind. Vague ideas, concepts even, were present, like being surrounded by people I love, being in a place I am happy in or being able to say I have done all the things I said I wanted to do.
I thought about past experiences in which happiness was so present.
I thought about sleeping over at my teenage best friends house every Saturday, eating chinese food and cookie dough whilst watching films.
I thought about Disneyland with my little sister, then again with her and my mum.
I thought about going to festivals with my dad when I was young. Dancing to Madness in a field full of people. Standing on a camping chair so I could have my picture taken in front of Lily Allen’s stage backdrop. Of course I was standing in front of the Allen bit so it looked maybe a bit like I was about to perform.
I thought about every time I have been with one of my closest friends from home. The first time I told him I had feelings for him. The first time I really spoke to him. I was in London with quite a bit of time to kill so I messaged him to ask what I should do in London. I was convinced he had mentioned being from London once but it turns out he’s not, but he is from nearby ish. He suggested a museum or an art gallery. I went to the Tate Modern and kept him up to speed with all the modern art I didn’t understand. One night after I had been working as an elf, I went first to my other job to get food, a peanut butter bacon burger and garlic fries with some baconaise, then to his place. He opened his door to me still dressed as an elf and I just felt a rush of a feeling I can’t quite articulate. Like I was home, but in a person. Like he was where I was supposed to be.
I thought about sitting around in sixth form with my school friends who I love dearly. Messing around, talking about everything and nothing in between lessons. Doing online quizzes, mostly Harry Potter related or finding out what personality types we all are on various scales.
I thought about every single time I have been in a room learning, watching or performing improv comedy.
I thought about sitting on my dad’s knee watching panel shows in his office until way past my bedtime.
I thought about walking through the streets of Denmark with my best friend and not really taking any of it in because we were too absorbed in the shit sketch ideas we were coming up with. Or showing her my favourite view in the world when we were in Paris. Or of the last day we spent together before I moved out of Bristol, my home town, when we explored places I’d never been before and we took loads of pictures.
I thought about everytime I had ever sat next to my brother on an airplane.
I thought about trying to make a short film but just giggling with my friend and ‘costar’ or cackling as we tried to play this clapping game we had learned at improv class.
I thought about the conversations I had with two of my closest friends from school before we went to sleep every night back when we all had blackberries and used bbm. Also about making music videos to Olly Murs songs or learning the Rizzle kicks rap.
I thought about playing poker and spoons on skiing holidays when I was younger.
I thought about when a close friend came to visit not long after I had moved to Paris. I could be exactly myself with this person, it was so comforting.
I thought about new friends I had made in Paris, about singing karaoke at a Chinese new year party we accidentally went to.
I thought about dancing and playing the cardboard box game where you have to pick it up with your mouth and rip off a layer everytime everyone had managed it at new years across the road at my neighbours house.
I thought about sharing a mango with my friend in Barcelona.
I thought about my dog.
I still didn’t know though what complete and perfect happiness looked like to me. It was all of these things and yet it wasn’t quite. Maybe because this has all already happened so its happiness with a bit of sorrow that its over now. Whatever it was I didn’t know what perfect happiness looked like for me, so I listened to my friends talk about what they saw when they thought of perfect happiness.
Pregnant, surrounded by children, cooking for a huge family.
Waking up on a Sunday, beautiful light coming through the window, in bed with his wife and baby.
In a big house in the countryside, children laughing and picking apples in a nearby orchard.
As I heard all these family oriented, children oriented, love oriented dreams my image formed. This is my idea of perfect happiness:
I am sat on an airplane with my family, my husband or wife and my three children. My eldest, a girl, Genevieve, and two younger ones, maybe another girl called Irene, maybe a boy, I don’t know what his name would be. Or maybe four children. Genevieve and Irene still and my youngest, twin girls, Carol and Barbara. We’re all excited, we’re going on holiday! Somewhere sunny. We’ll go to a beach, maybe a water park. We’ll definitely visit some castle ruins or a cool museum or art gallery. We’ll eat so much. Going out for food or just cooking where ever we’re staying. We’ll play cards and board games into the night and we’ll swim loads.
The moment the plane is taking off is my idea of perfect happiness.
Having written that down I realise I have just described every family holiday I had as a child. My parents raised me so well and I am so grateful. I can only hope for the same for my kids.