The truth about June 16th.

I’ve never read Ulysses. I’ve never even tried though I’ve wanted to, because in truth, its size and fame scare me more than anything. Dearest Ulysses, lovely James Joyce, you have a lot of expectations to fulfill; one being the importance of June 16th. In 1956 (so, this year it would have to be 56 years ago) a tremendously tragic wedding took place: that of Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. It was said to be rushed and happened to last only six years, until they separated sometime in ’62. The essence of their possibly abusive relationship was always controversial in the eyes of the public and it is at times difficult to view it as an ideal romance; but human beings are intricate, and relationships between them even more so.  One of the first mentions of him in her journals (March 10th) goes, “Ted it seems is assigned to write a synopsis of James Joyce’s Ulysses (!!!)” and a less interested eye than mine would have flown over that line; but when I read it, my heart stood still. A couple of months later, on Bloomsday, they exchanged vows in a small chapel in London.

On the same date, two years ago, I was sitting in an airport, alone. I was inside a tiny post office, at a desk, with my backpack and my camera and an ink pen in my hand, thinking long and hard before scribbling a couple of lines from a song on the back of a postcard with headphones drowning out the busy sound of packages leaving and arriving, of stamping and last-minute boarding calls, having suddenly realised before heading to London on some bizarre adventure that I was ready to bind my heart to someone else in the strangest of ways.

As time-aware human beings, dates are important to us. They give us an extra sense of security – this knowing that birthdays, holidays, anniversaries come back every year, regularly, no matter where we are or with whom; to me, that special day will always be June 16th, the day on which Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes got married, “maybe a bad omen, but I don’t think so” as I once said. As humans, we see signs in everything; and I’ve done it all, stepping over cracks in the pavement and making a wish when seeing a shooting star, crossing my fingers before an exam or reading the right words at the right time. Sometimes, some of these feel like signs that we ought to take notice of, and that complicated crack in the pavement I seem to have followed since June 16th of two years ago even more so; that date is the biggest sign of them all, and it reminds me that no matter how bad things might get, I’ll always have someone who will be my home.

 

Freely walking, hand in hand. No people; no parties; no warmth; no blur of lights, voices, flesh, wine. Two of us, strong and together along the streets. [..] Heads tilted back to the stars.
(Sylvia Plath)

 

 

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