Eight years ago today I had a date. It was a last ditched attempt. I was over internet-dating lunacy, mismatched and ill-adivsed gents. Everything from gothic huggers with goblets of wine to military, shot-necking, pub-crawling, nose-suckers. It was every bit as horrendous as it sounds.
This guy sounded sane. He had similar wants and requirements – as well as ticking the essential ‘over-six-foot’ box.
We chatted whilst I was presenting at a Head Teacher’s conference in Bournemouth (as a humble, deputy head it should be noted). We arranged a date for the following week. One thing I’d learned – don’t chat for too long. You become invested in a fantasy – the image of the person you think you’ll be meeting.
We met. I was dubious. He’d come straight from work and hadn’t had chance to breathe. But I liked his style. I liked his approach, And as he wound down from his day, I liked him. I liked our shared westcountry background. I might have instigated the first kiss. Brazen, but happy on the number 18 night-bus home alone.
He did as he said he would. He called. He arranged follow-up dates. He let me in to his world. He gave me a key. He let me move my coffee machine into his flat. He whisked me to Paris (full romance if it wasn’t for the bout of food poisoning). He insured me on his car.
Frankly, he wooed me. He gave me every confidence, through his actions, that I was his sole focus and someone he wanted to invest in. That’s all I’d ever wanted. To be reassured and to be wanted.
The came the make or break. A phone call in the middle of H&M Wandsworth informed me he’d booked a holiday to Egypt for the pair of us. His thinking four months in: if we could manage a week away then I could move in. There were some fractious moments but we came back stronger and within five months my flat was sold.
Three months later we went for a weekend walk in to town. Cartier was suggested. What girl wouldn’t melt at being taken in to the Bond Street flagship to pick out an engagement ring… on what would have been your Dad’s birthday, five days shy of your first anniversary. This guy had style, but also had a way of making everything ok.
Rings picked up, he kept me hanging on…. and on!
Another trip to Paris a few months later and, yes, I absolutely had my nails done in anticipation. A worthwhile investment it was, as he got down on one knee in a darkened Parisian hotel room (the same hotel we’d first stayed in minus the food poisoning) and proposed to me in pigeon French.
I said yes. And we bought a home. And we stood on ‘Top of the Rock’ in NYC to say I do, just us two. And we tried for a baby. And we lost one. And we helped each other through the lonely process of grief. But we then made our union a three. We welcomed our son to the world in 2017.
So today, on our eighth anniversary of meeting, I look back at the photos of the couple we were. Are we that same pair?
He’s calmed me. He’s fulfilled me by giving me the gift of motherhood. He’s supported me through the most exponential changes.
We have weathered a lockdown. He’s driven me insane at points (and clearly vice versa). He will always be the introvert to my extrovert.
We are both still ‘petal’ to each other but more often than not we are ‘Mummy’ or ‘Daddy.’ We dont get to go out as husband and wife much but we love our time as a three. We are in bed by 10pm most nights and I’m not shamed to admit that I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Time is like a buffer. It smoothes off the edges till you just rub along together. The highs and the lows are lessened. You need to be careful not to plateau too much. Complacency is not the healthiest of mindsets.
So here’s to eight years of choosing you, of becoming us, of adapting and growing.
Here’s to love.