Well, I don’t know where to start. What a wonderful weekend. Anyone who follows me on Twitter or facebook will already know but I may as well blog for posterity.
It was my 35th birthday on Saturday, and festivities were planned, with some friends coming over. However, the forecast was shocking, so on Friday I decided to leave work a bit early to go enjoy a drink somewhere in the sunshine – as that was likely to be my only chance. So, I met my lovely other half, Mark, at the station in Leeds, hopped on a train home, and marvelled at the more than usual number of drunken wankers who seemed to be Hebden bound for a Friday evening.
Once there we wandered into town making no particular decision about where to go till we were on Bridge Gate.
“Let’s go to the Hole in the Wall” he says.
I say no, it’s all shady, I want to sit in the sun.
He harrumphs. “Well then, let’s just look at the ducks for a bit.” This is usually my line, but I demur and we go up on the bridge to look down at the ducks. There are about three of them, and they aren’t being very interesting.
“Can we go for a drink now? The White swan?”
“No, let’s wait a bit” I should have twigged here- he never delays a drink if he can avoid it. I get the definite sensation of stalling going on. But, I shrug it off thinking maybe he’s seen someone he wants to avoid. I look at the sunlight playing on the dappled waves below, bringing a burished beauty to the pebbles and stones on the river bed. Eventually, the group of people who were on the bridge near us moved on.
“Finally!” he says, and rummages in his bag. He hands me a parcel, romantically wrapped in green “University of Leeds” wrapping paper.
“Here’s your birthday present”
I unwrap it. It is a hardback copy of Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince. I am a bit confused, I have read it. I own it. Ok, maybe it’s a signed first edition or something.
“Open it” he says. I do.
Inside, I see that he has cut away into the book, like you do to make a secret box. I actually at first sight don’t notice that he has cut down to a chapter heading called “The Unbreakable Vow”, I just see the ring, hanging on a green ribbon.
He turns me to him, and goes down on one knee in the sunshine.
“Sarah, I love you. Will you marry me?” At least I think this is what he said. Something of that general gist. It’s a bit of a blur.
He looked so sweet and nervous.
I pulled him up and said, “Of course, yes, of course I’ll marry you, gump face” (again, approximation. May have been doofus, or derp.) I think I was already crying by this point. He handed me a sheet of paper too- a letter, asking me the question again- for our relationship has long been about letters. He says he wants us to pick another ring together, but it’s not important. It would be nice (hell, who doesn’t like more jewellery) but this sweet little diamond on White gold means more than the world to me.
Anyway. We went for that drink then. I could’t speak properly I was so befuddled. Funny. He told me of all his plans and conspiracies- I found out that several people had been “in on it”. Suddenly Helen’s (librarywench22) overenthusiastic parting at work “have a fabulous night tonight” made sense.
Apparently the crucial page had turned out to be inconveniently verso when the book arrived. He cut it out an tipped it back in the other way round. I said, you could have cut from the other side and turned the dust jacket round, I’d never have known… Like I said, the clever subtleties were drowned out by the shiny shiny anyway. We wandered over to the Fox and Goose, then Stubbing Wharf, I got eaten by midges, we eventually got a take away and went home.
Saturday I woke up early and wondered if it had been real.
“Happy Birthday Nearly-wife”, he said. Apparently it had.
I can’t explain why it’s important to me. I wondered how it would feel, if he did propose. I had desperately wanted to marry my ex, for many years, and I can’t say that the fact we didn’t wasn’t a big part for me about why it didn’t work out in the end. But after we broke up, a part of me felt that marriage wasn’t important any more, it hadn’t happened when it should have done, so I mentally let it go. Thought if it came, nice enough, but it didn’t have the totemic importance it had once had. My relationships prior to my ex, were mainly with women, and even though Civil Partnership wasn’t legal back then, we’d still talked about commitment ceremonies of some kind as something we wanted. When I found myself in a relationship with a man, where marriage suddenly was an option – I was amazed to find the objections were his. Hey ho. Life is strange.
But to my immense relief, my joy was undiminished. The feeling of happiness and excitement is amazing, and a real tonic to someone who spends so much time being messed around by my dodgy depressive brain. I still have sadness and enormous regret – but life moves on, and hopefully my ex and his lovely new girlfriend will be just as happy, whether they marry or not. (No sarcasm – for those who don’t know me it’s librarywench22 as above – one of my bestest friends and one of the few people I would trust with J.)
The Birthday celebrations happened, we drank, we mooched, it rained – we ate enormous and lovely food at The Tapas Bar in Todmorden. I got a year older. But suddenly I feel a lot younger than I did before.