Tell us your story.”
The lovely and gracious Mrs C, who I’ve blogged about before, asked me this question a month ago now, and I’ve been meaning to answer ever since.
Why of course, Mrs C, I’ll tell you our story, and I’d say that it’s for no other reason than to have it written here for my children… but if I’m honest, it’s simply my pleasure; to lose myself in the memeory of something sweet. The only problem is it’s painful once it’s over, coming out the other side… sometimes memories fit like warm gloves, and the cold when you take them off again is unbearable.. it feels like frostbite.
I’ve written before, kind of briefly, about how we met, and ironically I ended that post with “And we all lived happily ever after.”
If only I’d known.
Tony and I, we met in a collision of perfect timing. I was newly single. He was over being single. And both of us were looking for That Person.
Romance is lovely, the sweet peaches feeling of falling in love is even better. But a long term relationship- a marriage, I guess- is built on more than that. Respect, commitment, a desire to make this work… I think anyone who’s celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary will happily tell you that. Marriage is hard work, and you have to be in it from the beginning.
And both of us were.
We discussed this many times… we were both looking for That Person, the one who was stable, fun, bright, who kept us interested… and who felt secure enough, real enough, tangible enough to begin to build a life with.
I guess it wasn’t so much that we begin a relationship, and then gradually saw our lives together fold out from that. We began our relationship with the unspoken intent of getting married, staying together, having kids. Building up a lovely little suburban life.
Which, of course, was what we did.
Mrs C asked me how long it took to find each other. I don’t know how long Tony had been actively looking…. but I’d been waiting for him for years. Getting married, having babies… that was on my bucket list, remember? I was just looking for the perfect bloke to do it with. And Tony was looking for a girl, different to all the ones in the area he lived; a girl to settle down with. And he told me later, in hindsight, that the second he saw me he thought “I could marry this girl.”
So, for my babies, who may read this one day and see it in grainy tones like old holiday photos, I guess these are the things you should know. The things that mean nothing at all… but tiny threads weave magic into the fibre of healthy relationships.
The first time I met your father, I was wearing brown cargo pants and a pink singlet top; and he amazed six months later when I asked him, and he remembered.
And on our first date, your father borrowed his best mates car, because he was so afraid his would break down and leave us stranded on the side of the road. And the first time we kissed was in the front seat of that car, before the evening had really started, nerves making him kiss me far quicker and less romantically than I would have wished.
Your father, he asked me to go bowling for our first date, and I laughed at him- that would have been far too embarrassing, bowling in front of someone I barely knew. Instead we ended up at a restaurant in Leichardt, me too nervous to eat, teasing him about having ‘bad coffee etiquette’ because he licked the froth off his spoon, and he remembered that too, and mentioned it only weeks before he died.
We went out for the first time on a Wednesday, and weren’t supposed to see each other until Saturday, but just couldn’t stay apart. And- embarrassing as this may be for you to read, I’m putting it in anyway- it took until Saturday night, four dates, for us to all in to bed together, nearly biting chunks from each other’s skin in an effort to get closer.
Two weeks after we got together, I had my wisdom teeth out and was in pain for days. Your father bought me a pink teddy bear carrying a love heart under it’s arm, and it reminded me so much of him… carrying his heart and soul under his arm, unprotected and prepared to lay it out in front of me. I wish I had kept it- the teddybear, I mean, the heart and soul I still have.
The first Christmas we spent together- just a year before the first of you was born- we drove all the way to Cowra, slept in a tiny, freezing house; and came home with a kitten we named Diddy that ran away two weeks later.
One night, after we’d been together about three weeks, I turned to your father and whispered to him in the dark “Do you love me?” and the answer that came back was “Can’t you tell by the way I hold you, that I do?” I know, because I wrote it down in my diary, but your father, he never remembered that one.
When we moved into our Purple House, we were as happy as two people have ever been.
And that’s the most important thing to know… no matter what happened before, or what came after, we were, at so many points, two very, very happy people. And you are the direct product of that happiness.
Love is, as they say, a many splendoured thing… but it’s not always grand. Sometimes, the best bits of love stories… they’re the average bits. The everyday bits. The little bits of ordinary that happiness turns into magic.