It’s October 13th as I write this, and I’m thinking about what I was doing this time fifteen years ago. Checking the weather forecast (still rain). Checking the dress (still there). Checking the mass booklets (still not done). A last lunch with my first (and hopefully last) husband-to-be.
The mood? Surreal. A little nervous. Very excited. And yeah, surreal. Wanting to feel everything and wondering what to feel. Should there be cold feet? If it was a movie, there’d be cold feet. If the weather forecast was to be believed, there would indeed be lots of cold feet, especially for any guests braving sandals.
We said goodbye, feeling weird – not in the least because we’d been living together for three years, and staying apart that night felt odd. Surreal.
What did I know back then about this guy, this office romance turned roomie? I knew he liked playing football and eating steak and drinking wine – the last one because I’d converted him. It’s no harm to marry someone open to a conversion.
I knew he liked travel and non-fiction and (very) old music. I knew he liked a new US series called Lost – and we both knew we could safely invest six years of our lives and be rewarded with a GREAT final episode that answered everything. Yes. Yes, we could.
I knew he was going to surprise me with earrings for our wedding morning, which is how I knew to buy a watch for him (I don’t know if I’ve ever told him the story of how I found out, or if he’ll see this here, but maybe fifteen years in, it’s time to tell).
What did I not yet know about this office romance turned roomie turned husband-to-be? I didn’t know that when I’d tell him a few months after our wedding that I was lonely in our new house, so far away from friends and family, that he’d immediately suggest we move. And that against the odds of the 2005 housing boom, we’d find a house.
I didn’t know he’d be the guy who knew exactly what not to say when my battered old car cut out in the middle of the dual carriageway, holding up rush-hour traffic. (What to say: “You poor thing, that’s so stressful, I’d be upset too.” What not to say: “Sure that’s nothing, what are you getting upset about?” – grr to the person who said that.)
I did not know he’d be the person to figure out how to make pancakes when I got stuck on a work trip on Pancake Tuesday – pancakes that were far better than the scrambled egg attempt I’d made some years earlier, before resorting to shop-bought crepes.
I did not know he’d rescue me from Dundrum Shopping Centre the first time I drove there on my own, convinced I’d never find my way home again.
I did not know how tightly he’d hold my hand during four tests, one loss, three births. I did not know he’d be the tea maker (blessed are the tea makers), the ironer, the grocery-buyer. I did not know he’d never leave his socks on the ground and expect someone else to pick them up. (I also did not know he’d always leave the wardrobe door open, but hey, we live and learn.)
I did not know he’d like cake and coffee and cheese and the small ceremonies of everyday life as much as I do. I did not know he’d see the dress I put on Insta Stories and buy it for me. I mean, it was 2004: I didn’t know Insta Stories would be invented at all.
I did know it was probably going to rain. And that I wouldn’t take it as a sign. Because marriages are made of people, not signs – not random weather events. And indeed, when I woke on October 14th 2004 and saw the rain, it let the air out. At least now we knew – no more wondering. And phew that I wasn’t wearing sandals or getting cold feet.
And that afternoon, when the sun came out and our photographer called us outside, I decided there’s no harm believing in signs when it suits.