When I set out a few weeks ago to have an entire week of guest posters talking about meeting their spouses, love and weddings, I never imagined that it would become world wide. And here I am sharing that we have reached across the Atlantic to Luschka (from Diary of a First Child) in London! I swear she is sooo much fun to tweet with that I’m going to hop a plane and crash at her place. Hope she won’t mind. Except right now of course because she is on a family holiday travelling across Europe. Today (I believe) they were to be in Croatia, so she sent me the story of how she met her husband a few days ago.
(If you read this Luschka – I hope you are having safe travels and are enjoying every minute!)
Whenever I tell people our story, they smile at me with something similar to disbelief. I can understand it, though, as I’d not have believed it either, had it not happened to me.
I wanted to move to England, so I was working a regular 8 – 5 government job during the day, and working 9 pm – 7 am and every second weekend in a friend’s bar (Yes, I worked a lot and slept a little!) One quiet sunny Saturday afternoon there was no one there so I sat behind the bar studying, when the door opened in to the dark interiors of this underground, windowless bar.
A stream of light came through and in the centre of it a man walked. I looked up at him, and once the door had shut and I could see his face, I thought in a dark corner of my mind that ‘A man like that would never look twice at someone like me’ – I had come out of a series of painful relationships and had a pretty low self esteem at the time!
The man turned out to be the deputy chief sub editor for our biggest English newspaper, and since I was studying for a degree in languages and literature we had a lot to talk about. It also happened that we had both been friends with the same people and been to the same houses and the same parties and concerts for a number of years, but had never met.
Over the next three months we became really good friends, and spent more and more time together. We decided that we would not date , though – there was no point. I was leaving. In February 2003 we had our first real ‘date’ and by the time I left South Africa on 21 March 2003, we were so in love, that getting on the plane was the hardest thing I could have done, but I knew I had to. It was the right thing for me.
We said that I would do my two years in England and when I returned we’d see where we were and perhaps try again.
Four days later, he called me and said that if I would wait for him, he would quit his job, sell his house and join me in England nine months later. Three months, R10,000 and £1000 in phone calls and internet time later, Martin arrived in Cambridge, England.
We spent a month together, then one Saturday morning, in our best clothes, with flowers in my hair, we entered Great St Mary’s church in Cambridge. We weren’t able to get legally married as we did not belong to a parish and had no money, so we stood in a prayer chapel in front of two friends and said vows to each other.
It was our wedding, in our hearts, our commitment to each other and to our shared future. It was a promise to make a forever promise, when the time was right. Our friends cried. Karen said it was the most honest union she’d ever been part of.
It hasn’t all been sunshine and roses. There have been tough times, and times where we’ve been at crossroads and had to make conscious decisions to keep loving each other, to keep working at it and to keep going.
The problem with a fairytale romance is that at some point it becomes reality, and then choice sets in. I remember the words of an old song “Love is not a feeling its an act of your will, it’s devotion not emotion and it truly will fulfil”.
Seven years, five legally, and a little girl later, I can attest to this. It is an act of will. It’s closing your eyes and remembering the man walking in on the ray of light. It’s remembering the dreadful farewell at the airport. It’s looking at this person who changed what I believed about love and about myself and it’s about choosing, every morning, to live happily ever after.