exciting, informative, snarky, and very likely fabricated tales of life as an american expat in london

one down, only forty-nine to go

by Jen at 12:06 am on 20.02.2006 | 3 Comments
filed under: now *that's* love

today is our first wedding anniversary, so i thought i’d tell the story of how j and i met, since i’ve never really done that here.

first, there was the meeting that neither of us remember. in the summer of 2003, i had a kiwi friend from work named nicola, who was going out with this south african named john. she and i spent a whole summer hanging out and travelling together, and i was slowly introduced to the little expat ccommunity she was part of – she had a bunch of kiwi friends from home who were all here on working holidaymaker visas, and her boyfriend belonged to a similar cohort of south africans. the two little circles eventually melded into one big fluid circle of friends, and apparently i was once hanging out at nick’s house when j dropped by with a few other saffas. that meeting doesn’t really count, however, since both of us were a bit “under the influence” and only discovered later we’d been in the same place at the same time. if a tree falls in a forest, and neither remembers it, does it make a sound?

subsequent to that summer, i was deported from the u.k., and only made it back to london just before christmas. nicola invited me to join a group christmas dinner the big expat circle were doing, but i had already told my flatmate i’d have dinner with her and her boyfriend. unfortunately the flatmate and her boyfriend had an ill-timed big drunken, screaming, slamming row on christmas eve until the wee hours of the morning, and needless to say that christmas day was spent in awkward silence staring at the telly and drinking sherry. dinner was late to start and late to finish and when it finally ended, i rang nick, who assured me I should still drop by as the group dinner had segued into a big party. determined to salvage some part of my holiday, i cheerfully forked out the £25 cab fare (double fare on xmas with no tubes running) to get the hell out of the house. once at the party, i hung out drinking and dancing and indulging, and spent some time unsucessfully flirting with another kiwi guy who was there. at some point in the evening, i ended up in a discussion with j.

i wish i could say it was love at first sight, but to be truthful, the conversation was a bit bland, and though i remember thinking he was cute and smart, i didn’t immediately fall head over heels. the thing that i remember most about that evening was that after mentioning i was thirsty, he kept bringing me glasses of water throughout the evening. we went our separate ways after the party, knowing little more than each other’s first names. i mentioned in passing to nick that i thought he was really cute, but didn’t expect to ever see him again.

fast forward to valentine’s day 2004. i was out at a big party with my flatmate when i got a call from my friend nick. she mentioned some people were congregating at her place, and did i fancy coming by? i declined politely, as i was having fun where i was, and getting to her place would require a bit of travelling i just didn’t want to bother with. about an hour later, i got another call, trying to convince me to come through. and then another call. and then another. eventually i got out of her that j was there, and he wanted to meet me again and she was trying to arrange a hook-up. so i told her to give him my mobile number, and have him call me.

he called me a few hours later, and when i rang him back the next day, we had a very easy and comfortable conversation and arranged to go out. i was actually a bit nervous, because i had only a vague recollection of what he looked like, but when i finally spotted him, it was instant recognition. we had a great first date, the usual drinks and dinner, and though i was dying for him to kiss me on the way home, he didn’t. in fact, he didn’t kiss me until the very end of our second date, standing at the bus stop after i deliberately missed my bus to give him the opportunity to plant a smooch.

the third date… well, it was the third date (*delicate cough*). after that we were nearly inseparable. i was nervous – i’d fallen hard before only to end up gutted. but after he told me he loved me (10 days later) all that just melted away. we decided to move in together after three weeks. we decided to go around the world after four. then we went away for a long easter weekend to cornwall. We were in St. Ives on our second evening there, and we decided to have a drink and watch the sun set at this bar with an outdoor balcony overlooking the water. We were talking about being married previously, and our travel plans for around the world, and how excited we were to be moving in together. And we did this little routine we’d been doing for the past few weeks, where I said “Can I keep you?” and he said “Absolutely”, and I said “For how long?” and he said “As long as you’ll have me” and I said “Forever?” and he said “I’m yours”.

And then, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. it had been on the tip of my tongue for days, and I just blurted out “Will you marry me?” And he looked me right in the eye and said “Yes”. And I said “Really?” and he said “Yes”.

And so I started bouncing up and down and he said he wanted to ask me to make it official, so I said okay, we’d wait until he asked me, thinking it’d be a few days or weeks, and later that evening we were just cuddled up talking and out of the blue he said “Will you marry me?” and I said “yes”.

And then I burst into tears, and couldn’t stop crying.

that was 6 weeks after our first date. a year to the day of our first date, we were married at cape town, in a small ceremony on the beach. it was exactly perfect.

when i first got divorced, i spent a lot of time getting used to the possibility of being on my own for the rest of my life. i learned to be okay with that. i never thought i would remarry. i never thought i would want to.

i never would have picked j as someone who was exactly perfect for me. but he’s steady and ambitious and incredibly goofy. he’s got a perspective on life which constantly amazes me and he always knows what’s really important, yet never takes himself too seriously. he makes me laugh like no one i’ve ever met, is completely unafraid of facing stuff head-on, is always up for fun, and can still kick my ass at chess.

and for some unfathomable reason, he seems to fancy me. and makes me believe. he makes me believe in pablo neruda love poems, and 50 year anniversaries, and in that impulse that would make one lay down their life for another. he makes me believe that there might be a force in the universe which has a plan for my life, and that perhaps he is part of that plan. because i can’t conceive of any other explanation for it without attributing to blind luck, and i refuse to believe that such an incredibly significant event in my life could only have occurred through a random act of capriciousness.

he makes me believe in the possibility of forever – because i can’t imagine my life without him.

happy anniversary, j. one down, only 49 to go.


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  • 1

    Comment by boston buddy

    20.02.2006 @ 04:15 am

    you are a handsome couple…happy anniversary!

  • 2

    Comment by Nicole

    20.02.2006 @ 11:54 am

    Congrats! I

  • 3

    Trackback by Love Poems

    26.02.2006 @ 00:38 am

    One Down, Forty-Nine To Go

    Nice story of meeting, dating, and marrying….

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