The Northern Lights

Allow me to explain what will happen as you read today’s post. The introductory paragraph will make your heart swell, your soul sing and your eyes water with joy; such is the romance and passion in Lara’s description of her surroundings. Then, if you’re anything like me, you’ll snort-laugh your tea through your nose and she takes us back to the trauma of the Sixth Form Common Room. *Shudder*

And then you’ll simply be happy and nodding in total agreement and solidarity, for Lara describes with wit and astonishing self-awareness the nonsense we women put ourselves through as we wait the take ‘the next step’ in our relationships. 

But then, you should probably read it for yourself…just to make sure.

Arms wrapped around each other, we stand motionless on the snow-covered pier. The snowflakes have retreated into a pale haze, obscuring large swathes of the night sky, with stars visible in veiled patches. The fallen crystals have transformed the entire world around us, slowing the pulse of the ocean below to a frozen echo and lending a soft magic to the trees behind. The boundaries of beach and forest are blurred by the frosty coating and the sounds of the nearby town are stilled.  The moment is one of absolute harmony, a rare sensation of complete contentment with the world. He turns to me, his eyes glowing with love, and begins a speech which culminates in the question, “Will you marry me?”. I feel the emotion surge through my body, pushing upwards in a desire to expel itself as a loud declarative “YES” but then I pause. My head tilts to the side and my eyebrows edge downwards into an almost frown. I look at him accusingly and say “Is this because of what I said earlier?!?”

Six years and three days previously, a heartfelt question from his 18 year old self is met by a similarly unexpected response from me. I am standing next to the watercooler in the school common room. He walks up to me with a nod and his usual greeting, ” ‘Sup?”. I offer my usual response, “Ceiling” (oh the wit). I can tell he is about to ask me out. It’s not really a surprise seeing as I asked him out two days earlier when we were chatting online and he said no but that he wanted to do it himself. I joked that I might say no. He said that he wouldn’t blame me as he’d been taking his time about it.

See, we had kissed 18 days earlier (not that I was counting) after months of impatience (me), outrageous flirting (also me, that boy was oblivious!), and assurances that he liked me from his best friends (see previous bracket re the oblivious thing, he gave absolutely NO reaction, I could have sworn he had the emotions of a stone). In his defence, he had been hospitalised in the interim for over a week due to a mystery virus, leading to one very awkward hospital visit where our friends conspired to leave us alone for him to ask me out. One member of the group did not get the rather obvious hints to follow the rest out and had to be “fetched” a couple of minutes later on another pretence much to the friend’s obvious confusion. Needless to say, I didn’t get asked out that day. As he later put it, “Why they’d think I’d want to ask you out whilst I was practically naked in a hospital gown with a tube sticking out of my neck is a complete puzzle to me”.

Anyway, so as we are standing at the watercooler, I feel a multitude of eyes on us and I know he is going to ask me out. I suggest we move somewhere else so we head to the stairwell.  He (very nervously) asks me out. I say no. He looks devastated. I laugh in surprise and then say yes, along the way apparently babbling about vampires (I do not remember this conversation at all but he assures me this happened although conveniently the details are vague). We grow older and perhaps wiser together as boyfriend and girlfriend until he asks me to marry him six years later in Norway.

I suspected that he would propose from the moment he told me that he was taking me on a secret anniversary trip months before hand (although I worked out the location of the trip after one day of suspense by asking a single question, and no, it wasn’t “Where are we going?”). Every year we go away for our anniversary in February but we always plan it together and share the costs. This year he was also insisting on paying for it all from his savings. I mentioned my suspicions to a couple of my close friends (cue them jumping up and down in glee and me going “I’m not sure, I didn’t say he would, just that he might“). Then when spending some time over Christmas with his family, his mother and sisters started asking me about marriage so naturally this led on to me telling them too. As it got closer to the trip, I became worse at accidentally telling people (or better at accidentally telling people, depending on how you look at it). It spilled out of me at the slightest provocation, I was like a pot of unwatched water boiling over the sides….I started to get nervous- what if he didn’t propose? I wouldn’t have minded for myself, we’d discussed marriage and knew it was something we wanted in the future concluding that it was best to be sensible about it and wait until it was practical, but now the weight of other people’s expectations was wearing me down. I was worried about being unfair to him- what if he had just wanted to make our 6 year anniversary special and I ruined the trip because I made it into something it wasn’t? I didn’t want to be ungrateful or disappointed or make him feel inadequate or upset. Oh, why had I told so many people? I had visions of coming home and having to hire a plane to skywrite “NO HE DIDN’T PROPOSE, STOP BLOODY ASKING ME ABOUT IT!” which probably would have been expensive and elicited further questioning anyway. I resolved to stop talking or thinking about it (well, as much as humanly possible) and to do my utmost to enjoy the trip for what it was- a celebration of us being together for 6 years and a chance to see the Northern Lights.


Categories: Becoming A Wife
21 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Carly
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    This is great Lara. My fiancé proposed to me by taking me on a surprise trip to New York, he didn’t even tell me we were going away until 3 days before! This is the man who has never booked even a meal as a surprise so I was suspicious straight away! We had also been together for 6 years and everyone was telling me that he was going to propose. I secretly thought he would too but I told everyone that he wouldn’t because I couldn’t bare returning home with a naked left hand! Thank God he did because when we landed I had abou 20 texts asking me if he had!

    On another note, I would love to see the Northern Lights. Are they as beautiful as people say?


    • Lara Blue
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

      Ha ha, that was probably the sensible option. With me it just got out of control, but it was fine in the end!
      They were amazing, but in Part 2, I’ll try to describe them. Try. It will be tough! x

  2. Katielase
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    Love this. Lara, you write so brilliantly. And it’s SO TRUE. I know the expectations of others shouldn’t really have any bearing on your relationship, but it’s so hard to pull free of them, tell the world to get lost, and simply be the two of you, on your journey, as you are. Particularly if, like me, you just like to talk to people about stuff. I have totally had that ‘bubbling pot’ issue before, sharing news that I’m not meant to be sharing just yet. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that it can be more special to share a moment with one person than to talk about it and share it vicariously with many!

    Finally, unbelievably jealous that you’ve seen the Northern Lights. It’s top of the things I want to see/do before I die. Was it completely amazing?!


    • Lara Blue
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

      I am definitely a sharer and like to talk about things with my close friends. And when you have quite a few close friends (a blessing and a curse ha ha) then even attempts at being moderately closemouthed don’t work out so well! I’m good at keeping other people’s secrets, just rubbish at keeping my own!
      It was a lifelong dream to see them and part of the reason why I guessed so quickly where he was taking me! But yes, they were incredible. I try to do them justice in Part 2 xx

  3. Sarah
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    So beautifully written! Fantastic proposal story Lara xx

  4. Pickle
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 10:01 am | Permalink

    Can I nominate Lara to be the new AOW Bride-to-be if there isn’t one already? Your writing’s brilliant Lara!

    If you think expectations (yours and other peoples) around proposals are bad I can almost guarantee that planning a wedding will take it to a whole new level…

    • Yanthé
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      Seconded! This is brilliant.

      • Lara Blue
        Posted October 29, 2012 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

        Aaw thanks you two, that’s lovely. We are actually already married now- a mere 7 months after the proposal during which we submitted a dissertation each and I spent 7 weeks out of the country!
        I found the expectations surrounding the wedding and during wedding planning easier to deal with actually and considering it, I think it is because with the proposal it was just me facing them whereas with wedding planning it was us together. xx

  5. Posted October 29, 2012 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    I’m the person who did think a proposal was imminent, and told people, then had to wait 3 years for it! Haha

    Can’t wait for part 2, great writing Lara!

    • Lara Blue
      Posted October 29, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      Oh no! I want to hear this story now…. :)

  6. Posted October 29, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    This is really, really lovely Lara. I’m super jealous that you’ve seen the Northern Lights but mostly just sitting with a weird misty look on my face from the romance of it all! x

  7. PiriyaP
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    So beautiful. I love a good story about childhood sweethearts x

  8. Posted October 29, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    What a great start to a Monday morning – I totally needed that! I’m, like the others, totally jealous of your having seen the Northern Lights, but total kudos to your man for pulling off such an amazing proposal!

  9. Roz
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Loving your writing Lara! And really loving this story. I will join the list of people who are jealous over your trip to see the Northern Lights xx

  10. Posted October 29, 2012 at 1:39 pm | Permalink

    Am I missing something? Why does it stop? What did you say earlier?? Is there a Part 2?! Was reading and loving your writing and the story you were telling so I do hope so! xx

  11. Lara Blue
    Posted October 29, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

    Thank you all so much. I cannot tell you how much your kind words have been appreciated. I was so nervous about this as it is my first ever post and the first non-academic/admin-related writing I have done for years bar personal emails….
    I am writing part two right now, mostly spurred on by the nice comments here and on twitter.
    Yes I describe what it’s like to see the Lights. I tell you “what I said earlier” and also what happened after that…there is snow-related tomfoolery and an incredible view. As for the rest, you’ll have to wait and see :) I don’t know when there will be space in the schedule for it though but if you follow me on twitter, I’m sure I’ll mention it! :)

  12. Posted October 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    So jealous!! I want to see the Northern Lights and what an amazing proposal.

    I ruined mine by being a grumpy bitch and not going where I was supposed to go because I was tired and it was raining but he’d already told my dad and sisters that was the day so asked anyway!

    SOooooOoOoOoO JEALOUS!

    Is that your photo on the bottom???

    • Siobhan
      Posted October 30, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

      I ruined ours by being sick – but it was better for it in the end!

    • Lara Blue
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Permalink

      This happens a lot from what I’ve heard. Mostly it seems to be that the other half has decided on a place (commonly up a mountain/hill/cliff) and that a specific day will be THE DAY regardless of weather or other person’s mood/state of health….it makes for funny stories though! :)
      And no, it’s not my photo. We actually didn’t get one as I told him to put the camera away when he got it out and to just enjoy the moment instead. It was a wise move too as other people had only just finished getting their cameras and tripods set up when we had to leave (we were on a coach journey) and they complained that they hadn’t seen it!

2 Trackbacks

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    [...] forward to Christmas time.  I accidentally tell his family and mine that I think he is going to propose on our anniversary trip …. A dress discussion follows and I look up the Oxfam website on my phone to show them the silken [...]

  • By The Northern Lights {Part the Second} on February 12, 2013 at 7:06 am

    [...] been a whole THREE months since we posted The Northern Lights {part 1}, but I’m fairly certain that not one of you who read it can have forgotten the pure [...]

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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