I’d just asked my friend’s fiancé to describe her in three words (I’ll tell you all why in another post).
He told me. “Beautiful. Familiar. Extraordinary”
I pretty much died of romance.
When Mr K came home from work, I told him about it.
“’Familiar?’ That’s a word you’d use to describe your local Tesco’s”.
You know when you know better, but you just can’t help yourself?
Me: If you had to describe me in three words, what would they be?
Mr K: In what situation would I have to do that?
[just do it look]
Mr K: chirpy…
Mr K: and what is that word women always use to describe themselves in online dating profiles? Bubbly. Yes, bubbly.
Me: Chirpy, and bubbly? Of all the facets of my personality, you choose chirpy and bubbly? Which, by the way, mean the same thing?
Mr: And playful.
We aren’t like most couples I know. We don’t do date night. We don’t buy or make each other anniversary presents. We have very few photographs of us together (I was looking through old files to find a photograph suitable for this post, one that represented all that we mean to each other, and opened up “Kefalonia 2011”. There was one photograph in it, entitled “Goat in a tree”).
There isn’t a photograph that represents us, because marriage is a mess, really. It’s a tangled ball of wool that gets bigger and bigger over time, wool of different colours and textures and you try damn hard to unpick it, and sometimes you unknot it, and make a scarf, and feel pleased with yourself, and sometimes you mistakenly knot it even tighter and feel desperate.
I don’t have a photograph that represents our marriage, for this post. We don’t have a theme, and I can’t knit, anyway.
We got married five years ago today. I wrote an Any Other Photo after we got married, talking about how different we were. I don’t think either of us really knew what we were getting into, on that day, but that’s the point of getting married, isn’t it? You don’t know, but you hope. It’s a day of hope.
It’s easy to measure a marriage by the good days, looking through photographs. This is when we saw that sunset. This was the day we went to that place, and you wore that dress, and we saw that thing. This is the day we didn’t stop laughing. This is when you held our baby for the first time.
Marriage is really about the hours in the day. It’s the working of a big grandfather clock, and it’s not made up of the chimes on the hour every hour, it’s made up of the small, seemingly insignificant, seemingly monotonous ticking. Did you remember to put the bins out? You forgot to renew the council tax. How you talk to each other when you’re both at your wits’ end with tiredness. How you pick your battles. A nod of thanks. A look that says “thanks for letting this one go”. Who’s willing to apologise first. How gracefully you win.
But, without the ticking, the clock wouldn’t do its magic, it wouldn’t measure the time.
I got married because I believed in something bigger than just me. Five years ago I chose my husband because he held a mirror up to me; because he knew what I had been, what I was, and what I wanted to be and because he never flinched from the hard conversations, even when they were the last thing I wanted to hear. He hasn’t changed, in that respect.
He’ll never tell me why he married me; his love is not made up of perfect words and of snappy quotes for blog posts. Instead, it is made up of dogged persistence, of surprising kindness, of brutal honesty, and of an uncompromising belief in us. It is a tough love, sometimes, but you don’t get to cherry pick, when it comes to love. You take it all, every part that a person can give.
Happy anniversary, Mr K.