"I love you, I love you, I love you"
"Maybe we should get married and move to country England?"
These probably sound like the sentiments of people who've known each other for a while, right? Figured out a little bit about each other. Got to know each other pretty well and worked out that hanging out together in a marriage might be a good option.
As crazy as it may sound, we'd only spent four days when we made these declarations to each other.
A series of events had pulled us together - strange events that I could track back in time about 6 years when I'd met an English guy travelling round Australia and reconnected to him - it was this friend's girlfriend who'd invited me down to Somerset when I'd ended up in London for the second time. She'd organised tickets to see a band at Glastonbury, and we were having drinks at her girlfriend's place. Turns out this girlfriend was J's sister. In a million years, Claire says, I would never had thought you and him would be married. Not in a million years.
The 'I love yous' were whispered on a cold morning at Claire's by the sea in Dorset, after hangover drinks and a day on the coast with about ten of us having a solstice dinner. We'd snuggled up under the covers on this new morning, the second night after this after our chance meeting (please don't moralise). We looked at each other and it was okay. Crazy, but okay. The 'I love yous' were rattling around in our heads so loudly they were going to make each other explode if we didn't say them.
The hesistant yet daring 'maybe we should...' came on the third day, which was a fortnight later. I'd gone up to Scotland, promised I'd be back, but somehow he'd given me the wrong number, and all he had to go on was the fact I'd mentioned I'd be in Brighton on New Year's Day on the 5 pm train come hell or high water. Turns out high water was what we got - floods in the north made the train four hours late and I didn't even know he'd be there. Nor did he - without a car, he had to convince friends to pub crawl until my train came in. He'd checked everyone from 5 pm and mine was the last he was gonna wait for. It was silly - we both dropped our bags and flew into each other's arms like some black and white war movie. Against the odds, we'd found each other.
On January 2nd, drinking whiskey macs in a Surrey pub after walking his dog, we made plans for our future together. I still remember the light catching the shards of ice as we skimmed them across the cold fields and Rosie skidding happily to catch them. They say the clearest memories are the ones you are emotionally impacted by, and my heart was about fit to burst as I held my lover's warm hand and the close pale sky spoke of soft dreams and love. To this day we're not sure who proposed the marriage idea - it was out of sync for both of us, given I had vowed never to get married and both of us had many affairs that either ended badly or were merely bright sparks in haloed days where connections to others via flesh and hearts were just par for the course.
Yet here we were.
I guess impulsiveness is okay when we look back on the years and think that had you not made that giant leap, we would not have ended up where we are, happily in love after seventeen years of togetherness. How many lives have been made in snap decisions? In taking a chance? When your heart says leap, you either do it or you rationalise it for far too long and regret the missed opportunity. Both of our hearts leapt.
In this photo, J. is grinning because he'd made a promise he'd make it snow for me before I went back to Australia. I woke up in the truck in the morning to him shaking me. I told you I'd make it snow, he said.
Yet in that moment, in that part of the world, my home was thousands of kilometres and a whole lotta ocean away from this man I'd fallen in love with from the first moment he walked into the room. I also had a 4 year old kid who was with his father in London for the weekend. The fact I had a child didn't seem to bother him at all - he was far too besotted with me, so any child of mine was bound to be amazing too. Walking back from that cozy pub, he picked me up a piece of dark stone, flint like, and full of tiny white flecks like stars. Here, he said. I give you the universe. And I was gone.
He left me at the train station in Brighton and hugged me and said he'd see me in 6 months. I had some miles to go before we could enact this plan, but it seemed do-able - I mean, distance means nothing when you have a universe in your pocket. I travelled with my little boy across Asia, drank beer listening to roots reggae on my discman and dreamt of my lovers arms around me. We are in the same infinite space, he said, and I felt this intently.
Back in Australia, I told everyone my plans as I saved another plane ticket and sold what little I had to get back to the man I thought was the love of my life. Most people thought I was crazy, irresponsible. How could I take my boy to the other side of the world, away from his family and everyone he knew? My beautiful parents were supportive. We just want you to be happy, they said, and he seems like a good man and you seem pretty passionate about him. When I left that town in which I grew up, I lost contact with most people that just couldn't fathom the journey I was on and where my life would take me. It seems odd in retrospect.
But damn, the sparks. You can't ignore sparks.
This photo to me is the marker between the me I used to be and the me I became, half way between two worlds, dreaming of a man I hardly knew.
It took me four months to get back to England - months of texts and quite a few freak outs and an 800 dollar phone bill. I had 3000 Australian dollars in my pocket, two suitcases and my little one when I arrived, and J. had a truck (in which he lived) and 90 pounds. None of these details were important in the face of us wanting to be together. I remember sitting in his truck reading the Friday Ads looking for a car on the first day of our reunion and feeling incredibly nervous. We didn't leave the truck in the end for a week (luckily my boy was at his Dad's in London - a blessing the way things turned out when I look at it now).
Within six months, we were standing on the Clifton suspension bridge in Bristol freaking out. We'd gone looking for an engagement ring and had found one in an antique shop. We were doing this thing and were suddenly terrifed. I was looking at him wondering whether I loved him at all - what the hell was I doing, marrying a man I'd only known for six months? Was this real? A bottle of wine and some Spanish tapas and a lot of conversation about the fact we could walk away at any moment made things okay, and there it was - the ring on my finger, the prospect of married life. The girl who swore she'd never tie herself to any man was suddenly bound.
Six months after than, we were married.
We've been together 16 years.
We still look at each other in wonder and think: how did we know? How on earth did we know?
What is the most impulsive thing you've done?
Did it turn out for the best?
This reflection is in response to the @ecotrain question of the week, which is less of a question and more of a 'finish this sentence'. @eco-alex's sentence began....
Read the post guidelines here, and have some fun! It's certainly an open 'question' and you're free to take it in any direction you want. I'd love to read your stories too, so feel free to tag me, otherwise, use the tage #ecotrain and I'll try to hunt them down.