Last summer my brother, who emigrated to New Zealand about 10 years ago, said he and his family were thinking of a trip (his first) back to Blighty in 2013. As I cogitated this announcement, it occurred to me that the likelihood of him coming over once for a holiday, and then again a year or so later for a wedding, was very slim. So on a hot sunny day, after a lovely swim in the Thames, I mentioned to DH (who of course isn’t DH, but father of my children so a bit more than just a BF) that if we were to get married, it would be very nice to have brother and family there, and 2013 was probably the only time they’d be in the northern hemisphere this decade.
DH acknowledged that he had received the information and had stored it. I swear I only mentioned 2-3 more times, honest, over the rest of the year. We had my 40th birthday. We had Christmas & New Year. We had his birthday. We had Valentine’s Day. All passed very nicely but with No Action on the Proposal front*. There was the odd perusal of jewellers’ windows, and the magazine with the ad containing my dream ring was left open for days at a time in the bathroom. Finally, on 25th March, we’d arranged to go into London to celebrate exactly 5 years since our First (blind) Date. As this had been my idea I wasn’t thinking much of it, and indeed it very nearly didn’t happen at all as
- DH had a work crisis, which he ended by saying very sternly ‘No more calls after 6pm’
- Babysitting cover went wrong, resulting in us having to cajole my sick mother over once the DS’s were in bed (which meant in turn that we only had about 2 hours in London to revisit a pub, have dinner, and have a ceremonial snog).
- I announced that if I didn’t go for a run that morning the whole evening was going to be off.
Thankfully I managed to stir my limbs and stagger out for my inaugural joggette; made ultra meaningful in retrospect when I saw two great-crested grebes engaged in their wedding dance as the mist lifted from the river.
So off we trotted into town that evening, not feeling HUGELY gorgeous; in the rush to get the boys to bed I’d forgotten to put any mascara on, and in my lardy, nothing-to-wear state I was wearing a denim maternity skirt. I hadn’t given the proposal a moment’s thought, until as we were going up an escalator at Oxford Circus, I put my arm round DH and felt something square in his jacket pocket.
The next 20 minutes passed in a haze of me swearing to myself (not sure why, I was hardly going to say ‘no’), trying to convince myself he had a hard corner on his wallet or phone, and trying to act normally (but I couldn’t think of anything at all to say). We walked past Debenhams’ wedding window, and where usually I would have dawdled, we marched past in absolute silence, eyes firmly ahead. At the pub where we first met, we were once again only the 2nd and 3rd people in it (and yet it’s Saturday night, 3 minutes’ walk from Oxford Street. Bizarre), but we had a massive glass of wine each and that sorted the nerves out. And anyway nothing happened.
Dinner, bottle of bubbly (nice). Nothing happened.
Walk past my old flat (again instigated by me). By this point we were both a bit drunk, and when we stopped on the pavement for a quick kissette, I couldn’t believe it when DH suddenly disappeared onto one knee, and said something lovely (not repeated here, partly as it’s private, and partly because I can’t remember the exact wording) and asked me to marry him. Once again I messed up by saying “Are you sure?” which I had sworn to myself I would NEVER EVER say if I was lucky enough to be asked, as it just smacks of insecurity and desperation, but out it came. Thankfully, DH was sobbing so much I don’t think he heard me. I do remember him blubbing out ‘I didn’t think this would happen to me’, which at the time I interpreted as not lucky enough to marry a mascara-less, fat tummied gorgeous woman such as you, but actually meant crying like a baby.
And then we beetled off to get the last train home. With The Ring on my finger.
The next two weeks were very weird; almost all of my friends are married and I have been party to many conversations about proposals, weddings, guest lists, and plans – but it was exceedingly odd to be on the other side. Thankfully things have now calmed down, and a few months on, Being Engaged feels like a totally natural and lovely state of affairs.
Although my mother-in-law-to-be having already bought her dress is freaking me out a little bit… The Dress. Ahh, that’s another story.
* Of course I could have asked him. But I didn’t want to.