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Posts tagged ‘marriage’

Destiny’s grand design

We woke up to blazing sunshine yesterday, so decided to venture out to Riverhead with the mountain bikes.

“It’s going to rain, though,” predicted Andrew gloomily.

I ignored him, because:

a) Husband is a pessimist who often asserts things with no basis in reality or the NZ Met service; and
b) we’ve been together nearly 12 years (look, it would be virtually IMPOSSIBLE to pay attention to EVERYTHING that comes out of the man’s mouth) (although barf always gets my attention)

While I organised coffee to go, snacks, finances and dog balls, Andrew loaded the bikes on the back of the car.

As we trundled down the drive, tiny pricks of rain settled almost imperceptibly on the windscreen. Along Mountain Road it started drizzling in earnest, intensifying to rain with a definite spatter effect up Candia Road. By the time we reached Swanson, it looked like a blizzard outside.

We pulled up outside The Station Café and made a dash for it across the carpark; me with a couple of old magazines clamped to my head, Andrew using the dog to shield himself from the driving rain. Sitting miserably moist and lightly steaming over a couple of coffees, we agreed there was no point biking.

Driving home, the rain eased up, the sun sullenly emerged from behind the bank of clouds and, by the time we pulled into our drive, the elements were entirely agreeable. So we could have gone biking after all.

Evidently, the cosmos had other plans for Husband and me.

These plans being investigating the leaking differential on the Hilux, and lying on the sofa reading respectively.

Depressing that destiny’s plans for us are so pedestrian.

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The wedding: Róisín and Tim

I don’t know why, but that’s what they will always be. Róisín and Tim. Never Tim and Róisín, which would be as abnormal as a river flowing uphill, or having sex after marriage.

The cake: photo for my mum, who had no interest in the happy couple whatsoever, but issued strict and specific instruction to return with photos of the cake from 129,600 angles so that she can imagine it in full three dimensions. (Mum: 129,599 photos to follow.)

Considering we didn’t topple into bed until the wee hours, toppling out at 07:30hrs the following morning was a stunning effort, I felt. Since I wasn’t sure whether I’d get a sniff of lunch, I wanted to fortify myself with breakfast, before official bridesmaid duty commenced at 09:00hrs.

Afterwards, Husband reinstalled himself in bed and I went to see what sort of pre-wedding nerves were loose in Róisín’s suite.

The NASDAQ composite index fell 11% when our bouquets were delivered and Róis didn’t like hers – and while she was at it, she wasn’t mad keen on the bridesmaids’ either. Specifically, her bouquet was too ‘structured’ and didn’t feature enough foliage; while the remaining bunches were ‘too pink’.

Her sister and Maid of Honour, Fiona, and I were preparing to spruce up the bouquets with some branches hacked off the trees outside, until Róis let slip that the florist was based in the leisure centre in the hotel.

Róis would normally be the first to agree the relative unimportance of flowers in the scheme of things, so I assumed the shrieking – which was gaining in momentum – was a culmination of weeks of stress. Normally, I would have given Róis a lecture about the importance standing up for herself and regularly bestowing small, expensive gifts on her best friends; then booted her arse off to give the florist a piece of my mind.

However, since it was her wedding day, I gathered up the bouquets before the shrieking hit freefall and goose-stepped off to the florist with my hair in rollers.

“I’m a bridesmaid. The bitchy one,” I introduced myself.

The florist didn’t disagree.

Kylie’s Stylist spent about an hour gathering up Róisín’s hair and coiling strands into a fabulous confection at the back. It would have taken less time, except that every time Kylie’s Stylist was poised to pin a painstakingly twisted curl into place, Róis tossed her head around.

Róis is gorgeous anyway, but looked completely, unconditionally beautiful with her dress and makeup on (well, I was Kylie’s Stylist’s prototype, so she made all her mistakes on me). Pretty much everyone asks what the dress was like – so: it was off-white satin, with an artfully draped strapless bodice. Róis retained a dressmaker, who took in the skirt to better fit her lower body and ideally achieve a Grecian Goddess style effect which would make Tim quiver at the altar with suppressed and appropriately chaste desire. When I say she was radiant, bear in mind that I only resort to cliché when there is no viable alternative.

Tim looked all right. Waistcoat, cravat etc.

The ceremony was held in the Trinitarian Abbey in Adare, just outside Limerick. Even though they always do on telly or in film in real life, the Roman Catholic church errs on the side of caution by not asking whether anyone present has any cause or just impediment to these two persons should not be joined together in holy matrimony.

Róis had asked Fr Tommy whether she could include one of Kahlil Gibran’s writings, on marriage. The piece has special significance to Róis and her family, and she had introduced Tim to the writings of Kahlil Gibran early in their relationship – presumably when there was nothing on at the cinema – as you do. Tim didn’t know about the rearrangement, and I caught a wonderful little moment between the newly-about-to-be-weds when Róisín’s brother Adrian commenced the reading:-

Then Almitra spoke again and said,
And what of Marriage, master?
And he answered saying:
You were born together, and together you shall be for evermore.
You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.
Aye, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.
But let there be spaces in your togetherness.
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

Very lovely.

After the service, the rest of the 80 or so guests went to the pub while the wedding party posed for photos. Then everyone went back to the Woodlands Hotel, where the reception swiftly degenerated into drunken revelry involving seriously bad dancing

Model demonstrates drudge of marriage

The girlies: Fiona, Róisín, Trish, me

Róis pre wedded bliss

Some happy couple

Hereby awarded the bridesmaid’s official Seal of Approval

For some reason, I thoroughly enjoyed London City this time around. I lived there before relocating to the Middle East in 1998, and had fun because I was 24 and it wasn’t Ireland and I was earning my first salary that wasn’t fake money. But after two years I was glad to move on.

After nine months in the Middle East, I passed through London. I felt completely displaced. The city doesn’t ever really change, but I had. Whilst on the surface the sights and smells were familiar, fundamentally they were not.

Since then I’ve visited London once or twice a year. I catch up with friends, sit in a park, do some shopping (mainly window-based), and look forward to leaving.

This time, it felt different. London is the same: the ever present soundtrack of sirens and car horns and wheezing bus brakes; the smell of horse dung and the acrid aroma of lightly sautéed rubber; the menacing stalk of accountants armed with The Financial Times. It is still possible to feel absolutely alone in the swarming hordes of commuters.

The Tube may be a miracle of underground engineering, but it remains a grimy pit. You are tackled to the ground by charging bankers trying to make the closing doors, and you’re thinking: “DUDE! There’s another train in ONE MINUTE! It’s not like your entire day – or the REST OF YOUR LIFE which, let’s face it, is going to be empty and meaningless ANYWAY – will be ruined if you don’t make this one.” And you still don’t say it out loud because that would be quite unspeakably, dreadfully, quintessentially rude; although the sequence of events leading to your broken collarbone and a crisp packet in your hair is not.

(I nearly talked myself out of how much I dug London there, but don’t worry: I’m back on track now.)

As usual I stayed with Róisín, who lives in Clapham with her fiancée, Tim. The day after I arrived, I arranged to meet Róis at St Bart’s Hospital. She provided Irish directions, which don’t work that well outside our homeland, so I was armed with my trusty A-Z.

When I emerged from Bank Tube Station, London looked fabulous and the bells of St Mary-le-Bow were tolling. I wandered down Cheapside breathing in the fresh carbon monoxide and marvelling at the architecture. After nine months living in a wilderness, I was completely unused to such volumes of people, and stumbled around like a human skittle, grinning like a blithering idiot high on the joys of life. It took five minutes on average to cross from one side of the pavement to the other.

When I reached St Bart’s, I reached the centre of the hospital by way of an antiseptic labyrinth.  There is a small fountain in The Square, looking a bit shabby against a backdrop of scaffolding and skips. Yet as I sat on a cast iron bench mentally diagnosing passers by, with sparkles of sunshine playing on my face, I felt ridiculously and inexplicably pleased with myself.

Two days later I met my agent for lunch, then wandered through Regent’s Park: the Queen Mary’s Gardens, the Inner Circle and the boating lake. Then I sat under a tree wriggling my toes in the moist grass and deterring dogs from weeing on me (it’s easy as long as you don’t impersonate a lamppost).

My fabulous friend Róisín looks terrific and happier than I’ve seen her in years. Tim is terribly posh and rather English. Everything is ‘jolly good’, ‘quite so’ and ‘frightfully <insert choice of adjective of no less than four syllables, unless it is the word ‘shabby’>’. He always eats at the table, sits up straight, never talks with his mouth open and doesn’t throw food.

Róisín’s new yardstick for assessing people is Tim’s reaction to them. It quickly became apparent – to me, at least – that this unit of measurement is virtually useless because Tim likes EVERYBODY. His life closely resembles a musical. (I regret to say it often sounds like one too.)

Tim would almost be too good to be true, but for a sly sense of humour which is unexpected, bloodthirsty and occasionally vicious. Therefore, he is hereby awarded the bridesmaid’s official Seal of Approval

Chances are this is a building on Baker Street

Cheapside/Poultry

Door and mysterious package

My Precious

I lost my wedding ring on Sunday.

Six years ago, when Husband presented me with my engagement ring, he said:-

“Will you marry me? Oh, good. You’re going to lose this, aren’t you?”

I was sure I wouldn’t, because it was so pretty my very life force depended on the ongoing presence of this thing in my life. I can be impressed for minutes at a time by sunrises or ladybirds or a storm at sea or Husband’s cheeks when he’s eating lamb chops, but I can stare at a 0.55 carat H colour VSII Princess cut conflict diamond for HOURS.

Shortly after we married, I nearly lost my wedding rings at Ex-Employer’s office in Dubai Internet City. I went to the bathroom and removed both rings to wash my hands. Back in the office, I resumed compiling a nail bitingly tedious document on change request procedure, then paused to reread a paragraph. As I clasped my hands together to better aid concentration, I became aware at a subliminal level there was something very wrong in the world in addition to evil dictators and global poverty. Then I realized:-

“AAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaagh!”

Much to the bemusement of my three colleagues, I catapulted out of my chair, hurdled the desk, and ripped out the door screaming all the way to the bathroom where my rings glittered reprovingly in the soap dish. I’m not sure whether anyone had been there in the twenty minute interim – in Dubai, many people are too lazy to go to the toilet – but still.

After that, I resolved never to remove my wedding rings; I even wore them swimming in the sea.

My engagement ring is currently out of action, having split after a period of intense digit expansion, but I always wear my wedding band. On Sunday morning, I was pottering around the kitchen cleaning up before the guys woke. The Bro had stayed over the evening before, so there were beer bottle tops all over the place. I have ranted about bottle tops before, so I will spare you- ok, no, I won’t. THERE’S A RUBBISH BIN! RIGHT THERE! WHAT IS SO COMPLEX ABOUT FLIPPING BOTTLE TOPS INTO IT, HMM?

Sorry. So, my wedding ring was irritating me for some reason – although not as much as the mess DO YOU NEED TO BE A WORLD CLASS ARCHER OR TIDDLYWINKS CHAMPION TO GET A BOTTLE TOP INTO A BIN?! IT’S LIKE HITTING A HIPPO WITH A SHOE! – so I transferred it to the little finger of my right hand. Even as I did, I thought, ‘Hmm. That’s not going to stay there,’ and then ignored myself.

It was after The Bro left that I noticed my wedding ring – gone. My ring finger looked plainly wrong without it. There is a pale groove worn around the base of the finger where the skin is puckered and defenceless looking.

I alerted Husband as to the situation.

“Will you look for it?”

Husband nearly choked on a gigantic sigh, but he performed a sweep of the living and kitchen sectors while I repeatedly checked that I hadn’t misplaced the ring on my finger. There was no sign of it – on my finger or anywhere else.

“I’m sure it will turn up,” said Husband and shuffled off to not obsess about where the ring might be.

Throughout the day, I looked in all the obvious places: the kitchen bench, the key hanger, under the sofa, in the microwave. I kept visualising the ring in different places, with the result that I checked the cutlery drawer and kitchen windowsill several times (maybe THIS TIME it will be there). In the evening, I turned the rubbish out onto the garage floor and picked through it with a fork.

On Monday morning, I put Husband at Defcon 3, increasing to Defcon 2 as the day wore on. We tore the house apart. I moved everything out of the pantry; we checked the drains; Husband squeezed the fingers on my rubber gloves; we crawled around the floor with torches.

I had a vague recollection of leaving the wedding ring on the hallway banister. Late last night, Husband revealed that he had vacuumed the stairs on Sunday morning. There had been debris on the treads after he had knocked a couple of holes in the wall. No idea why. Because he could? Maybe? But really, you’d have to ask him.

He offered to go through the vacuum bag this morning in daylight. I knew that’s what had happened to my ring; in fact, I was so sure I actually slept last night.

It wasn’t in the vacuum bag.

Then Husband went through the week-old rubbish. We’ve been together over 10 years now and Husband drives me up the wall on a frequent to full time basis. However, there are rare, brilliant moments when I understand exactly why I am with Husband. Watching him sift coffee grounds, turn over greasy chop bones and wipe rotten spinach off mouldy lemons without complaint, I had one of those epiphanies.

On the other hand, I’m not sure I was his favourite wife at that point.

It wasn’t in the rubbish either.

Back upstairs, I got a bit teary:-

“Tell me you love me and the wedding ring is just a symbol in no way indicative of the future of our marriage and it’s not as if you even wear yours and the fact that I’ve lost something that’s blessed won’t curse us for the rest of time forever and ever amen.”

“Er, yes. All that,” said Husband. “Look, we’ll get another ring and get your father to bless it.”

“Yeah, but he’ll give me a lecture on how he can’t go around blessing every time I lose my wedding ring,” I muttered darkly, “and how I should be more careful-”

“Well-”

“Are you sure you want to go there?”

“Absolutely not. No.”

Then I found the ring in the plastic bag drawer

Relationship by phone

Yesterday Husband bought two telephones for NZ$ 100 on Trademe. I have no idea how to use either. It’s not that big a deal because Husband walks around with one clipped to his belt – I know it’s embarrassing, but what can I do? He says it’s ‘handy’ – and I can never find the other, usually because Husband’s sitting on it.

These days, when Husband wants to speak to me, he calls me from his office.

“Hello,” he’ll say. “Is that Niamhie?”

“Speaking.”

“It’s Husband here.”

“I KNOW, I can hear you up the stairs.”

Our relationship appears to be following the same route as Internet dating, only in reverse. Soon we will communicate entirely via telephone or MSN and won’t have to see each other at all

Relationship, for want of a better word

Just before Christmas, Salmiya invited us to lunch at her house. Salmiya was originally a friend of Andrew’s – she was at the party where we first met – but over the years we lost touch.

Some of this was due to her marriage to Ulf about four years ago. At the time, Salmiya and I were fairly close and she called to break the happy news. I had no idea she was even going out with someone. She had been acquainted with Ulf for roughly three months, give or take a day.

I knew she was bound to marry him regardless of anything I said, so I wished her all the best and pounded a steady percussion on Andrew’s eardrum about ‘what is she THINKING?’ (During these one-sided conversations I often referred to her as ‘the girl’, so there you have an idea how much I disapproved.)

Salmiya took to confiding really rather salient details about her and Ulf’s sex life. I’m not used to discussing length, girth, stamina, flexibility and centiliters, so I found it all very stressful. Going around to their place for a barbie was particularly difficult; it was near impossible to maintain polite conversation while Ulf handed around the sausages.

Occasionally I would complain to Andrew about Salmiya’s X-rating, and he used to say things like, “Look, Niamhie, she’s a nice person.”

As if that closed the matter.

One day I phoned Andrew at work:

“Hi honey, it’s me. Just been chatting with Salmiya and I thought you might like to know, she and Ulf had sex last night. Apparently, he came home from work a bit frisky so he groped her for a while beside the fridge and one thing led to another and they moved on to the bedroom. Then Ulf suffered a spot of – I believe the correct term is ‘erectile dysfunction’ – so Salmiya did a sexy dance for him using the bed post as a prop. They opted for the missionary position, but Salmiya went on top for the grand finale.”

There was silence for a moment, then:

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Well, if I have to put up with it, I really don’t see WHY YOU SHOULDN’T TOO.”

Interestingly, Andrew never exhorted me to call her again. No doubt he was worried about the psychological trauma of subsequent barbeques.

About two years ago, I bumped into Salmiya again. She had broken up with Ulf. It transpired he was an alcoholic, which explained why much of their sex life featured erectile dysfunction and sexy dancing. He had also had numerous affairs DESPITE the erectile dysfunction and sexy dancing.

Thereafter Salmiya and I met up sporadically. One night she mentioned an Aussie bloke she’d met the previous weekend. Seemed he was quite keen, but she was not so sure. He also lived in Oman, so the relationship – for want of a better word – was already emitting acrid smoke and what sounded suspiciously like a fizzle.

A couple of months later, I received a text message from Salmiya which read: ‘Am pregnant with Oman guy’s baby and getting married next month’.

I called her to clarify that it was at least the father of her baby she was marrying. I don’t know whether this helps explain anything whatsoever, but unmarried mothers are not allowed to remain in the UAE.

The girl did not use a condom. Obviously, neither did The Boy – but then he didn’t end up incubating a foetus.

Sorry, do I sound prim?

Well, good for me.

So she married Dave (she learned his name when she went to sign the marriage certificate).

Shortly afterwards, we had a hilarious conversation – well it made me laugh – where Salmiya was talking about purchasing a house in preparation for the arrival of the baby. Dave wanted to go halves with her. She said to me, 

“But I’m not sure. I mean, I hardly know him.”

I said: “Salmiya, you’re MARRIED to The Man.”

So ANYHOW, we were invited around to their place for lunch.

But it wasn’t really that interesting

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