Tuesday, 17 April 2012

My Ring (and why I didn't need one).

On Saturday I finally collected my engagement ring from the jewellers. It's funny how I suddenly feel much more engaged (if there is a spectrum of being engaged, that is), and how I'm no longer slightly awkward when people look at my finger in expectation when they find out I'm getting married.

Equally, I feel quite conscious of the fact that there is a diamond on my finger, and that how somehow it isn't really 'me'; the beautiful glass owl pendant that Daniel bought me as an engagement gift is much more to my taste - I'm more beads than diamonds, that's for sure!

The ring and the finger it sits on is such a solid symbol, and when it comes to these marriage symbols - many of which are rather expensive and often quite derogatory on the woman's part - I am conscious that the whole matter of a wedding might need some serious consideration, in order for us to do it right, and with sincerity.

But, I am wearing a ring on the fourth finger of my left hand, and I am incredibly proud to be doing so. Not only because of what it means to Daniel and me, but also what it means to carry around on my person a tiny, sparkling reminder of so many amazing things, some which I witnessed, and some which I didn't.

When Daniel decided he was going to propose, he had to bear the terror that is asking my Dad. You see, when my Gran died she left her engagement ring to me, and I had been determined ever since that, if I were ever to wear a diamond, this would be the one I would wear - somehow Daniel had to retrieve this, and the story of how he did it is wonderful and sweet and makes me love him and my Dad and everyone else all the more.

So, when he asked me on that beautiful sunny day on York city walls, he presented me (fully standing, I might add - he's too tall to consider trying to get smoothly down onto one knee when also jittering with nerves) with a ring that I had already seen so many times throughout my childhood. On my Gran's finger as we baked scones in her kitchen, as she cooked me meals and brought me croissants and cereal in bed on the amazing weekends that we spent at her house. When she taught me to play cards and read me stories, when we danced in her kitchen and played tennis in her garden. The ring was there the whole time. The back of the shank of the ring was worn down from sitting between her other rings for so many years; a reminder of the hours of work her hands put in to bringing up her own children, and then caring so wonderfully for her Grandchildren when we were ill, in need of a home for the weekend, or just in search of fun and good company.

Looking at the ring now, I imagine my Grandad, just returned home from Egypt after the war (and still, I realise now, so incredibly young), presenting it to my Gran. It marks the promise of many secure and peaceful years together after six years of war. It represents the start of my family as I know it,and of a love that grew into the comfortable marriage that I loved to nestle in amongst as a child: my Grandad sitting in the garden watching the birds, my Gran bringing out his tea on a tray so he could stay outside at every opportunity. Their unquestioning routines and devotion to one another that I know now was the perfect mix of love, life experience and friendship. I'm planning for nothing more than this combination in my own life with Daniel, and I'm hoping that this ring will be around for many more stories and lifetime wear and tear to come.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

This Weekend I am Loving...

...running in the rain with my husband-to-be. So delightfully fun to be soaking wet and covered in mud with the man of your dreams. To splash in puddles and be carefree about speed, distance and everything else. To arrive home dripping wet and ready for a hot shower, followed by soup and buttery toast. After a poorly week where I didn't go running once, this was the best way to jump in with a literal 'splash' and remember that energy is a gift to be taken seriously!

...wedding fever! I finally got my engagement ring (more on that to follow, I think), and we have found the perfect venue that knows about vegetarian weddings, vegan weddings, coeliac weddings and the best seasonal local produce. Plus oak beams, an open fire and local ale on tap - my heart is set!

...this pizza. Oh my! I have never cooked with gruyere myself, nor have I ever been experimental enough to move from the traditional tomato sauce base, but this was one of those meals during which the conversation rarely moved from how delicious the meal was. Homemade pizza and a fresh salad with homemade dressing - perfect end to a perfect day.

...sitting until drink-up time in our pub, the pub that I pined for constantly during our brief hiatus from York. The first real and not-ill weekend demanded a visit, and we warmed by the open fire and drank our drinks slowly (I am pretty much alcohol-free these days and can't take much!). It is nice to see how things change, but equally nice to feel at home in its familiarity.

...slow riverside walks. I am practising walking slowly, arm-in-arm with Daniel, and taking in the whole world as I go. The river is the perfect place to find space and peace, as well as being a prime spot for people watching and whiling away an hour. I have missed these walks and I didn't even realise until I got them back again.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Back Home

Thank you for all the lovely well wishes following the two recent counts of exciting news! Life is really outdoing itself at the moment, and I actually have so much news that it would explode my computer screen to type it all out, so I am saving individual snippets for appropriate posts at later dates.

But yes, we are home again. Home in a slightly skewed, boxed up and stressful sense, but home it really is. I mentioned in my list of new year's resolutions that I hoped to buy a house this year, and, just like that, we did!

Of course, I didn't just wake up on January 1st and decide that I might buy a house in the next 12 months; we'd been exploring the idea for a while, and had even gone to a town that we thought we might like in order to scope out a few potential homes. It didn't turn out to be the location of our dreams, so we put it on hold for a while.

Then, on 27th December last year, Daniel came to visit me at my parents' over Christmas. We went out for a walk through local fields; everything was grey - the sky, the weather, our moods. We admitted to each other that moving away from York hadn't worked out; we were both so homesick and missing friends and the community that we had so loved in our old little house. So we decided to do it. We checked on the web, found a couple of houses, and arranged some viewings.

We fell in love with the second house that we saw. It was ramshackle, small and just as quirky as I had imagined my home would always be. We went home to have a think, and arranged another viewing plus a comaparitive viewing of a second house for the next weekend.

The following weekend, the first weekend in February, it was bitterly cold. We stood outside the comparison house waiting for the estate agent to arrive, chilled to the bone and rather gloomy. He arrived and let us in, and I knew pretty much right away that this was it - the first house that we loved paled in comparison. Now, two months later, I am sitting in my pyjamas on my couch in the living room that I viewed on that freezing and uncomfortable day. Only three months after we admitted our discomfort and frustration, we became homeowners of a house that matches my dreams exactly. There is something to be learned from that.

I'll never forget rushing to a restaurant in the snow to meet my parents for lunch, the urgency to get there and make that phone call. York was freezing cold and beautiful, and the snow fell faster to match the excitement and pace of the afternoon. By the time our lunch arrived we had made an offer, and we sat awkwardly - I couldn't taste my food - waiting for a confirmation. I have become accustomed to things going wrong and not working out, and I was so sure that this would be the same. 

But here we are. Our furniture is quasi-arranged, our lives are starting to unfold again after a few days of boxed-up living. The radio is out and I have cooked a couple of decent meals in the new kitchen (despite having no working fridge (thank goodness for the cold spell!) and no functional oven). We have a sheet covering the bedroom window as a curtain, and we have to hurdle over a stack of boxes every time we leave the front door. But I get the beautiful riverside walks every day, the long city runs through bustling crowds, the people watching, the sounds and smells of the place that really is my home. We are bridging the life we left behind here with a new life of optimism and stability; I am excited to revisit selected aspects of the past, and build new bits of life to bolster it for the future.