Welcome to Marry Land

Most couples make it out on a date night once in a while. For many couples we know with kids, date night is an essential ingredient to remaining connected, and happily married.

For us, my husband and I, date night comes but once a year; our anniversary. It’s enough of an excuse to ring in a willing family member to take the kids. We savour our together time without kids, melting into each other’s company, and feeling 31 & 22 respectively, the age we were when we met, and fell in love.

This year, we are ten years married. And even better than making it a full decade, our anniversary fell on Friday the 13th. Thirteen has somehow been our lucky number.

A few babysitters fell through. We eventually lined something up. I prepared a surprise Adventure of Love through the hinterland, which all centred on me getting dressed into my wedding dress, and buying champagne while Gregor took kids down the road to friends.

Trouble was, Rosie was onto me, and refused to go. She could sense something fun was happening, and didn’t want to miss out. When I whispered the plan into both my daughters’ sweet little ears, they banded together, and decided that neither would be babysat. They were coming with us.

And so we went. Our date-day of the year, encumbered with two {delightful} darlings.

First stop – the place we married, ten years ago today, out the front of God’s fine Eureka abode, looking over the rolling hills.

As it turned out, having two {delightful} darlings made the occasion even more perfect, because, as they pointed out, they missed our actual wedding.

Little Rosie named our wedding place Marry Land. In Marry Land, snakes get married, the wedded couple dance, and we all climb frangipani trees.

I remember most details of our ceremony ten years ago, up to the feel of the wind whipping our hair.

What I didn’t remember was the ancient frangipani tree, which turned out to be the perfect place to sit under ten years later, in a bed of fallen flowers, with flowers in our hair, drinking champagne. The girls made a treasure hunt out of  flowers. We took slo mo movies of us kissing.

Marry Land was better than I remember. Maybe it was because our daughters were there this time too.

Next stop, Doma Cafe, Federal. We’ve shared many a happy meal in the surprising and wonderful Japanese cafe, in the heart of the hinterland. I got burned in the shade, but still. Nothing beats that halloumi burger.

And then, a bare foot walk to the base of Minyon Falls. Even 100% humidity, and 36 degree heat couldn’t spoil this.

 

I love that the children come alive as soon as their fingertips touch a fern, or their feet touch the earth. The little fairy door some clever person has carved into a fallen log added more magic. And if you ever go, swim in the waterhole, stand under the waterfall, and look up. The sight of drops falling…

At home, we made Chinese soup, drank champagne and sat in the garden. I asked Gregor what’s the best thing about the last ten years, and he made a few jokes, which is exactly why we work so well together.

I said his legs were the best thing about the last ten years. And the fact that he’s an incredible father to my girls. And a great support to me. I forgot to mention how much I love the fact he washes up every night.

There was more than one raised eyebrow when I told friends and family 10 + years ago I was throwing away my life on a random Dutch guy.

Today, a friend said it was lucky I followed my instincts.

It was instinct, I guess. It was also a lot of luck, and a little work. Like, for instance, recently, when I resolved to use my ‘nice voice’ as much as possible, and not dump my irritation on Greg. Relationship patterns develop without you even realising it, and suddenly they feel unbendable. But they can bend. Neither of us want a nagging relationship, for ourselves, for our relationship, and for our kids.

Anyway, the Adventure of Love, and our trip to Marry Land, kids and all, was the perfect way to celebrate ten happy years together.

Here’s to ten more? I hope.

Here we stand, my love and I

I fell in love many times before I turned 22. So many times, it hurt. Falling in love was lying awake, stung by love’s sting. It was heart in stomach despair. It was walking around in a constant fog of another person.

Then I met someone I didn’t need to fall in love with. We just loved each other. After a few days of being together, he sat beside me, meditating. When he opened his eyes, he said ‘I love you.’ I loved him too. It was so simple. So painless.

Was all that other pre-22 love real? Was that love? Or just blind infatuation? It hurt like love ought to. But the other kind of love – the love which requires no falling because it’s is more a gentle glide from friendship – is so much… easier.

Here we are, my love and I, standing on Boulder’s Beach. We stand, hand in hand, on Valentine’s Day 2015.

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I support you to be the person you grow to be, was our only actual spoken commitment in our wedding vows. I think we’ve done well with that.

Today is our ninth wedding anniversary. It makes me feel old. But it also makes me feel good. At some point in my life, I never imagined myself capable of a long-term relationship – but here we still are.

Actually, I think I love this guy more than ever, specially now, living in his home town, listening to the music he made as a teenage punk, being surrounded by his beautiful family. Capable, loving person that he is.

We did good. We are doing good.

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Thank you to lovely  Sarah from Bye Bye Blackbird for your photography and for making me feel less regretful about not having great wedding photos taken. For a while, I considered getting remarried {to the same guy} just so I could get better photos! Fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that now. These will do nicely. 

A wedding on a hill

13 is a lucky number for Gregor and I.

We moved into our first house on the 13th.

We bought our car on the 13th.

We married on the 13th.

Friday + 13 is particularly lucky.

Gregor was born on Friday the 13th.

Our daughter was conceived on Friday the 13th.

She was born at 3.13am on a Friday.

Today, Friday the 13th, we have been married for five years.

Today is a lucky day.

On a hilltop in the hinterlands of the North Coast NSW, two tall people who hadn’t known each other all that long, stood facing each other, with a celebrant between them, making a promise that by law, would tie them together for the rest of their lives. A storm idled in the distance, threatening to close the wedding down, but reaching only blowing point before drifting away. People gathered in cocktail attire, some ecstatic for the happy couple, most of them sure this whole thing was a good idea, and a few very uncertain it was.

Bubbles were blown as the champagne cork flew. In the photos, we all look happy, as every wedding party should. But it was true, I hadn’t known the fella long, and as I clasped that little bag of rings, I knew I was taking a dive in the deep end.

Gregor and I met under a giant chandelier at the Sydney Biennale 2006. He was tall, I was tall. Apparently he was taken by the apple skirt I was wearing at the time. We exchanged pleasantries, and he offered to help us with our project upstairs. His lopsided smile and twinkly eyes suggested life was fun, simple, and may as well be enjoyed. I gladly accepted the invitation.

A couple of days later, aware that I would be spending the evening in a strange city alone, he extended a particularly long arm, and invited me to dinner with him and a friend. We wandered into the city, and I learnt of his strange past of living in squats as a punk in The Netherlands, then moving to England to become a vegan and a Buddhist. He bought me the largest steak I have ever seen, and his was larger.

In the midst of the craziness of the Biennale, I was constantly drawn to his constancy. His stability. His ability to keep a twinkle in his eye and a joke on his lips. I gave him my phone number and told him to visit me in Melbourne. And he did.

One night after a party, you could say we became a couple.

We spent the next few weeks getting to know one another, although much of that time he spent on the road camping and touring Victoria. During our time together, we found we had so much in common, and conversation was endless. As we said goodbye at the airport, there were still 1000 things to be said. We hugged for a long time, and hoped it would be possible to meet again. He called me from the stop-over airport, and I knew at that point that we would make a commitment to be together, no matter what it took.

He spent three months back in Europe. We discussed every option possible for his return. I had just started a new and important job, and having lived in Europe the previous year, did not want to go back. He wanted to come to Australia – the land of enthusiastic people and kangaroo sausages. He painted a portrait of me to while away the months. All options considered, we settled on a temporary spousal visa, which of course involves marriage. I had discussed this with everyone I knew. A number of eye brows were raised. But really, it made sense. Although I had physically been with this person for such little time, we really loved one another. I really could see myself being with him indefinitely. We were a fit. And for the first time in my life, I knew what a fit felt like.

Initially we were planning the registry office, then decided to go the full haul…the white wedding, with champagne, rose petals and a four piece band. Why not? It was our wedding after all, and from all perspectives, our one and only.

Planning a wedding with my strange and jubilant European was easy. We would keep it relaxed. And we both understood that we were entering a contract under precarious circumstances. If, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out, we would be ok. Our expectations were realistic. It could go pear-shaped. But any marriage could go pear-shaped, and nearly half the time they do. Planning a wedding was also also made easier by the fact that mum, despite her reservations, did just about everything on the ground, from organising the venue, the flowers, the food and the wine.

The week before our wedding, we wrote our vows. Having been a practising Buddhist for a number of years, Gregor opted for a vow of truth. We would not commit until death do us part, or in sickness and in health. We didn’t know each other fully. We would promise to support one another to grow in any way we needed to grow. And that was all we could promise, in the garden of a village church.

Five years later, people still tell me it was the best wedding they have ever been to. A combination of the relaxed vibe, the amazing band who played all night, the lack of sit down dinner, and the dancing. One girl said to me that our wedding was her favourite because of its genuineness.  We treated the wedding as a union between two people, who in this particular moment, loved each other and wanted to be together and really, a wedding was the only way that was possible.

Every year after that wedding on a hill, I love my husband even more. We fit together better than ever. We love each other continuously. We have the occasional rogue argument, but we always know it will pass within minutes. Since having a child with him, I have been ever more certain that he is perfect for me. He is the perfect father – loving, kind and unflappable. He only wants the best for my child and for me. We still support each other to grow as each need to grow, but now, so much more than that.

Five years later, on Friday the 13th of January, he is still my best friend and soul’s companion.

 

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