Autumn is here, the leaves as they always do are turning brown and gold. There is a distinct nip in the air these mornings and the heat of the day lacks intensity. But this is not the time to be drawing poetic or metaphorical comparisons with the ‘autumn’ of our lives. No, what Rob and I are contemplating is a long, rewarding, late-blooming summer – summer in two countries, and the high summer of our two lives, soon about to become one.
We spoke yesterday on Skype for a long while, about what this marriage means to us, and what sort of marriage we have in mind. As usual, our thoughts are wonderfully in sync; we have similar views on the things that matter, and somehow seem to understand how the other sees things. Yet we are also different, separate and independent human beings: although we are of the same era, we are of different countries and backgrounds; though we are both professionals, we work in very different fields; and when, occasionally, we differ on matters of style or taste, we do so decisively (but amicably, tolerantly, too).
Most important to her, Rob said, is that we write out our vows to one another. This was a new concept to me, so she explained: we should each write out, and say to each other, when we have the marriage ceremony, what our marriage means to us, what kind of commitment we are making, and what it is that we are promising each other. I have to say, I kind of like the idea: this is our marriage, after all, and it should be our words, and our thoughts and feelings, that are at the heart of it.
How do we feel about wedding bands? We had some fun with that – hamming it up, joking about the huge Elvis Presley ruby I would wear on my finger, along with the gold chain and the transplanted hair on my chest. Truth is, I have never worn a ring of any kind: but Rob would like to wear a wedding ring and, as she said, if she does, so should (she put it more firmly, actually) – so should I. What’s sauce for the goose, is sauce for the gander.
Ok then, rings. But an engagement ring? Nope, we decided: feels funny, no need. Neither do we wish to use the term ‘fiance(e)’ to describe one another – seems icky, at our age. Church wedding? Definitely not – we are too old for hypocrisy. Here’s an interesting one – do we get married three times, in three countries? That occasioned some discussion. Again though, no: one marriage ceremony, however we choose to do this, will suffice. But we will throw three parties, in Canada, the US, and South Africa, and we will, at each of these, have a few moments for the solemnities, and read our vows before those we love and who love and care for us.
When, and where, to do the deed? I didn’t want either of us to jet in somewhere, have a wedding, and dash off again somewhere else. There needs to be a proper gravitas and sense of ceremony, low key perhaps, but real. So getting married when I visit Canada in August is not on: too rushed, too crowded, too much else to do. One option is to do this in South Africa at the end of the year, when Jono comes home to visit. Another might be to marry in Toronto, in March or April, when the weather is improving and towards the end of what, hopefully, could be an extended visit. And then we could come back to our South African home, and throw a party here.
No decisions, but some parameters are beginning to emerge.
We spoke, as I’ve said, for a long time – and some of what was said was not for public consumption, or the ears of children. But I did call Jono in London, later, to confirm that Rob has booked our tickets and we are – after all – flying through London. We will have five days in all, landing on the morning of 18 August and flying out together, via Paris, on the evening of the 22nd. He was genuinely delighted – he will try to take some leave, so he can show us around; we will stay with him and his girlfriend Hailey; we will also, I hope, see our dear friend Mike and take in a show together or an exhibition; and there is family that Rob will want us to visit. Most of all, though, Rob and I will have family time with my son, in his own home, in London: that, notwithstanding the additional expense, was the deciding factor – and it was Rob, thinking of family and family relationships, who made the argument.
Already I can sense a subtle but defining shift growing (‘shift happens’, as my life coach, Helena, likes to say). Rob and I are no longer ‘in’ a relationship – no: we ‘are’ a couple. From that new reality, everything flows.