15 years we’ve known each other this year, and 12 of those married. It’s one of those occasions where it feels time does that funny thing; it only seems like yesterday that we met and at the same time it feels like we have known each other forever. I can’t imagine life without him.
We met in the days before social media, the days before smartphones; we met on a mutual friend’s birthday night out and when we said we were dating everyone seemed surprised. I still don’t know why they were so surprised really. It had never crossed our friends’ minds to introduce us to one another apparently, but we feel like we were made for one another.
That first evening we smuggled him into a basement club which had a strict “nae trainers” rule (we were in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and these rules were normal) but of course he had trainers on. It seems daft now to think he would be wearing anything else out. He still wears the same clothes as he did back then; a jeans, t-shirt, trainer kind of guy. Suit and shirt for work, of course. We chatted all night in the cheesy club, the kind where you stuck to the floor when you walked, and apparently I was the one to make the first move (I finally admitted to this at our wedding three years later, to be fair). At the end of the night I handed him my Nokia phone to put his number in.
We texted for a week and the following Sunday we had a lunch date, then a dinner date, then met our friends for a movie date. True story: our first date was 12 hours long. And that’s how it began. We were best of friends pretty early on and I think that has been key to our success. We went out with all of our friends a lot and my best friend, who only lived round the corner, loved him too. When a relationship starts surrounded by others who love you both, I truly think it helps a lot.
We were in the early stages of our careers, but just out of uni. It was the best of times; the independence of youth and first salaries, the energy and time to burn the candle at both ends. We didn’t grow up fast, we were silly, we had fun, we were reckless, but it was great. Pre-loading in my flat before we got the bus into town, hanging out at house parties, country drives around Northumberland on Sunday afternoons. Eating space cake before going to see a subtitled movie and thinking we could all of a sudden speak Spanish, me getting locked in his flat by his flatmate after he had gone to work, him waiting to meet me for an hour in town because my phone battery was flat. These were the early days of our relationship and we had so much fun.
I still look at this man and remember these times and they make me smile, but we have been there through good and bad; tough times at work, family bereavements, we held each other tight through them all and still do today.
I told him that I loved him by writing it in a crossword puzzle. He asked me to marry him as we crossed the road in New York on the way to the jewellery quarter (but that’s another story). We decided to emigrate to the other side of the world because he trusted my opinion on New Zealand without him ever having been here. We talked about having a family, and when we realised it didn’t look like it would happen we started planning our travels around the world. We cried with joy and disbelief at the positive pregnancy test only a month after that discussion. He let me squeeze his hand until it was white as our first child was born. He held our second child in his arms while the medical team all rushed in as I started to hemorrhage. Thick and thin…always there for one another.
Moving to the other side of the world will either make you or break you. I’ve seen it happen so many times. Thankfully it made us. Nearly a whole year of not really knowing anyone, our first year of marriage was spent playing scrabble and exploring our new home. I truly think it was the best thing for our marriage. We basically had a year long honeymoon with no interruptions from friends and family. It’s a good job we liked each other’s company!
We have always been equals and that stands as true today as it did 15 years ago. We discuss everything and make decisions together. I trust his judgement, and he trusts mine. We are both stubborn, but to be honest, we rarely argue. I respect him too much for that and we kind of have an unwritten rule that if other one of us is being a dick, we say so. It works. Trust me.
He is a wonderful father and husband, but bottom line is, he is my best friend, and for that I thank him. Are we lucky to have this relationship? Maybe, but I’m happier to say we work at it and never give up. And yes we’ve grown up, but we haven’t forgotten our younger selves. They are still there everyday, they just sometimes have to be reminded to come out and play.