A couple of weeks back me and my dad were in our local pub, a place which has become a kind of neutral-zone for us to discuss how to put the world to rights. It was nice being back in Scotland; I’d missed my family, so me and my girlfriend, Kirsten, made a flying visit before our various deadlines at Cardiff Uni kicked in.
At around 11:25pm, after making the obligatory jolt to the bar before it closed, I handed my dad his pint, and cutting in quickly before he could continue his rant about the Daily Mail I said “Oh, uhh, by the way, I probably ought to mention that me and Kirsten are engaged.”
My father, one of the most logical human beings I have ever met, looked away, frowned thoughtfully, and after a short pause replied, “Hmmm. Yes, I’d wondered about that… You’ll need to find a job!”
My dad’s casual reaction was an icebreaker of the whole ‘announcement’ experience. Since then, me and Kirst have found that the thing I was most nervous about (announcing our engagement) is really not a big deal. I think how we feel about each other is obvious to most people, so breaking the news ‘we’re planning to get hitched’ wasn’t really earth-shattering. But we’ve also found that the thing we assumed would just materialise naturally (the sodding wedding) does actually require quite a bit of fore-thought and planning.
Everything happened fast for us. We began seeing each other in late September 2012 within two days of meeting, were all-but living together after a month-and-a-half, and started discussing marriage after talking about what happens when university finishes. So in December, I popped the question in what was supposed to be a very nonchalant (read: cool) manner, mentioning that we “probably, ought to at somepoint, y’know, do something about it…”
It sounded better in my head. And I found out shortly afterwards that proposing to your loved one with a variant on the Nike slogan can cause hysterical laughter.
Before, it bugged me a little it wasn’t a bit more memorable. I didn’t get down on one knee and pop the question on a romantic beach, or on top of the Eiffel Tower, or have ‘Will you marry me?!’ written 20-feet high on the Megatron Screen at the Millennium Stadium. I didn’t buy an engagement ring (but being a pair of broke-arse journalism students we’d probably end up pawning it weeks later), so as a substitute Kirst’s been using an adjustable ring she bought last year for $7, with ‘Allons-y’ (a catchphrase from Dr Who) written on it.
Just like any couple, we have our lovey-dovey schlocky romantic(y) moments, but ultimately, two naturally quite skeptical people, we know how we feel and have no urge to demonstrate this through gestures of magnificent splendour. I think Kirsten’s thoughts were along the lines of: “What’s the point in spending time, money and effort on huge scale gestures when we could go somewhere for food?”, a sentence which reminded me how much I love her.
I guess it bothered me a little because there are ways this is ‘supposed’ to be done. But for us that’s not the point – a lack of diamonds or overwhelming gestures doesn’t mean a lack of love, or commitment, or the feeling of happiness and belonging in each other’s company. At the end of the day, that cheap bit of metal with ‘Allons-y’ carved in it has more value to us and our relationship than any diamond could.
We’re aware that marriage comes with sacrifice and compromise and responsibility, and I accept, painful as it may be, that at some point I’ll probably have join Kirsten and sit through a Broadway musical.
We know neither of us are perfect.
We’re just. . . us. And ‘us’ is all I really need.