Writing a blog is extremely therapeutic. For an introvert like myself, it helps me consolidate my thoughts into a concise chapters of what I’m going through a given time. Often a post will be a thought train that comes together eventually as a post, but a lot of my intended posts never reach the blog-post stage. They are either lost on a long dog walk or I simply don’t have time to put them into words. This post has stuck with me for a long time and I’ve never really been able to get it right. That, and I’ve been waiting for the perfect moment to post it. But here goes. I guess this could also be considered a blog post for my baby girl when she grows up a bit. If so, I’d retitle this post as ‘Christmas Wishes, a.ka. How I Met Your Mother.’ Cue HIMYM music.
Warning, this entry is a bit gushy…
It all started in 2007 when, against my preference, I was ‘encouraged’ to attend a youth event in London. As an assistant to the regional manager (Office pun intended), it was a compulsory attendance situation. I wasn’t of youth age, but as youth workers we somehow were also there. My future best friend was there too as a youth worker for another region. Along with a lot of other youth workers. It was a big event with many branches of the organisation in attendance.
Now a little about my love life at the time. It wasn’t long previous that I had resolved myself that God will eventually bring my future wife across my path and that I should stop hunting around – quite simply because every time I did, it would always ended in heartache. The countless Christmas Eve’s I would return from work to my parents house, thinking. Wishing. Hoping. That somewhere, someday my perfect partner would be out there. But the years of trying had made me skeptical. To many, I would seem a tad young to be thinking such things – but there is something that you need to understand about me. I was made for close friendships. I love my wider friends, but I thrive on just a close band of friends and family. That’s where my loyalties lie. I had some incredible guy friends around me at the time, who were the best I could ask for. But there was another space in my life that was still vacant. That of girlfriend. And in my early twenties, this served as evidence of my unbalanced nature. Evidence that I needed a mate. Someone I could love on. Someone who I could do life forever with. All these thoughts and feelings resulted in a lot of dead-ends, and finally the resolution that it wasn’t within my power to bring her across my path. Instead, I needed to place it into higher powers. And there is no higher power than God. So that’s where I’d decided to leave it. As best I could, you understand.
Resolved and ready to move on, I had a very different objective for this event. Get through it. At the time I was very enthusiastic about my local branch of young people. Not so much the bigger picture of the nation. It always seemed like more of a competition between branches than a celebration of unity in cause. That’s no reflection on the people running the conference. Each to their own vision. But naturally, for me, this particular event fell way outside of my ‘passion’ zone. But back to the point. At this national gathering of youth, there were teams from as far as Scotland in attendance. This was to include a familiar set of faces from the Swindon branch.
It wasn’t until the last day of the event that the Swindon branch were scheduled to lead the band. Now excited that there was only one meeting until the journey home, my happiness was perhaps a little more evident that normal. Equally, my observation skills more in-tune. And as the music started, my observation was of a new face in their familiar band. A new singer. While most young people pushed towards the front to get closer to the music and noise, I pushed through the crowd, all the way to the front to see something -someone- else that evening. Her smile amazing, her singing – perfect, her hair golden blonde and her eyes blue as best I could make out. Alarm bells of my resolution could not still the thumping of my heartbeat. At first I thought the bass was just turned up too loud. It probably was. But that wasn’t it. This was something else. She was perfect! There wasn’t a chance she’d notice me amongst the crowd – and against all of my introverted tendencies – my goal was to at least introduce myself before we headed home at the end of the evening, and the event.
The meeting finished. I couldn’t tell you what it was about, who spoke or what kind of response it had because quite simply my mind was somewhat other occupied. Was this girl taken? If she wasn’t – would she be interested in the likes of me? And if not, how could I even begin to forget her?! I’m pretty sure there was also the thought of ‘would we stop for a maccers on the way home’. But I think that was because I needed mind fuel to think about the other, more meaningful thoughts. At least that’s what I tell myself.
I can’t speak for everyone. But suddenly I was leaning towards the persuasion of love at first sight. Could it be? Or was I just high on adrenaline at the prospect of a Big Mac on the way home? I don’t know if it was love. But somehow, in some way, I knew this was more than just another crush. This in mind, once the meeting had finished, I pushed our friendship group to mixed with the Swindon branch. Conversation quickly shifted towards the new guitarist (another new band member who I hadn’t noticed – quite simply because I was a deer in the headlights for their newest singer). It turned out to be the singers’ younger brother, so the conversation then dropped in her name. And what a cool name. Sure, I’d known others by that name. But somehow this time the name seemed even better and more perfect than ever. The conversation continued. Being the social recluse that I am, the conversation continued around me as I tried to drop in some kind of conversation specifically aimed at my new love interest. Things rarely work out exactly the way you hope and it was all I could do but get a ‘nice to meet you’ in at the end as we left. Kicking myself (whilst still feeing a little chuffed that I’d managed to get some conversation in at all!!), the journey home was full of dreaming. I didn’t actually sleep, but my head was filled with what-if’s and if-onlys. But at the end of it all. In the quiet, it felt a bit like this wish got away from me.
Bummed at my loss, I would often mention her to many of my friends after that day, referring to her as ‘the one’. I think I quickly bore them with my daydreaming. But somehow I had to hope there was a way we would meet again.
Thankfully, she was more forward than I. Unbeknown to me – she had noticed me. She had been asking around at the Swindon branch about me. And finally, after waiting around for a few days for me to do something (which I was too scared to do), she did the unthinkable. She braved the public commenting on MySpace. MySpace was still relatively new, but being the tech-savvy nerd that I am – I’d made my page look pretty nice. She argues this had nothing to do with it, but I recon my carefully considered ‘favourite TV Shows’ and All Star United track on my page was a definite selling point to her. Comments led to messages, led to emails, led to essays which finally ended up as phone calls. The first time we called, I remember thinking how amazing her voice was. I could listen to it for hours. And I did. We put the unlimited minutes on our phone contracts to the test – with three warnings from O2 that we had overstepped our ‘fair-usage’ policies. Great times.
We got to know each other so well over this time. We even watched TV boxsets (shout out to Series 1 of Heroes!) over the phone together after both purchasing the DVD sets. Finally, one phone call on a December night that I asked that girl to become more than a friend. Not a girl that is my friend, but my girlfriend. That moment of asking was longer than when I would later propose. You can’t gauge a response over the phone. You just wait for the answer. She said yes. December 15th 2007. From that moment, I knew everything was going to be OK. And it was. Better than OK. 7 Years later, I write on Christmas eve with my wife. She’s putting our six week old daughter to sleep. Now married five years, the four of us (My wife and I, my daughter and my dog) together. I can refer back to three wishes I had at the time of meeting her. Living in a house, married with a successful business. Our first Christmas together, we spent two and a half hours apart. But it was one of the last one’s I’d ever be alone. Because of the waiting up to that December. And because of the long-distance relationship, I would never want to waste a single moment with her. She was everything I had wished for and more. She still is. Sometimes I snap out of work-mode or routine to remind myself of just how incredible she is. I think back to that moment when I fist saw her. And then all the memories we have created ever since. I thank God for her all the time. But Christmas especially. Because, after all, she was the the answer to a massive Christmas wish all those years ago.