Sometimes we can trace back how our lives have turned out to the smallest of things, like words that were spoken to you or by you.
The OH was a shy guy when I met him, chatty once he was comfortable with you, but never the type to make the first move, (more about that later!). We made friends in second year of college. I always tried to copy his homework because he was better at Chemistry than I was. I laughed at his jokes and stories in class and I liked him, but never really saw him as anything more than a mate.
I was walking home from the pub one night, a bit brokenhearted that my latest crush wasn’t showing me much reciprocal interest, and there he was on the bridge. We stopped to chat and, out of the blue, (and very unlike the shy guy I had come to know), he offered to walk me home… in the direction he had just come from, even though his house was just around the corner.
That moment of bravery on his part, when he uttered the words, “Can I walk you home?” was the start of something bigger than either of us could ever have imagined. I do believe, in that moment, everything I felt about him changed, just like that.
Fast forward a month or so, during which time the OH and I spent a lot more time together. I loved being with him, but we were still just buddies, even though I knew I wanted more. I was always around him, finding excuses to hang out. I even fell asleep on his sofa with him one night and when I woke in the morning I angled my face up so our lips were almost meeting and waited for him to wake up and accidentally kiss me. It didn’t work… he woke up and nearly fell off the sofa with shock!
[Sidenote: it sounds as if he wasn’t interested which is not true. Years later I asked about how we got together and he told me he had seen me on the very first day of college, a year prior to us ever talking, and he remembered what I was wearing and where I sat in class. He just never thought, (his words), he had a shot with me.]
As the weeks went on, and he remained as gentlemanly as ever, I became more and more frustrated, but with the cocky confidence of youth on my side, I was not going to admit defeat. I wanted this guy and I intended to get him.
After a half-term break we all returned to college and on the Sunday night before class hit the nightclub. We danced as a large group, no one-on-one dancing at all, we drank and had a laugh. Once the ‘slow set’ came on my friend Linda pushed the two of us out onto the dance floor, (as we had planned!), and we did the slow dance shuffle thing awkwardly. I kept my face very available for any kisses he might have wanted to plant but sadly the set ended and my lips remained untouched.
Linda took me aside, “WTF?!” and I decided it was time for me to ‘man up’ and take charge of this situation.
Slow set number two began and I gave him the “Are you dancin?” eyebrow raise and nod towards the floor and he got up.
We danced for all of a minute, my heart beating out of my chest with nerves, when I looked up at him and said the line, “If I do something, will we still be friends tomorrow?” He smiled down at me, (I think he knew what was about to happen), and said “Of course!” I leaned up and planted a very chaste kiss on his lips and as I pulled away he wrapped his arms around me and drew me in for a very deep kiss. We kissed all night and he walked me home.
In Ireland, certainly back in 1991, people didn’t ‘date’. We ‘went out’ with people, we would “go” with someone. If you liked someone you were exclusive from day one until you broke up. As we stood at my door, arms around each other, I said, “So…” and waited to see what would happen.
“So…” he replied smiling, I repeated, “So…” and then he said the next couple of words that changed my life.
“So, do ya wanna go with me or what?”
Romantic huh? Of course, I said yes!
Fast forward seven years. We lived together practically from day one, he bought me a toothbrush and a hairbrush for his flat and I basically moved in one piece of clothes at a time.
One day we both had to get formally dressed to get headshots done for some CVs we were sending out to find work. We were lying on our double bed after we got home, me wearing my little business skirt, nylons, a bra and his necktie, (there’s an image!), and him in his open collared shirt trousers.
My parents had both died and I had a bit of inheritance. I was telling him about a chat I’d had with my older brother at the weekend about spending it and that life is short, see the world etc. etc.
We started fantasising about places we would like to holiday in, safari in Africa, the Caribbean, the Seychelles, The Maldives and I said, “Jesus, they are like… not just holidays! Those are serious honeymoon type places,” and he looked down at me and said, “Well let’s do that,” to which I replied something along the lines of “Yeah right, feck off!”
He looked at me and said it… “So, you wanna marry me or what?”, (the romantic devil).
He did have to ask me a few more times before I believed he was deadly serious. I said yes and then proceeded to get the shakes, trembling uncontrollably. So, he took my hand, brought me downstairs, made me beans on toast and fed me until I stopped shaking. (Even back then the guy knew how to give aftercare!)
I look back at my life, and at how I got here, and the four most important lines that were ever said to me or that I ever said are imprinted on my memory:
“Can I walk you home?”
“If I do something will we still be friends tomorrow?”
“Wanna go with me or what?”
“Wanna marry me or what?”
Such small little sentences that made such a difference.
I hold them in my heart always.
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