Over half-term, husband, kids and I visit the in-laws. I like going there. They are, what my Grandma would say, “Very English people.” Nothing fazes them. Their home feels steady, safe and paid for. They keep chickens too so we get to take fresh eggs home. This is great because Arnie has decided he will eat egg if it is scrambled with a touch of pepper thus, in one swoop, we have doubled his food repertoire by 100%.
The in-laws ask us if we are doing anything for our upcoming second anniversary and husband and I laugh guiltily because we have both forgotten it. How could I have forgotten it? This time two years ago I was as miserable as sin, fraught with anxiety and arguing with husband-to-be twice daily.
One of the many bones of contention before the wedding, apart from the obvious ones such as: why aren’t you changing your name? How much is this going to cost? and what’s wrong with goulash? – was the issue of ‘our song.’ Husband-to-be and I had met in that most romantic of places – cyber space – so we didn’t do what people normally do, which is, I assume, meet at a party and have a smooch at the end of “Careless Whispers” thereby rendering Careless Whispers ‘their tune’ forever and ever. So we didn’t have an ‘our song’ and in darker moments I wondered if the absence of one meant we weren’t meant to be together. Although it seemed very artificial only two weeks before the wedding, I decided to find us one. I knew it didn’t have the importance of Obama’s choice of song for his campaign – oh ok, I thought it had equal importance actually.
The trouble was our favourite songs weren’t appropriate. Husband likes ‘Suspicious minds’ and the ‘Mr Brightside’. – (I detect a theme here). I like the songs of the heartbroken: ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, or ‘Tainted Love’, although I have a hankering for songs like ‘Joleen’, ‘Valerie’ or ‘Mary’. Not so good when your name is Bill. Or Sandra.
It was as bad and as fraught as choosing the baby names. I would make lists and husband-to-be would knock them off only instead of “too posh,” “not posh enough,” it was “too naff,” “not naff enough.”
We had lots of contenders but nothing stuck. For a time, we were both happy to compromise with ‘Nobody does it better,’ but it seems a bit in your face about shagging. Anyway, as I said to husband at the time AS A JOKE. “What if it’s not true?”
Two days later, when he started talking to me again, he had the suggestion of ‘Only you.’
Looking from a window above
its like a story of love
Can you hear me?
I was keen but not sure about the lyrics. What window? What story?
Not long after that, I re-discovered the best song EVER: Depeche Mode’s ‘Enjoy the Silence’.
All I ever wanted
all I ever needed
is here in my arms
I was delighted: I ran into the dining room where husband was once again struggling with the red curry versus goulash. Christ, who has goulash at a wedding?
“Is this not the best love song of all time? The music, the lyrics, the everything about it is great. And it’s about US!”
Husband-to-be looked shifty. “Um…I…yeah, it’s a great song but…you know that girl I used to…”
Ok, not that.
In the end, the wedding went well. We got through it much in the same way we get through our marriage: It is different to how we imagined but hopefully it’s ‘good different’. The red curry was lovely. I felt and still do feel massively fortunate to have such a good man as my life-partner. (Women in my family tend to have a low life expectancy so that’s not too onerous.) And, I got an ‘our song’ too.
Anyway, as we drive home from the in-laws, chuckling at having nearly forgotten the anniversary, our song comes on the radio and it is one of those beautiful moments of synchronicity, a crazy coincidence which suggests there is order in the chaotic universe after all. It is like a shot of adrenalin to the heart. Our whole relationship is flashing before my eyes: those first tentative emails, those first terrible dates, the first time we slept together without shagging, the first time I had my haircut and he didn’t notice, having the children, going on holidays, laughing, meeting each others’ eyes across an empty room. Yes, all that. And I realised that the actual song didn’t matter – it’s like a photo and even if the photo is fuzzy and unflattering – it still is a trigger for a thousand memories.
“When I come home…
Yea I know I’m going to be I’m going to be that man who comes back home to you
And if I go…
Yea I know I’m going to be I’m going to be that man who going over you”
“Darling, it’s our song!” I say, beaming.
“Is it?” says husband. Fortunately, when he sees my face, he does a quick save. “Oh yeah, course it is. Nice one.”