I am not a deliberate hoarder. If you find something in my possession that's more than a few years old, it's mostly because I've been too lazy or too absent-minded to throw it out.
Books are the only exception. It was with great difficulty that my parents persuaded me (at age 19 or 20, I think) to give up all those Ladybird books from my childhood and donate them to the local library. I hadn't looked at them in over 13 years, but even so, the thought of giving away my precious books was physically painful. Moppet's Papa is the same way. We currently own 2 complete sets of PG Wodehouse titles, and neither is willing to give away their set. So they stay, in bookshelves acround our home, and our parents' homes, re-read very occasionally, but always loved.
So I guess it's not surprising that when I considered what I should write about for this beautiful tag from Tharini, the only thing that came to mind was a pair of notebooks. This is their story.
I was a naive 20 to Moppet's Papa's worldy-wise 25 when we first met. It was the first time I was living away from home, and for all the freedom and independence my parents gave me growing up, it was still a very safe and sheltered life that I had led. Not so this young man, a Bombay boy, used to having to fight to get his way, who had lived and worked all over the country, and who knew by now exactly what he wanted from life.
It was also clear to him very early on that I was the girl for him, and he lost no time in telling me so. His certainty freaked me out - how could he be so sure? I liked him very much, this fella who so obviously knew who he was, and didn't need to pretend to be anyone else. I liked his faintly bad boy air, with his self-painted graphic t-shirts and ripped jeans. He was cute, he was smart, he was my kind of guy.
But I worried about me. I'm just starting out, I told him. I've got so much to learn and see and do. I can't say if I'll be the same person you see today 5 years from now. My arguments did nothing to shake his certainty, but he agreed to take it at whatever pace I was comfortable with.
Over the 3 years that we dated, we 'broke up' twice, both times because of my doubts and fear of commitment. He never wavered. Talked me through my issues, gave me space, and waited for me to call him, as I always did in the end.
We got officially engaged and set a wedding date, and though I knew this was what I wanted, I would still suffer from periodic bouts of self-doubt. I was 23. What was I doing getting married this young? What did I know of men, relationships, the world? Nothing! Nothing!
A couple of months before the wedding, as part of the requirements for a church wedding, we had to do a weekend retreat called 'Engaged Encounter', run by a priest with help from several volunteer couples. We were both highly sceptical going into the program, neither of us being fans of organised religion, but we had no choice, if we (or rather, our families) wanted a church wedding.
And so we arrived, sniggering about the place and the people to each other, settled in, and prepared to be bored out of our minds. Instead, we were blown away.
The program was structured as a series of sessions on different subjects that affect relationships including things like money, sex, family background, friendships, careers, and life priorities. Each of us was given a blank notebook, and a set of questions for each session that we needed to answer honestly - both our own point of view and what we believed was our partner's point of view. After we wrote all that down, we'd exchange notebooks, read what we'd written, and discuss it privately.
Session after session, beginning from the first one which asked us why we were there (our identical answers - because we had to), we discovered how well we knew each other, how closely our hopes and dreams had already become intertwined, and how our thoughts were almost always first for the other before ourselves.
That was the weekend that dissolved my doubts, and it was a very sure and happy bride who skipped down the aisle 2 months later. Even today, 5 years later, when I get out those notebooks onto which we poured out our hearts, I'm amazed afresh by the connection we share.
And to think it might never have been.
So although we've never celebrated Valentine's Day (I'd rather celebrate more personal special days like birthdays and anniversaries), I think it's somewhat fitting that this post should end up being written on this day of love.
I just got the most beautiful bunch of red roses from the husband. I'm floored, especially since he's not in town today, it means he must have remembered and arranged for them a couple of days ago. (That, or his new secretary is very efficient ;-)
Thank you, sweetheart, you just made my day.
The flowers were immediately appropriated by Moppet, squealing excitedly, "Mama look, WED foWERs!" so I took a quick photo to save this memory of my very first Valentine's day bouquet before it gets dismembered :-)