It’s now ten minutes to midnight on the night before my wedding day. I dropped *Twinkle* back to the cottage we’ve rented for her parents, where she will spend her last night before she becomes my wife.
It’s been an amazing day. Thinking back over the last 16 hours I feel tearful – we have been shown such kindness by so many, and the day itself is yet even to begin! We are so so grateful. Thank you so much to everyone involved.
The village hall looks great – we have hundreds of metres of bunting – handmade by a friend. There are hundreds of origami paper cranes too, made by *Twinkle*s family (it took three of them several hours to fold them all, but they look amazing). In the church we have some beautiful beautiful flower arrangements made by my brother’s fiancé and mum, using flowers donated by local gardeners. Paper flowers too, made by *Twinkle*s family and fixed to the walls by *Twinkle*s best friend from Japan, Mariko, who arrived from Barcelona at lunchtime. Our guests from the Netherlands have also arrived safely, as has *Twinkle*s second bridesmaid from Tokyo.
I am staggered by the amount of organisation needed just for a party of about 80 people. My head has been buzzing so much I’ve found myself feeling pretty out of it for a lot of the day. Kind of like, in a dream world. Floating, watching as my body goes about doing this that and the other. It’s not been a bad thing, although I know I’ve looked pretty dreadful!
But I really can’t emphasise enough just how much this wedding is a product of many hours of effort by our family and friends. I am so grateful to be able to hand over huge great chunks of organisation to various volunteers. How can we ever repay them?
Following the rehearsal, *Twinkle* and I decided to spend some time together to just ‘be’ and share our thoughts and feelings of what the day gone by had meant to us, and our feelings about tomorrow, and our married life beyond that (and to practice our ceremonial kiss!). The venue was our lovely little hire car (I am anti-car in principle but i do like our little blue Chevy which came as a free upgrade from the hire company and sports a string of wedding flags flying from the back!), and the Moon Inn at Garway.
I recently wrote of how marriage is changing things – and again tonight we noted how we could almost reach out and touch the change. It’s shifting our feelings for one another to a deeper level. The feeling of trust and commitment is really strong – it’s taken me by surprise several times today. (…but I thought I already trusted *Twinkle*, and wasn’t I already committed to our relationship?!”). The past week has been a simply perfect ‘ramp up’ to what will take place tomorrow. The timing could not be better.
The wedding rehearsal was really enjoyable, and natural. It was very relaxed – meaning that it felt appropriate to turn around and put my finger to my lips signalling everyone to be quiet when the priest asked if anyone knew of any lawful impediment to our marriage… tee hee, ;-p We are very fortunate to have Elaine as a priest – she is fantastic, and sets everyone at ease.
If I think of us doing that for real tomorrow surrounded by 80 or so of our closest friends, well, …wow! Just indescribable! How wonderful to be in that environment, sharing our commitment for one another with all those that mean so much to us.
Well, I guess I’d better get some sleep. It’ll be an even longer day tomorrow.
My thanks again to all of those involved in making this happen. In my mind, tomorrow’s event will not just be a celebration of the relationship that *Twinkle* and I are committing to, but also a celebration of community, of mutual love and support, of family, of friendship, and of the general wonderfulness of life.
The past couple of days have started to see a change in the relationship between myself and *Twinkle*. I think I know why that could be – the Marriage Effect.
It first struck me yesterday when we were driving home to the holiday cottage that we’ve rented about 500 yards from mum and dad’s place. Before now, we’ve lived together for the best part of two years. I didn’t expect marriage to change much in the dynamic between us, but it would seem that it’s doing just that.
These past few days we’ve been pretty independent. My parents have kindly given us use of the family car, which has enabled us to freely go about doing the things we need to do in preparation for the wedding, in addition to do things like go and watch the sunset from a local hilltop. During all of this, we’ve been talking. Talking about the past, the present, and the future. Talking about what marriage means to us. In fact, we’ve started creating our own list of additional marriage vows – a bit more definite than the vows we shall swear in church (those being the foundation on which we can build these additional promises).
All of this has led to a subtle shift in our relationship. A strong feeling of commitment is on the rise. Sure, it’s been there before, but not like this. This is something far bigger, something that can be relied upon. It’s tied up with a deepening sense of trust, and excitement that we’re in this long-term, together.
The marriage creates a strong feeling of team work – and independence too. Independence from our immediate families who have supported us in so many ways until now. This will no doubt be strengthened by our setting up a new home in Japan, a long way from my family, and the other side of Tokyo from *Twinkle*s. The combining of our finances too, which has basically already happened, promotes the feeling that whatever we’re working on, it’s a team effort with a common goal.
It may be a couple of years before we have children, but nethertheless, we will be a family in our own right.
It’s a bit surreal to be reaching this point after 30 years of being dependent upon others.
Hmm, so it’s feeling like it’s quite a big deal really.
It is a shame that *Twinkle* will be returning to Japan just two days after the wedding, but provided she makes it hop, skip and jump to the local ward office in Japan asap I should be able to join her within a few weeks.
Then it all starts for real.
As part of my prep for leaving for Japan, I’m going though my box of diaries, which also contains a few DVDs of TV programs featuring me or my friends, and converting them to MP4 format which I can keep on my laptop.
One of them I’ve not seen for years is the documentary made about my home of two years up in the Swiss Alps, Kleine Scheidegg. It’s extraordinary seeing all those familiar faces again. Albert our station master. Tomoko who worked in the buffet. My boss, Andreas, and other colleagues from the hotel.
Tomoko. She was very strong. I was a little afraid of her.
These memories will be with me for life. Watching Tomoko go up the stairs of the station building I’m taken aback by my sudden recollection of the smell of the place. It’s not that it was particularly smelly, but it did have a distinct scent, a cross between wood, clean toilets and bratwurst sausage. It’s amazing how much information I must have stored in my brain, all these little details – like the train conductors shouting “achi achi” (That way that way!”) at the Japanese tourists in a Swiss-German accent, or the trains with their electric folding wingmirrors.
Oh! And there’s Phil, from South Africa. He worked as a photographer with Benny the dog. Benny would pose with his brandy barrel in the midst of great gangs of Japanese tourists, the must-have Swiss shot to take home to their families.
Having these records of past lives helps me appreciate just how fortunate I’ve been to have had these experiences. We’ve all had them of course, but I personally find it difficult to remember events that happened a long time ago unless I have a trigger – such as a photo or film. I don’t want to forget, they’ve all been such an important part of making me who I am today.
I used to take it to extremes. When I was age about 14 I’d always read my diary entry from exactly a year ago. It became a bit obsessive, and I remember worrying that I was becoming stuck in my past.
I like to think I’ve found a healthy balance now. A balance between appreciation for what has gone before, planning for the future, and focusing upon the here and now.
I visited some friends last night who are helping a great deal with the wedding. I lived with one of them, Frances, for about a year in the very same Hotel Kleine Scheidegg as featured in the documentary above. She became a dear friend to me, and seeing her again after what might even be years without meeting reassured me that we are still close. It was such a meaningful experience to sit and talk with her, and observe how we’ve both changed since our time in the Alps. People like her make the world a very happy, caring place.
Frances, about to throw a snowball at me
The wedding is really starting to take shape now. This evening I spent some time painting elephants on jam jars for the nightlights on the tables. That was very therapeutic, and helped me unwind after yet another day of sorting through belongings and assigning stuff to the recycle or charity shop pile.
I think *Twinkle* and I are going to have to work very hard together, especially over this coming year. We’re both capricorn, both very ambitious, both with strong personalities. Of course, we differ in many ways too. For a start, she’s much cuter than me.
I hope that I’m far enough along the relationship road to have learnt to not put pride or ego before love. It’s going to be a challenging education, being husband to *Twinkle*, but I’ll do my absolute best. She’s worth every bit of energy I have.
We’ve been apart for over 4,800 hours. In 40, we’ll be together.
Ha. Everything but the girl. Nice.
Last week I upgraded my Macbook’s hard-drive to the 320GB Toshiba MK3252GSX. At £66 it was a bargain, and being a Macbook the upgrade can be done on the kitchen table in about three minutes.
One result of this is that I can now fit my entire music collection on my laptop – I used to just carry a small selection, whilst my main library was on an external drive that was a bit of a bore to plug in. This week I’ve been stuck on the playlist “Not played recently”, and wow, what a treat it has been. What a wonderful gift music is. Rediscovering all this old stuff that I’ve not heard in ages. Pink Floyd. Everything But the Girl. Genesis. Beth Orton. Joni Mitchell. Dick Gaughan. Nick Drake.
Another result of the upgrade is that I’ve rediscovered my video collection which, like my music, had been languishing on an external drive. I was staggered to find that I have 567 home-movies, many of which I haven’t seen in years. My favourites were those taken in the first few months of my relationship with *Twinkle* (I haven’t shot so many since then). She’s so funny, and so cheeky. Watching those really brings it home to me why I love her so much. I wrote a little while back about a difficult patch we were going through then, and how we had ‘lost touch with one another’s realities.”
After 6 months apart, the love I feel for her is not grounded in or dependent upon any physical realm. It’s not her cutey looks, her kind words or her personality. It’s underground, it’s her spirit, her ‘soul’. That’s been so important, as when there’s ripples across the surface, I just look below – the water is calm, rich, full of life.
Thus, watching those videos of her in hysterics due to me looking terrible in a photo that she’d just taken of me (etc) have been a great reminder of just what a joy it is to be with her on a ‘superficial’ level. She is so lovely to hang out with, and I can hardly believe that I have been so fortunate as to be destined to be her husband. I mean seriously, I can hardly believe that someone who fits so perfectly with the ‘girl of my dreams’ is coming to the UK next week to marry me. It’s a miracle!
I have a lot to thank Sheffield uni for, and a lot to thank the world in general for.
Thank you world
(now please tell Apple to get on with the MobileMe launch. .mac was due offline 9 minutes ago but it’s still working!).
I spent much of today in the library, hammering my dissertation into shape. We’re getting there. All but the conclusion written.
This week, the weather has been just beautiful. Real warm sunny days, no need for jumpers or jackets. This brings me such enormous pleasure. It’s been a very long winter, and I was getting to be truly tired of cold mornings.
Pondersa Park on a Sunday at 7am is a beautiful place to be. Arriving there this morning I was struck by the peace. Here I was in the centre of Sheffield, but close my eyes and I could easily have been deep in a Siberian forest. All I could hear was birdsong (and beautiful birdsong at that). I stood there for a while and soaked it up – country bumpkin that I am it was like having my batteries recharged.
Just as I was about to fall into a trance, I was suddenly dragged back into reality by the sound of shouting. I opened my eyes. At the other side of the field I could make out a woman in bright white trousers and a black top. She was walking briskly towards me. Shouting. At first I couldn’t catch what she was saying, then I realised that there was a good reason for that – she was shouting in Chinese. She continued to shout in Chinese as she crossed the field heading in my direction …then walked straight past me. She showed no acknowledgement of my being there. Just carried on looking straight ahead, shouting.
She seemed quite happy in her shouting though.
I got a little upset with *Twinkle* this afternoon. I’m not sure where it came from. She hadn’t said anything that might have provoked me. I think it came about as a result of pressure that’s been building up, anxiety over our post-wedding plans, or more precisely, the lack of plans. With finances extremely tight and my being unable to work immidiately following my return to Japan (it will take a little while to exchange the tourist visa I’ll be flying on for a spouse visa), I’ve been wondering whether I shouldn’t stay in the UK for a little while after our wedding in order that I can save some money. But that doesn’t really seem right. It goes against the spirit of a new marriage.
Thinking on our brief email conversation, I realised that the time had come to make a decision. I’d been waiting for some kind of sign, and this was it.
I called the magic number, and 20 minutes later has a small loan arranged, to be paid back once I start work. This means that I can fly the same day as *Twinkle* – Sunday July 27th 2008, and thus I should be able to start work sometime in late August / early September. I’ll call the embassy in the morning to check the details.
I am extremely grateful to the people who are helping me out here, thank you.
Tomorrow sees the start of my penultimate week of classes. The end isn’t in sight yet though. Lots to do between now and my final exam. (All this endingness has had me looking back at beginnings. I can’t believe I was in women’s clothing only a month after my arrival in Sheffield).