Monday, 16 January 2012

A love letter to Sydney. And to love.

Sunset at The Surin, Phuket

You know you’re on a honeymoon when the falling leaves and washed up bits of coral are shaped like love hearts. The point needn’t have been laboured but what kind of cynical wife would I be if I didn’t appreciate the gesture.

Reader, I married him.

Nine days ago to be precise and for the last four days we’ve been in Phuket doing not very much very, very well. Breakfast, swim, nap, lunch, nap, swim, cocktails at sunset, dinner. It’s been an abrupt full stop, or perhaps necessary ellipses, between the busy, memorable, emotional, perfect three weeks at home (replete with Christmas, Oliver’s 30th and the wedding) and our inevitable return to London tomorrow.

Sunset, Sydney-style. On Lovely Boy's birthday no less.
I’m feeling a dazed sort of ambivalence about it – dizzied by the prospects this year holds in terms of work and learning and travel and great times with special friends, but with my heart still firmly rooted in Sydney and now joined by a quiet, gnawing impatience to get home and get on with life. By this I certainly don’t mean babies (not yet, sorry Mum) but a home that is ours for the painting, decorating, entertaining and a life that involves our families and the option of a swim and a coffee before work.

A bit of Bilgola heaven.
It was so freaking unbelievably good to be home. It did take a week to settle in, thanks to jetlag, a delightful case of gastro-enteritis that I came home with (via a pit-stop at Charing Cross Hospital A&E for necessary drugs to get me through the flight. Now that was an afternoon I could have done without three hours before we had to be at the airport….) and then, the usual readjustment to the pace of life that is Sydney summer and not London winter. You don’t realise how pent up living in London makes you until you spent a couple of days moseying around the northern beaches of Sydney. Whiplash from the brake application.

There are so many things I love about Sydney, about being home, about Summer and about family. Curious king parrots that fly in and park themselves on the pool fence; kookaburras sitting in the old gum tree (yes, really); morning swims with my Mum at Bilgola Beach, watching pods of dolphins chase fish while everyone else chased waves; robust, rude conversation amongst my brothers and sisters choked with snorts of laughter; waking up at 7am and crawling into bed with my mum for a gossip and a cup of tea; eating mangoes that send juice streaming down your arms; boxes of cherries the size of grenades; lunch at North Bondi Italian with the best posse of girlfriends (before swimming in underwear because the car is parked in Rose Bay and your swimmers are on the front seat…), ducking and diving and laughing hilariously and remembering This Was My Life Before London; pink wine and cheese at 3pm; warmth on my back and a pervading sense of peace. All this. 

And then a wedding. Our wedding. In the garden, with the parrots and the cockatoos and 87 of our most special friends and family members. I think every bride thinks her day was perfect. I KNOW mine was. 

The weather was a gift from Nan – bookended by steamy, wet, windy, temperamental days, January 7th was warm, sunny, gently breezed and in the evening the most divine kind of balmy. Several people commented that the gentle wind that entwined us both with the long white paper garlands that hung behind us was a blessing – literally and metaphorically - from Nan. I like to think so too. We laughed – we managed not to cry – and have been overwhelmed by the number of people who told us, who keep telling us, that it was the perfect mix of romantic, personal, funny, intimate and meaningful. We like to think so too...

Lovely Boy overcame his nerves to deliver the most heartfelt of speeches and we ate and drank and laughed some more as Soph perfected the MC role, LB’s best man did what all best men are supposed to do (read: recall inappropriate anecdotes) and Tori, LB’s Dad and Oliver spoke hilariously and warmly about us both respectively and collectively. It was truly overwhelming to feel so loved and celebrated.

And then we danced. Under the lanterns I have been dreaming about for at least a decade while the garden blinked with a kilometre of fairy lights. As I said the next day – it was just enough of too much. And the music rocked. In fact, it rocked so much that at 11.30 I asked three gatecrashers from the hostel up the road to please leave and at 12.20am the police came and asked us to turn the music down after a grumpy complaint from miserable 94 year old Claude across the street. A rockstar kind of wedding if ever there was….

And for all my anxiety and doubt about The Dress – in the end we wore each other. I felt confident, beautiful, special and yet, still very much me. But the very best version of me. People have to tell the bride she looks beautiful and that they love the dress but even I could tell that people meant it – basically because they all looked kind of stunned. I took that as a compliment too. I felt sad to take it off at the end of the night and sadder still leaving it behind when we left on Thursday.   

We left the house for the hotel at 1.30am – exhausted, elated, dazed and overwhelmed, struggling to make concrete all the memories, sensations and moments of the day – and marvelling at the perfection of it all. And the still-then amazing weather. Several hangers-on remained behind, blithely unaware of the etiquette to leave when the bride does, but getting back to the hotel and crashing into bed, all I wanted was to be back at the house – not in any sort of bridal capacity, but just with my mum and my sister, having a cup of tea and the world’s biggest debrief. Not the most romantic of desires to fall asleep to but make of it what you will.

I still feel a bit stunned when I think about the day – the love, the colour, the flowers – god the flowers! – the marquee full of everyone we love. And then I feel flat and a bit sad that I didn’t grasp harder still to take it all in.  

It’s not a blur but trying to remember the day in its completeness is like hearding butterflies – scattershot, delicate, beautiful, impossible. I remember crying in the shower in the morning feeling totally overwhelmed, I remember walking up the drive with Oliver, Sophie and Edward listening for the music we’d chosen 12 months earlier, I remember Loris mouthing “breathe” to me during the ceremony, my dad’s impassive face, my mum’s happy tears, the clench of Lovely Boy’s hand on my waist, the slight sense of the ridiculous as we posed for photos, the swaying lanterns, the exquisite flowers, the impossible lightness of fabric against my skin, taking my shoes off so my knees wouldn’t knock when I gave my speech, the garden like a fairy wonderland, Jill careening across the lawn looking for Rob when “Dancing Queen” came on – the song she gave us when we asked for favourite dancing numbers, I remember Tor feeding me mango sorbet while the grass caught my toes, I remember feeling honoured and delighted that so many of my friends were all in the one room, for me no less, and feeling so very loved – and so very in love – with my freshly minted husband.

In many respects this post feels like a love letter – to Sydney, to my Mum, to my Lovely Boy, to the most perfect of married moments. A letter that doesn’t, for now, need a post-script about London.

We’ll get to that – indeed, tomorrow. 

1 comment:

tori said...

It was, the most magical, of magical nights. Can't wait to get back to London to have a proper, proper debrief. xx