We’re getting married!
Ant and I don’t have a ‘meet-cute’ story. And that’s not because our meet wasn’t cute – it’s because we don’t have a meet-story at all. Growing up just six streets away from each other (Ant lived in 1st street, while I was born in 7th) and at the same school, with siblings of a similar age, and parents who were (and still are) friends, Ant has always always always been part of my life. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know him. So, as teenagers, we were both pretty firmly rooted in the same friendship circles, and also pretty firmly rooted in each others friendzones. Ant would give me lifts home from school on the back of his scooter (sorry, Mum, but in fairness, it was less than 5 blocks), he’d come over and put new music on my iPod for me, we’d both give each other relationship advice, we’d hang out and watch movies and SMS constantly and it was great. Makes us laugh now to think what our teenage selves would say if we could go back in time and tell them that one day we’d be getting married.
So, the elusive move from friend-friend to girlfriend. In the funny way that life happens, it took my decision to move to England for Ant and me to both get our shit together. I accepted my place at Durham University, and Ant (who had been dealing with literal years of me whining endlessly about what I should do with my life after school) was one of the first people I called. He came over, I was pretty much high with excitement, and somehow in the craziness of it all we finally found the words to share the truth with each other about how we felt. I mean, it’s a flawless plan, right? Tell your best friend that you’re actually in love with them right before you move overseas – that way, if your friendship is over, you’ll be far far away and won’t have to deal with the awkwardness. Except it’s a terrible, terrible plan if it turns out that your best friend is in love with you, too.
What followed was a brief time of total joy as we were finally able to be totally real with each other, followed by a less brief time of total pain as we struggled with the hazards and heartbreaks of long-distance relationships, and then an inevitable painful breakup. Today, Ant and I can both admit full-heartedly that breaking up was the best thing that happened to us, as bizarre as that sounds. During our time apart (when we broke up, we eventually resolved to cut our contact completely – being in touch was just too hard) we both had flings, casual dates, and serious long-term relationships. And we’re always keen to stress that, despite the fact that we would eventually get back together, the relationships we had after we broke up were by no means meaningless. We both fell in love with people, grew in those relationships, and were ultimately sad when things didn’t work out. And when the time was right for us to get back together, about 3 years ago, we were ready for the kind of relationship that we just couldn’t have sustained as teenagers.
Ant and I have had this running joke since we got back together – whenever I (or Ant, or anyone really) would bring up babies or weddings or generally just the idea of us getting married, Ant would say, “Yeah yeah, when we get married, in 2025!” Hilariously, I can’t count the number of times people took him seriously and started to feel very very worried that he was going to make me wait until 2025 before he proposed. I had family friends, and parents of friends, and friends themselves take me aside and ask if I was okay, did I mind that he didn’t want to get married for at least 10 more years. So, you can imagine how I cried (and cried and cried and cried – but out of happiness) when Ant called me at 6:20am on a Thursday morning (having already left for work) to say that he’d left his wallet at home, and could I just throw it down off the balcony to him – I pulled myself out of bed (still very much asleep) and walked into our lounge to discover that the entire room had been decorated as if there had been a huge party there – with the words ‘Happy New Year 2025’ spelled out in giant gold letters on the window.
What will no doubt follow in the months to come is some hardcore wedding planning (we’re aiming for a December celebration, watch this space) and a lot of fun with my very best friend, who I can’t believe I get to call my husband soon. It’s not the best story, but it’s ours, and I can’t wait to dance the funky chicken on our 80th wedding anniversary and warn our granddaughters of the perils of letting a boy lift you places on the back of his scooter and fill your iPod with wonderful music – I mean, just look where it got us.
The future Mrs O’Connell