Monday, August 12, 2013

278 Days : A post from Jim. The day we got engaged...

... was unexpected by most.  But why so?  Amy and I have been together for more than 10 years, are very much in love, and hopelessly committed to one another –  that our friends and family should be in any way surprised might seem odd.  However, those close to us (or me, more specifically) will probably have endured a diatribe or two on the state and religion, and in the institution of marriage we find the toxic entanglement of these two pernicious poisons.  Yes comrades, I’m an anarchist, and in the popular imagination anarchists are far too busy smashing Starbucks windows to even consider getting hitched.  In fact, they’re probably pointing out the historic role of marriage in the sexual division of labour (for the benefit of capital), the indoctrinating role of the family unit (for the benefit of state and church), and the subjugation of half of the world’s population (for the benefit of the bepenised half).  And I wholly concur!  The institution of marriage, like all institutions, is deeply flawed.  So how was it that I ended up on top of a windswept hill on bended knee with a sparkly rock (/small stone)?

(Previously ignorant readers might now understand the surprise of our friends and family.  And our friends and family are probably rolling their eyes at yet another Jim-rant.  Don’t worry, it lightens up – keep reading folks!)

The institution of marriage is horrid.  Fine.  But it would not have been tolerated for so many hundreds of years if it were not based upon some worthy kernel.  I’ve been lucky enough to have some special people show me the real value of companionship, deep mutual understanding, love, and how an expression of commitment bolsters all of that.  (Also, a wedding is a great excuse for a massive fucking party.)  This is the nail on which the institution of marriage hangs all its oppressive baggage.  The trick, as far as I see it, is to liberate the positive attributes of marriage from all the nonsenses that cling to, and eventually choke it.  For helping reveal this to me I thank Emma Goldman, Paul and Jen Michael, and (though she may be surprised to read it) my mum.  Amy has already explained a lot of the details of our wedding planning, and how we’re disposing with the negative aspects of tradition while preserving the most meaningful (and FUN) parts.  For me, put simply, our wedding day is an incredibly personal expression of love and commitment that we want to share with our friends and family – and I’ll be damned if I allow the state or church ANY interference in that.

(If you’ve stuck it out this long, well done.  You can have the gossipy goodness of the actual proposal now.  Hurrah!)

I decided to ask Amy to marry me after I had emigrated across the Irish Sea.  I missed her madly, and (after a month or two) she had shown massive commitment by moving to England to be with me.  2012 was a leap year, so I thought I might détourne convention and propose on the 29th of February (traditionally when women are ‘allowed’ to propose to men) – but the tedious obstructions of work schedules forced me into shifting to the 28th.  Despite having to do some creative ducking-and-diving (which Amy will fill you in on), everything was set-up - ring in hand, restaurant booked, and father-in-law duly noted.  That’s an ostensibly tradition-laden approach, which I probably ought to defend.

  • The ring.   I like the symbolism of the ring – an unbroken band to be worn ‘til death (apart from when kneading dough), though the price-tag was a tough compromise to swallow.  Ouch.  I had picked out the ring at a place called Robinson’s, because Amy’s surname was above the door, obviously.  I’m not much of a jewellery aficionado, but I had an idea of the styles that Amy might like, and in the end there was only one ring that really caught my eye – seems to have done the job!

  • The restaurant.  Any excuse for a good feed really.

  • And the call to the father-in-law?  It may stink of a vestige from the bad old days of wife-as-property, but I intended it as a mark of respect to Amy’s parents.  Fuck-the-law – yes; piss-off-the-in-laws no.  Seriously though, having Neil’s support meant a lot and actually telling someone about my proposal plan made the whole thing seem suddenly very real.

All I had to do was get Amy to a suitably lovely spot, on some false pretence, and go for it.  My two thoughts for question-popping places were: Bradgate Park, a very nice place indeed with some very ancient trees and free-roaming deer; or the top of a quite high slide in a nearby play park.  The logistical difficulties of persuading Amy to the top of a slide made the choice easy....  It was a greyish, cold day, and it took some exuberance to persuade Amy to drive us out there.  We marched up the hill with our cargo of flapjacks, juice, and a concealed diamond ring.  I was quite giddy with nerves, and still not exactly sure how I might ask the question.  Fortunately for me, Amy unearthed some aptly soppy texts I had sent her over the previous few months and read them out to me – probably to check I still meant it!  My gushy proclamations of love set the mood perfectly.  Once we were ensconced on the memorial at the highest point of Bradgate Park, I took my chance.  I readied the ring in my pocket, and stepped back to take a photograph, then whipped out the box, opened it, and said something to the effect of, ‘Would you do me the honour of becoming my wife?’  (Cleverer readers will have deduced this already, but...)  SHE SAID YES!

Organising the wedding day has been really fun, but the part I’m really looking forward to is spending the rest of my life with the person I love most.

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