I don’t plan to post about nothing all that often, but in the spirit of promising I would post on a semi-regular basis, I want to say a few words about an important milestone.
This past Sunday, I had my one year wedding anniversary.
We could have two anniversaries, since we had a second wedding (technically, a ‘renewal of vows’) ceremony in England. We did this my family could afford to take the trip (obviously, plane ticket to England < plane ticket to Australia), and so that James’ family in England could celebrate with us.
No matter when you start counting, it’s been a very good year. We celebrated with a dinner at my favourite vegetarian restaurant in Perth, Genesis in the Hills. (Admittedly not my favourite restaurant in Perth, I am afraid. That title goes to a Thai restaurant called Saowanees in North Perth.)
I don’t have much to say about the meal, especially since I wrote about Genesis already over at vegaroo! here. The menu changes regularly, according to the seasons and what is in their garden. We don’t have many completely vegetarian restaurants in Perth, but this is by far the best vegetarian restaurant we do have, and always worth the money. Even better – and well-suited to our personalities – this meal was free because we had a gift certificate. The staff at Genesis is friendly, they remember me and they were even showing a photography exhibition of a friend. Plus, it’s in the hills (i.e. the Darling Scarp), which is always a little greener than the rest of Perth.
Afterwards, we went on a walk in the beautiful ‘winter’ weather (read: cool and pleasant, rather than baking in the intense Australian sun). From the earliest days of dating, James and I have taken walks together. It’s one of the few forms of exercise on which we can both agree. As people who both enjoy a good introspective walk alone more than a romantic stroll, there’s something to be said for the fact that some of our most pleasant afternoons and evenings involve a walk. Perhaps we are just old at heart.
I also gave James a letter. The first year is, after all, the paper anniversary. I had to celebrate somehow, and we’re not much for excessive gift-giving in this house.
Probably the most important part of the day for me was writing the letter. I wrote it early in the morning, when my brain works best, and it helped me reflect on the last year. Obviously, the marriage has played a huge role in shaping the last 12 months. From a relationship perspective, it has been exactly how I thought it would be when we got married on 12 June 2010, and that is to say: it’s been excellent. As someone who was skeptical of marriage – and pretty opposed to it for myself only a few years ago – this in itself a big deal.
However, in many ways, this past year has been quite uneventful for me. I am continuing to work, as I have been doing for about 7 years. I am still learning every day, but I am feeling confident in what I do. I am living abroad, sure, but I have been doing that for nearly four years. This is my home now, and the ‘newness’ has indeed faded a bit. On the whole, this year has been filled with the typical ups and downs of life, but it has not been full of monumental events. I traveled to a few places I loved, either again (England and Wales) or for the first time (Scotland and Norfolk Island).
At the same time, I have been feeling a bit sorry for myself because of the lack of major milestones in my life. I am still in limbo in many ways, in part because of the typical struggles of being an ex-pat and making plans to return to study for a PhD. There are other ongoing struggles that are little, but important to me, like struggling to find fulfilling volunteer work at the right organisation for me. I will avoid delving too deep into the navel-gazing, but suffice it to say this year has brought more moments of feeling sorry for myself than I am used to. In part, it’s a product of more free time and a brain that does not cope with that well.
Writing the letter, however, helped me to realise that I have no reason to be sorry. This was a ‘big year’ because I got married, but also because I found myself in a place where I finally had the time to reflect on what I am doing, what I want to do next, and how I am going to get there. Years past have always been filled with school or a new job, moving to a new country, or falling in love. Despite the feeling of limbo (or perhaps as a result?) this year was probably the most stable year of my adult life. Not coincidentally, it was also the year that I realised how different reflection on my life can feel amidst this new-found stability. I would say it is that I have finally become an adult, but that’s not it. Not one to dwell on the romanticism of adolescence or young adulthood, I’ve been an adult for a while.
Whilst writing the letter, the conclusion I finally came to is this: I thought marriage would teach me how to better look toward the future. To my surprise, it taught me how important it is to be in the present. If I don’t, I just might find myself feeling misinterpreting a very good year for a mediocre one, simply because it wasn’t a series of achievements. Life doesn’t always have to be able creating a better resume or experiencing new things. Sometimes it’s simply about appreciating what you have, right here and now.