There are some cultures in this world that have no concept of past or future. They live only in the now. The Piraha, an Amazonian rain forest tribe, will tell you that a wedding is taking place. But if you should ask ”when?”, they’ll reply “not now”. And then, at some appropriate moment – the choosing of which is something of a mystery – they will simply stop whatever they are doing and say: “the wedding is now”.
For those of us brought up in the Western tradition, where both the past and the future are different places, we mark our occasions with dates, hours and minutes. We keep diaries and complete calendars so that we can map our way backwards or forwards to these foreign lands.
In between Christmas and the New Year, one of the dates in our diaries was a visit to the Registry Office in Exeter.
Now, the process of getting married in the UK – as with many other countries – includes a certain amount of form-filling, pen-pushing and red tape. We have decided that our marriage will be marked by a ceremony of our own devising. It will be a sacred rite that is personal and important to us. In other words, we won’t be following a set text prescribed by the Church of England, the state of the United Kingdom or any other official body. But, in order for our marriage to be recognised in law we have to preface our ceremony with an official, legal process.
We had already booked a date and time (towards the end of May) for this process to take place at the official office in Exeter where all hatches, matches and dispatches – births, marriages and deaths – are registered. To confirm our booking, we each had to present evidence of our identity, our place of residence and our marital status.
Boxes were ticked, computer screens completed, forms printed and signed and a fee of £30 each was paid. The forms we signed are, right now, on display at the Registry Office in Exeter – a public announcement of our intention to wed.
The following day we began our preparations for New Year. We’d decided to make Beef Wellington for New Year’s Eve and secured a fine piece of filet mignon from our butcher Michael Howard, whose shop is just across the road from our home. Melinda has already talked about that meal on her blog.
This New Year’s Eve would be special in many ways for us. It would mark the end of our first full year together and the beginning of our second. It would mark the year in which we will marry. It would mark the beginning of a lifetime of new years, new experiences, new depths of love to explore.
So, we prepared the meal carefully. If you want the recipe we followed, you can find it at Cook’s Illustrated (although you may have to take out a trial subscription to see it ).
As in everything we do, the preparation of the meal was a joint effort in which – almost without discussion – we split tasks between us and, almost without thinking, did everything at the appropriate time. We have found, in our first year and months together, that – very often – a look or a glance is all we need to know what each of us is thinking.
When the meal was ready, we ate it at our table, in our home, surrounded by our candlelight.
In 2009 we had moved from being a couple separated by geographical distance to finding and setting up a home. We had created our engagement and wedding jewellery. We had shared experiences on a daily basis and shaped our dreams.
On New Year’s Eve – on the cusp of our second full year together – we looked back and saw the path we had travelled and knew that every step of the way we had taken hand in hand.
As the chimes on our clock rang out the twelve strokes of midnight, we could see the same path stretching into the distance. The path was lit by the light of a blue moon. A blue moon happens because the lunar and the solar monthly cycle are out of sync. And so, every so often, there are two full moons in a single month. This happens every couple of years. But, it only happens at New Year every 19 years.
In 2010, along that path lit by the blue moon, we will marry.
And that is only appropriate. Because each of us feel that it is only ‘once in a blue moon’ that a love like ours will flower. As the Piraha tribe might say: “the time for the wedding is now”.