This past Christmas Eve I proposed to my fiancé. The proposal was quiet, just the two of us. We went to a family holiday party that night and my family didn’t know what I had planned until Cindy posted a ring pic on Facebook the next day. I had thought about grander things: fancy dinner, ring in a champagne flute, all that. What I did instead occurred just between the two of us. It was a quiet moment just for us, and it felt right.
Actually, taking the step of proposing didn’t feel like the way pop culture had led me to believe that it would. Watch enough sitcoms as a guy and they’ll tell you that you’ll be dragged kicking and screaming into matrimony like you’re some kid being dragged off to a lifelong timeout. Watch the romance movies Cindy makes me watch and you’re told the decision will overwhelm you, first with apprehension and then with passion. Before you know it, you’re lost in some coked-out screenwriters’ version of romance, spending all your time blaring boom boxes outside her window and writing messages to her on cue cards while her husband is in the next room. It wasn’t some middle ground between them, either. For the first time since I had to start worrying about adult nonsense (grad school loans, rent, the rapidly approaching and inevitable march towards the grave, etc.), I felt peaceful. A lasting peace. No fear, no sudden onset of passion that dissipates after a few dates, just a deep assurance that I’d made the right decision.
Finding her was the hard part. Everything since has been easy.
The preparations for our wedding ceremony started almost immediately and things came together with all the satisfaction of the last few puzzle pieces clicking into place. The venue was found, the guest list made, the menu decided, the playlist created, tweaks for yet-to-be-released bangers notwithstanding. Cindy knew what she wanted and we found just those things with relative ease. She also attacked our approaching honeymoon with the same energy. Our discussion about it was quick, and our top choices matched almost perfectly. England, Scotland, Ireland and Spain. As a literature dork, I’ve loved English crap most of my life, which was made only worse when I studied abroad there in college. Cindy fell in love with Spain during our vacation there last summer, and I’ll go basically anywhere I can get sunshine, red wine, and high quality ham all in the same place.
This section of the blog is my way of learning about the first places I’ll go after I take the biggest step of my life hand in hand with the woman I couldn’t imagine taking that step without. The plan is to read every book I can find by writers from the U.K., Ireland and Spain. Any format and any genre. From science fiction and children’s literature to works of history, travelogues and anything else I can get my hands on. Timeless classics to modern releases to crap you probably shouldn’t waste your time with if it wasn’t part of a blog you’re dedicating to your wife. Whether they intend it or not, these books are informed by the experiences and cultural norms of those that write them. I figure if I dig deep enough, each book I read from now until the honeymoon will teach me something about where we go.
More importantly though, I hope this project will help to in some way legitimize why I have so many fucking books in the first place. Books are supposed to make you smarter, teach about places you’ve never been. They put hair on your chest, deepen your voice and build the chest muscles gals at the beach can’t resist. I may have confused books with Charles Atlas workouts in that last sentence. Anyway, they might not do all that, but reading does help your concentration and your ability to appreciate fine details. When I take my soon-to-be wife on this honeymoon, I want remember every detail. Appreciate every aspect of every street we walk down and bar we get a drink at. I want to luxuriate in every detail of London, Madrid, Edinburgh and Dublin so that I see so I can tell my kids about those places whenever they start arriving.
As I’m writing this and thinking about the places I hope to be visiting a little over a year from now, neither my fiancé or I can really leave the house due to COVID-19. Our honeymoon and all the fun and freedom that entails seems really far away right about. Hopefully this project will make quarantine go by just a little bit faster so that we can start our married life together.
Plus, it’s a great excuse to read all the books I’ve been promising I’d read, but haven’t yet.