As I write this, there are 290 days, 23 hours and 49 minutes to go until Sarge and I stick a hyphen between our last names. Because this is an equal relationship.
We have been ‘trying to save money for the wedding’ since we got engaged. Having said that, Sarge recently admitted he’d been carrying around Frodo Bob Ring-Box since before we went to New York, so maybe he’s been saving longer than that.
Without taking a screen-shot of the wedding fund, it’s safe to say there could always be more in there.
In order to cover the to-do list and throw a really good party because we’re only going to do this once, we have come to certain agreements. Turns out they’re flexible.
No book-buying. Unless it’s second-hand, for the book group, or a birthday. This one is mostly for me. Saying that, if Sarge didn’t collect his own books, we probably wouldn’t need to save for a wedding anyway. We’ve discussed this.
No take-out. Unless it’s once a month. On a weekend. This one is going pretty well. This is also the cut-back that will ‘enhance the silhouette’ of my wedding dress. Because it has one. And I always thought the idea was not to enhance it. But I’m wrong. Apparently. Go figure.
No movies. Unless previously owned. By us. This one is really just Sarge’s ploy to get me to watch more of his John Waters collection. Crafty bastard.
No cable TV. We own, or have borrowed, quite a few series box-sets. Currently working our way through Arrested Development, which will be followed by Dexter.
Cut down on non-zombie coffee made outside of the house. This is also mostly mine. And I’ve been failing at it. But I may try this frappuccino recipe.
No gym memberships. Sarge has taken his bike out of retirement and I can do laps. Anywhere. That also helps with the silhouette.
Do you have any fun money-saving tips? Other than I should get a job? Because I’ve been trying. And really, that’s a money-making tip. Not the same. What we’re trying to do is enhance the silhouette of the money we already have. Or something. Because there’s only 290 days, 22 hours and 23 minutes to go now.
On Monday, Sarge and I went to Newcastle (ish) to visit a friend of mine from University (the first one). She was the friend from this post and featured in the beginning of this one. Through no fault of our own we’d seen each other all of twice in five years. Before Monday, Em hadn’t met Sarge, and we are going on three.
Because I don’t have a job, and Sarge had a week off from his, we boarded a South-bound train after packing George and the robot and bumping into some coffee on the way.
Now. Another little known fact about me is that I can actually make myself sick with excitement. Really. Being happy/nervous/excited about anything makes me throw up. Or dry-heave. When I was a kid and the carnival moved in next door, I had to breathe into a paper bag before we left the house. One fateful night, I got to the top of the ferris wheel and threw up. I was up there with a friend who was a boy who decided then we should see other people. The whole experience left me with a phobia of vomiting.
These days, Sarge knows to either hold my hair back or get out of the way. And I do my part by skipping breakfast on what I call ‘high excitement’ days. And so, I didn’t have breakfast or lunch on the train.
When we got to the station, I got a text: I’ve had to stop the car and throw up. Be there soon. Xxx
Snap, I thought.
‘See’, I said to Sarge. ‘It isnae just me.’
So we went to the station pub. Sat for awhile, getting updates from Em. ‘I’m in the bathroom, waiting on Mum to drive us back now.’
‘This reunion is like ripping a Band-Aid off.’ I said, deciding to have a beer.
Her Mum found us first, recognising me by my hair. It’s still big.
After staring at each other for a while we got in the car. I was in the back. Now. Maybe because of my aforementioned phobia, I’ve only been carsick once. On my thirteenth birthday. On the way to the zoo. Very exciting. We never made it to the zoo. Still, it was one of the best days of my life.
The point is, sitting back there on Monday, I didn’t think I’d get sick. Until I did.
We got to Em’s house. And her stairs were too narrow for me to walk up, so I went up on my butt. Another throwback from childhood.
As I actually dragged ass over the threshold, I said, ‘We’re staying awhile.’
We had curry and chocolate and Em told Sarge the unabridged versions of some rather legendary stories.
The next day, Em had stuff to do, so Sarge and I went exploring. We ended up in a book shop, of course. Sifting through the second-hand ones, Sarge found me a Hemingway. ‘For you,’ he said.
We left the shop after they checked and double-checked Sarge’s Scottish money. ‘This IS a different country.’ I said.
We went to Em’s Mum’s house for a roast dinner. ‘We’ll have to move the trampoline so Lorna can get through the garden.’ That’s not a sentence you hear every day.
That night Sarge was schooled in how to julienne carrots. I didn’t help because the last time I touched a carrot I julienned my fingers. Em’s Grandma and Aunt arrived and it was lovely and weird to sit in on someone else’s family.
I dragged ass back up the stairs and fell asleep before more embarrassing stories could be told.
The next day I made a great discovery. Nutella and banana pancakes. Any extra calories were burned on the way down the stars.
Em took us around more quaint little shops. Everything I saw made me want to trade in our Ikea furniture for more grown up pieces.
We found a pub where I had a sneaky slice of cheesecake and then went home to make a dent in the bottle of rum we brought as a housewarming gift.
The next day, before tackling the stairs for the last time, Em and I might have made Sarge watch Practical Magic.
‘You’re Aidan Quinn,’ I said to Sarge.
Before we headed to the station we took a picture of The Oma on Hadrian’s Wall.
It was raining when we got home to Edinburgh. Not very exciting. I didn’t even throw up.
Sarge and I sent a few overseas and faraway invitations on Saturday. We went across the street to the post office, with me actually praying that I wouldn’t drop them.
We arrived safely at the post office and with each PAR AVION stamp applied; I dug my nails deeper into his shirt. This was not a metaphor for anything. Or a comment on the fact that we are suddenly more engaged now than before. I was just counting. Really hard.
However, when we dropped the stamped addressed envelopes into the somehow really bright red post box, I said, ‘It’s official now, unless you want to tip the box.’
When we got the samples, I was excited to read the details of strangers’ weddings. It’s even more mind-blowing to see our own names on there. Weird to think of those cards on their way to other people’s hands and hearts and houses.
I lay awake at 5.38 yesterday morning, wondering what people would think of the ‘no hat’ rule.
Wednesday was the start of Edinburgh’s Festival(s) season. Naturally, Sarge and I left town. We loaded my lap up with the box of wedding invitations, balanced my Dad’s birthday present on top of the box and went down-hill to the train station. Narrowly missing the heels of some tourists along the way. Nipping a tourist is 50 points. (Click here for more on what I think of tourist season, and a little more on how I came to be here.)
We boarded the train with our very local picnic and arrived at Dad’s house with a box, some books and Sarge’s nameless laptop.
Anne brought some KFC home for dinner, because it’s on the list of stuff Dad can eat these days. We talked about the wedding and started my addiction to this year’s Olympics. Athletics was the gateway.
After Dad and Anne went to bed, Sarge read and I scribbled, figuring out a major plot point for something I’m working on. As I wrote, I actually said, ‘Aha!’
‘Are you alright?’ Sarge peered at me over his book.
I stopped mid-sentence. And started the comedy portion of our evening just by going to bed. I’ve said before that getting onto and off of an air-mattress is, for me, like something out of an I Love Lucy episode. That’s still true. I checked.
The next morning, after removing my knee from Sarge’s spleen, we gave Dad his present. A book and a card that said: Happy Birthday, You Magnificent Old Fart! Because he is. All of those things.
Dad sent us on a mission to find fancy pens to write the invitations, and we went to the art store by way of the pub. Sitting there coaxing the sun out, we decided we were on holiday. And so, I took a photo of my beer. Because that’s what people do on holiday. Or is that just me?
After the pub, I was in the midst of texting my best friend to see if she was working. And she appeared. Seriously. I hadn’t sent the text.
‘How’d we do that?’
‘We just do.’
She introduced us to the two adorable little girls she looks after. And then they showed us the pictures they’d been drawing.
‘Better than anything I could do,’ I said. I asked the girls the only thing I can think of when presented with children these days. ‘Do you like penguins?’
The girls were so cute my womb might have skipped all the way down the street. We followed it into the art store.
We stopped in front of the pen racks. ‘Want, want.’ And I wasn’t talking about art supplies.
We did find two pens in different shades of purple. Sarge tested them out by writing PENGUINS. Of course. We bought 4 pens, and then went to find Dad the book he actually wanted for his birthday.
We’d all planned to go to a folk club that night. Dad was too tired to go, but sent us along with Anne and her Mum.
Now. To me, the sign of good music is stuff that makes me cry. None of the stuff we saw on Thursday did it for me. We did, however, overhear a very loud ‘conversation’ about 50 Shades of Grey. In the mixed company we were in, I may have wanted to cry from embarrassment. That’s the stuff memories are made of.
The next day, Dad wanted to get started on the invitations. Sarge made a spreadsheet from the list. Because he’s organised like that. I was looking up addresses on my email and Facebook messages. Dad wrote and wrote. He may have cried.
‘What’s happening?’ Sarge asked, looking up from his spreadsheet.
‘Dad’s just having a moment.’ I said.
‘Think of all the places these’ll go. All for you guys. You did a wonderful job. I want to be a fly on the wall when people open these.’
And then he listed some people who are gone, those who won’t be sending back an RSVP. And then I cried.
‘Next!’ I said.
And we ended up with this:
There will be more where those came from, when I send Dad another list of addresses. Like Sarge, Dad is more organised than I am.