~They say absence makes the heart grow fonder~Most of you will already know the story of Carl and I, so I'm going to try and keep this as brief as possible (pfffft! yeah right! This is motor-mouth Amanda, here!) But for those of you who are new, stock up on some tissues, grab a cup of coffee, put your feet up and enjoy our long-winded love story.
For all of the 10 years we've been together Carl and I have been plagued by the Atlantic Ocean. The truth of the matter is that in some way, shape or form we always will be. For years I would cry myself to sleep wishing he were with me, and spend my days counting down the hours and minutes until our next reunion. But flights don't come cheap and money certainly doesn't grow on trees. And when you're young it's hard to understand that everything happens for a reason, that there's no use crying over spilled milk. From the age of 14 I had to learn to be patient and believe that everything would work out. I'm so grateful that it has and I thank my lucky stars every single day that we're happily together. I don't ever have to say goodbye to my baby again and that's the biggest weight off of my shoulders. Ya see, I have this bitter hatred of goodbyes. I'm one of those people who now only believes in see you laters.
Since the beginning of our relationship Carl and I established that we would settle in America. This wasn't something I ever had to ask him. It has always been his decision to make the final move and something we agreed together would be best for us and our children in the long run. I made the choice to move to England and complete my degree here as I wanted the opportunity to travel and form relationships with Carl's friends and family. I also wanted to give him the chance to spend as much time as possible in his home. Over my 4 years in Liverpool Carl and I grew even closer than we ever thought possible, his family became my family, his friends my friends, and his home my home.
From the time Carl asked me to marry him we were well aware that it was easiest, for immigration reasons, if we were already married when we made the move back to the US. And for the entire year of our engagement I was admit that I didn't want any form of a wedding in England as I didn't want it to detract from the "big wedding" planned for Vermont in 2013. I was so afraid people would think "why are they having TWO?!" "They're so greedy!" "They're already married, why the hell are they having another ceremony and reception? Why should I even go?" (I've since discovered that I no longer care what people think about our weddings or how we chose to do things). In all honesty, originally Carl and I were going to elope and get married. I wasn't going to change my last name, we weren't going to wear wedding rings or tell a soul we were husband and wife. It was primarily for immigration reasons, and would allow us the time to save up for the big wedding at home and still stay together in the meantime. That was, until conversations with my Mother-in-law and Momma. After long discussions they convinced me that perhaps it would be nice to have a simple and small celebration for our English friends and family who couldn't afford to make the big journey across the pond in 2013. As the days went by and I continued to ponder the "English wedding" idea I quickly began to realize that perhaps I was being selfish. In my head I had been consumed with thoughts about how others would portray our marriage and celebrations, my idea of the 'perfect' day and what was viewed as 'conventional'; when really I needed to consider people like Carl's elderly Nana (who I love dearly), friends and family. As my parents and grandmother were already due to visit England the 2nd week of July for my University graduation, Carl and I agreed to get married then so they could still be a part of it. It was an especially hard decision for me and the truth of the matter is that I cried on many occasions as I knew my sister wouldn't be able to make the trip with such short notice. Nevertheless, my mother reassured me that I was making the right decision. She reminded me that I would still get my dream wedding where I wear my dream wedding dress and am surrounded by ALL of my friends and family. I'd still get the opportunity to take part in all of the traditions I'd dreamed about since I was 5. She brought to light a very important fact. That this was something which showed how blessed I was. Not many people get 'two' special weddings.
The saying 'Mom knows best' is pure truth and looking back I'm so thankful my Momma is so wise and supportive. She was right all along and I truly wouldn't have had it any other way. Thus far, mine and Carl's love story hasn't ever been straight forward and easy. We've always been presented with trying circumstances and we've always overcome them. Our relationship has taken a lot of time and dedication. It's hard work and it's unique. It's only fitting that our wedding be just the same. I've resigned myself to the fact that due to our circumstances Carl and I will always have to work a bit harder than other couples to get what we want and make our dreams come true. That used to bother me, but now I understand that in reality that's made us stronger than ever and I know deep down in my heart we're capable of achieving anything. We have the drive and commitment to achieve any goal we set. That damn Atlantic Ocean can multiply or triple for all I care. It'll never keep us apart. I find great comfort in knowing that.
~July 16th 2011~
Saturday morning, as 5:45 rolled around and my alarm began to scream, I laid wide awake with a stiff neck listening to the monsoon- like weather outside. As our wedding was planned in such short notice (just 5 hasty weeks. Yes, you read that correctly. I planned our wedding in a total of 5 weeks) we could only get a 10am appointment in a registry office for our ceremony. Our day started off bright and early...really it was too bright and early. In all honesty I never really slept the night before. Toni, my matron-of-honor, and I spent the night on couch cushions on the floor. The boys (My Carl, Toni's Carl, Rob, my Dad and Papa Garry) spent the night at mine and Carl's apartment while the girls (My Mom and Grandma, Toni and Mama Lynne) spent the night in my in-laws. There weren't enough beds and Toni and I felt bad having one of the Mom's or my Grandma sleep on the couch, so we opted to make a bed out of couch cushions on the living room floor and desperately attempted to catch some Zs with a nest of itchy and unbelievably painful Velcro rollers stabbing our skulls. (I don't recommend this to any other bride and the night before our big wedding back home I will be in a bed and completely roller-less. It was an epic sleep fail. For cereal).
To my surprise I was remarkably calm as everyone else frantically bustled around me. Halfway through attempting to eat a piece of toast, Carl's best friend and best man, Rob (who I affectionately refer to as Bobert) sent me an adorable text. It was then it dawned on me that regardless of the fact it was small and nothing like I'd always envisioned, my wedding day had finally arrived. In a couple of hours I would be Mrs. Amanda Anderson. The butterflies attacked my stomach and I tried my very hardest not to throw up those 3 mouthfuls of toast I'd just forced down. In order to calm my nerves I continued with my photo-taking fiasco (we had no photographer so a camera never left my side), and I tried my hardest to ignore the fact that the weather was getting progressively worse. I never counted the amount of times family members reassured me that 'rain on your wedding day is good luck!' but it must have been near 20. They weren't wrong, either. So far it's proved to be true.
Our ceremony was quick, and believe it or not we don't have a single picture. Haha! Carl and I wrote our own vows, and we'll use them again when we renew them in Vermont. My Momma read a wonderful poem I found, Jason Mraz 'I'm Yours' softly played as the Registrar signed our final paperwork, and we walked out of the wedding chamber holding hands to my beloved Coldplay - Yellow. It was simple. It wasn't in my church. We had no bridesmaids and groomsmen, only Toni and Rob. I wore a dress I'd picked by myself off of a high street clearance rack, and my hair was frizzy due to the rain, but it was perfect. We stood among our closest friends and family and pledged our love.
We held our simple reception at the same hotel where Carl proposed to me. In fact, Carl and I spent our first night as man and wife in the same exact room he proposed. We were lucky in that nearly all of our guests joined us in spending the weekend at the hotel too. It was quaint and very English. It was simple and DIY (I made everything myself). It was hassle free. It was lovely. It was 'us'.
There were many tears that day. Tears from yours truly. Tears from the matron of honor and best man. Tears from my Daddy. The pictures above are my favorite pictures of the entire day. They're blurry and unprofessional but they're beautiful. I've only ever seen my father cry twice in my life. He's a 'manly man' and one of those who believes that men don't cry. But when his voice cracked and got muffled as he spoke words of appreciation towards Carl's friends and family for looking after his daughter, it melted my heart. I sobbed uncontrollably in my hands and even now I cry as I type this.
Daddy-o, I don't think I've ever told you how much your speech made my heart happy. It truly did. I was overflowing with appreciation, love and gratitude. I was floating on cloud nine. Thank you for being so open, honest and genuine. It truly meant the world and I'm SO thankful you were there to share my special day with me. I look so forward to finally sharing our first father-daughter dance and walking down the aisle of a church. It's not too long now! I'm trying my hardest to be patient.Carl's Nana got Carl and I a lovely wedding cake from a local bakery, which had calla lilies in the corner to match my bouquet, and our initials intertwined on the top. The wedding coordinator from the hotel showed us how to 'officially' cut the cake, but Carl, being the twonk he is, ignored the resistance and attempted to saw his way through thick ribbon. Hahaha! I haven't posted the picture of the damage, but trust me, it's embarrassing and HILARIOUS. Only Carl and I could butcher a cake that way...well, only Carl could butcher a cake that way.
That rainy Saturday morning we said our 'I do's' and became man and wife. I was the happiest girl in the whole entire world and it is a day I will never forget, as long as I live. Regardless of the fact Carl and I have never had a first dance, I never threw my bouquet, I've never enjoyed a father daughter dance, and we've never been on a honeymoon; I am so thankful we had our English wedding and I feel truly blessed to have been able to share it with our closest friends and family in Liverpool. It may not have been 'traditional' or 'conventional' but then again, neither is our relationship. Life is what you make of it, and I'm one of those kinda girls who, when handed lemons, makes a hell of a lot of sweet, sweet lemonade.
~ One year later ~
The weekend of July 16th 2012 we found ourselves once again in Southport enjoying the beauty of an oldy worldy English hotel. We held hands as we walked along the lake, kissed so much Carl's parents often screamed 'get a room!' (to which I was a smart ass and replied - "we've got one!") and indulged in good weather, company and good food. It was relaxing. It was low-key and effortless. It was truly wonderful.Sunday morning I was in the process of recovering from my Hen Party the night before (if you missed out on that fun, do click the link and read. It's hilarious). I'd be lying if I said I was chipper and I didn't feel like I was going to barf. But thankfully Mama Lynne told me of her friend who swears by ice cream as a hangover cure. I was desperate, so we ventured to the nearest ice cream truck, and ya wanna know whats hilarious?...it WORKED! Within an hour I had a spring in my step and could remove the blackout sunglasses. I felt human again. What was even more wonderful was that after the craptastic weather we've had ALL summer long, the sun had it's hat on. It was a beautiful summer day and we spent the entire afternoon enjoying all that Southport had to offer.
During our last visit, Carl and I had spotted a new Italian restaurant which had recently opened. During our afternoon of gallivanting we all popped by one last time to check out the menu, and after a good 5 minutes of drooling, booked a table for that evening. We headed back to our hotel rooms for the rest of the afternoon in order to indulge in a cat nap and some primping before heading out to our anniversary meal.
The food at Trattoria 51 was truly DELICIOUS and I'm SO glad we chose there for our anniversary dinner. It gets 5 stars and rave reviews from previous customers. I'm not one of those people to promote somewhere that was, in reality, shit, so trust me when I say there wasn't a single thing we didn't enjoy. I'm sure you know by now that I'm not a big fan of meat, but I even enjoyed Carl's homemade meatballs and his chili honey glazed chicken. Our meals were TO.DIE.FOR. I got a Potato and Leek soup for my appetizer and a marinara chili penne dish for my main meal. They were both heavenly. The staff was so inviting, accommodating and hilarious. The little Italian guy who waited on us for the evening would situate my plate beautifully in front of me as to optimize my pictures. Baha! He even said "you take picture while I grate cheese? Get it falling on the pasta? It's a good effect, no?" Haaa! Adorable! And he was right. I sit here drooling as I look at that pasta.After our meal we headed to our beloved Scarisbrick Hotel (the same hotel from our engagement and wedding) for some of our favorite Maloney's Bar cocktails. As I was still a bit fragile from the night before, I only indulged in one fruity drink, but Carl was sucking down his White Russians like it was nobody's business! We enjoyed about an hour of fun in Maloney's before the sleepiness crept in and we decided to head back to our rooms. Within 20 minutes of taking our shoes off and nestling into the comfy bed I was smacking Carl for snoring and he was getting aggravated as I annoyingly announced in my sleep how "the goddamn blankets are too HOT!"
We woke early-ish in time to meet Mama Lynne and Papa Garry for some breakfast in the hotel. After filling our boots with very diet-unfriendly food, Lynne and Garry handed us a handful of anniversary cards and we all retired to our rooms for a bit of a lounge around before check-out. Carl and I exchanged our anniversary cards to one another, read those from our loved ones and reminisced about how a year ago at that exact same time we were saying our vows. It was sappy and I loved it.
I still can't believe it's been a whole YEAR since we kissed and became husband and wife. Where has the time gone? How can it possibly be that long?
The past 12 months have been the best of my life. Together, Carl and I have accomplished so many goals, we've set new ones, dusted each other off during hard times, laughed until we cried, discovered more annoying habits about one another, argued over who loves the other more, said goodbye to our first apartment, tackled the immigration process and are preparing for our big move home. Of course there have been stressful moments, days where we've fought like cats and dogs and wanted to punch the other square in the nose. We've cussed at one another, threatened to kick Xbox consoles and stormed off with our arms folded. But we've also grown to love each other more and more. Every one of the past 365 days we've done our special kiss before bed. We've admired our rings and matching last name. We've
discussed, argued, agreed on baby names. We've planned for and got more and more excited for what our future holds. There isn't any other person in this entire world who I'd rather share my life with. I feel truly blessed to have found the peanut butter to my jelly, the fellow pea in my pod, the ranch dressing to my pizza. I have a man who loves me and goes out of his way to make me laugh. Standing together I know that we can accomplish anything we put our minds to. It's invigorating.
Baby, I love you (more) from the very bottom of my heart. I couldn't have asked for a better person to share my life with and I thank you for being my partner in crime. You are my sunshine, my only sunshine.