Sunday, May 07, 2006

Happy birthday J

It's J's birthday today. The man I love, who has asked me to be his wife. We have been together for seven years, we met at a party, both of us had mutual friends but we had never met. I saw him, taller than everyone else in the room, and I danced, caught his eye, moved closer. We went up onto the roof of the building where the party was held to look at the stars. When it was time to leave I asked him if he was coming with me. He followed me down the stairs, we went to another party, we danced all night, and we have been together ever since.

We moved in together after six months, to a damp rented flat in Wood Green. It had an enormous, unmanageable garden, which we tried to make beautiful together. By July 2002 we had succeeded on a limited budget, and we had dug a bed and filled the garden with flowers including spectacular hanging baskets that required constant watering and protection from the marauding slugs. I watched with pride as he passed his solicitors' exams after long hours of studying at night school. We spent money we did not have on holidays. The brutal pace of his job was forgotten as we walked in hot far away countries, having surfed the net for cheap last minute deals. We qualified as scuba divers and swam with sea turtles and stingrays. We danced and threw parties, let off fireworks with ridiculously-terrifying consequences. We adopted goldfish, and disastrously, two house rabbits, who chewed through every wire and gnawed all the furniture in the flat, before being rehomed.

We survived my near-murder and savage rape at the hands of a sadistic stranger who broke into our home whilst J was kept late at work , and I will always remember how he arrived in hospital after that long bitter night, and took my hand, and said 'Oh Honey', looking at me as if I was beautiful, when my face was battered and swollen beyond recognition. We moved from Wood Green from the home we had loved that I could no longer bear to look at, because I had lain there covered in blood and tied up with wire, and we did not give up, though I was in a strange, terrifying hinterland of remembered horrors and frozen fears. We made a new start, renting a place with barred windows and a steel door within noisy earshot of Arsenal stadium. (J is a Leeds supporter and bore local success with Yorkshire stoicism.) We made it a peaceful refuge: then we moved to another flat: it seemed that as soon as we settled, the landlords wanted to sell.

Everywhere we lived, we planted gardens, though we were renting and knew that we would not see the full glory of the bulbs we buried. We bought our first flat in June 2004, and moved in with Miff the fat rescued tabby, whom J had suggested would be a companion in the bleak, numb days when I was off work recovering from the rape attack.

On 7 July last year I kissed him goodbye and hurried to the tube for an ordinary Thursday at the office. An hour later I was texting him from Russell Square, wondering if he was on the train behind me, wondering if he was still alive. He walked across London and found me black-faced and bloodied and shuddering, sky-high on adrenalin in a cafe in Euston, and we walked hand in hand to a pub, my heart soaring because it was all right, we were both still here.

When we are apart I miss him, physically. The bed is too big, the frying pan too wide, as Joni Mitchell sang. The chatter of sports commentators on TV from the sitting room, the pad of his feet in the hall, the reading out snippets from the Sunday papers and his shoulder that I doze on as we sit on the sofa make the weekend sweet. He works too hard, he is brave and loyal and clever and passionate and stubborn. He takes a craftsman's pride in a job well done, and animals will come to his hands, even the goldfish eat from his fingers. He loves music and dancing and flowers and sport and rare steak and fish pie and crunchy vegetables and cheese and red wine. His arms around my waist and the smell of his neck are home.

I want to have children with this man, my beloved. Ti amo sempre, J and many happy returns. I hope I celebrate birthdays with you for the rest of our lives.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your writing is so beautiful and has moved me to tears - again. I hope you will be happy forever and ever. Thank you for writing.

May 07, 2006 5:51 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

You have made a damn good case for me to believe that you love this guy! Very very best wishes to you both.

May 07, 2006 5:52 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats such a lovely post.

I hope that in 7 years I'm saying the same about my special someone.

Happy birthday J - I hope you both have a wonderful day!

May 07, 2006 6:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Out of chaos comes order. I do hope that you have gone through the worst that life can throw at you. Be safe, be happy.

May 07, 2006 7:47 pm  
Blogger Donna said...

What a beautiful entry. Thanks for sharing. I feel like that about my man too, although we haven't been together as long as you.

I just found your blog through Laura's log, and am adding you to my list of regular reads!

May 07, 2006 8:02 pm  
Blogger Sila said...

Hi Rach,
Happy Birthday J!!
I wish I had seen you when you came to Spain. Unfortunately I was unable to meet up. I was really looking forward seing you again. But I will hopefully see you on the 16th.
Take care and enjoy love!!

May 07, 2006 9:08 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Happy birthday John. Looking forward to buying you a birthday drink, and Rachel a celebratory one.

May 07, 2006 10:07 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hello rachel,
i just came back from a 5 mile power walk using my new nike and reebok gear. happy birthday to u j and im glad to hear all is well;i hope u guys had a great time in spain;alas i can only go to el mariachi-our local spanish restaurant.

cheers,seth :)

May 07, 2006 10:46 pm  
Blogger Zhoen said...

Now, this is a marriage I can cheer on with a full eager heart. If you both still like each other after all that, nothing will ever seem hard.

I am so happy for you both.

May 08, 2006 12:06 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


May 08, 2006 1:06 am  
Blogger Davide Simonetti said...

Long life and happiness to you both

May 08, 2006 1:58 am  
Blogger Ally said...

I hope you both had a lovely day ...

May 08, 2006 8:52 am  
Blogger Bumble Bee said...

Oh Rach,
What a beautiful post. I feel the same about M after only 3.5years and hope i am still there at 7.
Happy birthday J!!! Many wishes and happiness for the year ahead.
See you on the 16th hun.

May 08, 2006 9:49 am  
Blogger Furtheron said...

Dear Rachel - you've been through more than is necessary in life to recognise the good from the bad. You are so lucky to have found such a love. Best wishes to both of you.

May 08, 2006 11:38 am  
Blogger Oscar Wildebeest said...

Splendid, hearfelt writing. Light from the shadows. We need more of this kind of sincerity in the world. Good luck, and a happy birthday to your partner.

May 08, 2006 12:50 pm  
Blogger Unknown said...

Tears here too, what a beautiful post. I hope you have a long and happy life together, it sounds as though you both deserve it.

Happy Birthday to J, hope it's a good 'un.

May 08, 2006 12:58 pm  
Blogger Tony Ferguson said...

Rachel I have been reading your blog for a while (and even linked here) and I admire your courage for what you have been through. I am so glad you have J to support you - please pass on my best wishes and here is hoping he gets a belated present this evening!! Marching on Together!

May 08, 2006 1:36 pm  
Blogger Holly Finch said...

big happy birthday to J!
sorry i ate his fish pie!

May 08, 2006 3:41 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Found your blog after reading about WeMedia on bbc news site the other day... I've just spent rather more time than I should've done reading your posts and various articles (soddit, there's more to life than that mountain of papers I'm studiously avoiding!) and felt moved to leave a comment. Your birthday post is, quite simply, beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

May 08, 2006 4:04 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like to see FTL find something cynical to say about that ...

Thanks for sharing with us Rachel.


May 09, 2006 2:00 pm  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thank you so much for all your kind messages and good wishes. We had a lovely day, we went out for a seafood feast and chilled out all day long.

(P.S: FJL has been asked not to contact me or comment any more, so hopefully that will be the end of that rather odd episode as I have found it all very disconcerting to say the least.)

May 09, 2006 2:19 pm  
Blogger Ceridwen Devi said...

Rachel, this posting has brought me to tears. If anyone deserves a happy ending it's you. So here's the biggest Ceridwen mojo in my cauldron. May Mother Terra bless you.

May 10, 2006 8:10 pm  
Blogger Ceridwen Devi said...

World in the palm of your hand This is for you.

May 11, 2006 6:47 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was too cut up to post when I first read it. It brings it all back to me.

Keep writing.

May 12, 2006 9:37 pm  
Blogger Rob said...

A wonderful post, Rachel. I wish you both every happiness: you deserve it.

May 13, 2006 12:22 am  
Blogger Nick said...

Rachel - this brought tears to my eyes. Long life, much happiness, wonderful children & a peaceful Britain to both of you.

May 14, 2006 1:38 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi there read and refesh my mind of what you have been though leaves my body covered in goose bump and my heart heavy...but the love and tenderness u2 have for each other will be a constant remind of how amazing beautiful life can be no matter what we go glad to be your freinds&to have been there for uboth

May 18, 2006 2:04 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rachel: A beautiful story which I pray has a happy and blessed ending. You certainly deserve it!

You have and will help others becaue of what you have gone through - your impact on others and their lives is just beginning.

Read your story from here in California - wishing you the best of everything!

July 05, 2006 10:54 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

After twenty-six years together my female partner and I celebrated our Civil Partnership in June . My son, sdaughter-in-law, grandsons and many friends celebrated with us. I know exactly how Rachel feels and wish her all the happiness we have been fortunate to enjoy.
We are now in our second year of living in a beautiful house in Prague, looking forward to many more years of wedded bliss!

December 31, 2006 12:05 pm  
Blogger KapsKom said...

Dear Rachel - This is the most beautiful thing I've read. Thank you, thank you very much.

January 29, 2009 5:58 pm  
Blogger Ray Creations said...

Thanks for this nice post.
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March 18, 2009 8:49 am  

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