PART THE SECOND.
Well, I’m still not married yet, which is fine. I do have a diamond though, so I feel I’m making progress.
THIS IS A JOKE.
When I first met Fritz it was amongst two German families and we spent the first days getting to know each other surrounded by other German families living in London. One of my favourite things to do, because I am a monster, is to point out how many more diamonds UK wives have in relation to their German sisters. Traditionally in Germany the wedding band is also your engagement ring, you just wear it on your other hand, then switch it over at the wedding. Whether you want to look at this as a refusal to buy into the marketing and commercialisation of diamonds by jewellery companies or not, the very lovely German husbands I meet in my social circle tend not to buy their wives a lot of jewellery and certainly not diamonds. Diamond engagement rings are becoming more common, eternity rings are still aways off.
Personally, I’m not really bothered. I love pearls and opals and turquoise and moonstones. I think diamonds are pretty, but the ethics behind the diamond trade are dubious and disheartening. Vintage diamonds feel better to my social conscience, but come with their own problems.
For our first Christmas as a couple I was determined not to let things get out of hand. Friends of mine already know about the £200 kitchen bin I bought my ex-boyfriend because he spent a lot of money on my gifts and I’d run out of ideas after a few years. In my defence, he did love it, so I won Christmas that year (I won every year, let’s be honest). I set a budget of £50 which he forexed creatively to a higher amount of Euros. I bought him little practical things I knew he’d like that had relevance to Our Story and he bought me a tiny diamond necklace which I squealed over. And, when I discovered it was a lab diamond, I was even more delighted. It’s part of Our Story and he made a huge effort. It was lovely.
Since October we have also had to find our boundaries. Which has, inevitably, led to me being cross, our linguistic skills being questioned and a general frustration with long-distance relationships. Fritz has many many lovely friends. Many of whom have wedding or birthdays or big events they would like to celebrate with him. And now I’m included too. At the same time I also have many many lovely friends who would like me to celebrate with them. His friends are either in Germany or further abroad. My friends are either in the UK or ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE GLOBE. Realistically, I cannot go to everything. I just can’t. I haven’t the finances, nor the annual leave. Nor, if I’m honest, do I have the inclination. I know Fritz, I like Fritz. I like his friends. I don’t know the sister of his friend who is getting married in Morocco and I don’t like any of them enough to want to go back there when I really really don’t like Morocco.
We had a mini argument about how I “didn’t want to go on holiday with him” which was actually about how I want to spend time alone with him (rather than go on more holidays with his family and travel to yet more social engagements where he will be busy with an activity and I will be surrounded by strangers) and how he feels his free time and money is being dictated to by the calendars of his friends and family. It took us a long conversation to work out the subtext to that. It was interesting.
What I learnt was that I actually have to listen to what’s being said and to ask questions. Not to jump to the end of the sentence and guess what it is. That taking offence is GREAT but it doesn’t RESOLVE an issue. Where I GREW as a person, and a lady-person in a relationship, is in standing firm and saying “I like you, but I will be unhappy if I do XYZ. I do not wish to be unhappy because of XYZ. How can we make you happy with XYZ without me being there being unhappy.” Ultimately, it’s about what’s best for us as a TEAM of two, rather than a Me and a Fritz. I trust him to want me to be happy, so I know he’ll make sacrifices when he feels he should for that to happen, but I also know he will say what he needs. I have to meet him halfway and sacrifice some things for him to be happy, as long as I am not incredibly unhappy. Sacrifice is a balance, not martyrdom and that’s a new lesson.
Another heated discussion we had was about wanting-versus-needing someone. He made some off-hand comment about how I needed him and I was indignant that this was not the case. I’d be incredibly sad if we broke up, but I wouldn’t be destroyed. My life is not dependent on him. I function stunningly well on my own. I don’t want to talk to him and text him and visit him because I need him. That can’t be who I am now. I find a lot of my knee-jerk reactions now have developed since my ex-boyfriend and I broke up. A lot of my responses are reactions that I should have had to him. He was moody and I felt unsafe and I felt trapped, so now I do my very best to be stable, to be independent, to be free. Better late than never, I guess. That being said, it’s totally unfair on Fritz. I respond vigorously to things to Make A Point that I won’t stand for things, that this won’t be a pattern we fall into, that I won’t end up on a holiday in France clutching my passport desperately wishing I was at home, but instead suffering through another two days with someone so irrationally angry at me for not being psychic and knowing that when he said he wanted to leave at 11am, he had later changed his mind to 10.30am and not mentioned it. So now I have to learn how to have an immediate response, take a breath and see if it’s proportional to the situation. It very rarely is.
Everyone has baggage, it’s just whether you drag it behind you with a broken wheel and the insides bursting out, or whether you buy a new case and carry on with your journey, smoother and more efficiently. I guess I’m in the store choosing between a soft case and a hard shell.
You guys, I went to Seattle on my own and I loved it. To be clear, I went to visit my gorgeous friend and her husband and to spend Thanksgiving with her family of origin in Oregon. You guys, I love the grid system. I got lost at least 15% less than usual. I went places by myself, I gave directions (what?!) and I hung out with my friend’s lovely friends and adorable family and did not embarrass myself socially. I even spoke to a Trump Supporter and didn’t have a meltdown and ruin Thanksgiving for everyone.
Everyone go to Seattle. It is lovely. Don’t go now. Let’s all wait four years and if the Hunger Games aren’t still on over there, we’ll have a group trip.
Other BRAVE things I did last quarter include going to a wedding where Fritz was the best man, the Bride and her family were Chinese (with minimal English) and the entire wedding totalled 24 people. And was partly on a river boat on the Thames. Despite knowing NO ONE, I threw myself into the role of usher (there were not enough people for there to be ushers!), I powdered the groom’s father’s face for photos, I popped champagne for the first toast after the church wedding and I kept the marriage certificate safe for the whole day. EVEN WHEN I FOUND OUT THE GROOM’S FATHER VOTED BREXIT.
Possibly the bravest thing I did was go on a skiing holiday with Fritz’s entire (German, skiing for decades) family, despite declaring I would never ski in my life, despite having the coordination of a beanbag, despite not knowing his family or really wanting to bunk up all together for a week sharing a bathroom, despite being mortally afraid of dying on a ski slope. This is obviously a whole story on its own, but let the record state that I went, and I tried, and it was painful and scary and minimal fun and stressful. But I went. And I tried. And in the end I was marginally better than the fourteen year old Croatian girl in the group who couldn’t speak German, even though she fell down a lot less than I did and I still have bruises a month later.
Healthy Mind & Body
Well, I still have a mind and a body, so that’s a plus. I’m still going to the podiatrist once a month and still having her [GROSS ALERT] scrape my feet and paint them with silver nitrate. And I’m still, once a month, apologising to her for having to touch my gross feet while she reassures me there are really a lot worse things that she sees. I’m upping my vitamin intake and virtually inhaling mushrooms (the cooking, not hallucinogenic, kind!) for the vitamin D which is important for the immune system.
I’ve also kept up all my dental and medical appointments and am flossing like a mo-fo. I love flossing. It’s so good. It’s so rewarding. I feel like such a responsible adult. I have an electric toothbrush, interdental brushes, floss and a mouthguard. It takes HOURS for me to be ready for bed in the evening, but my teeth are GOOD. Also, there is nothing quite like a new toothbrush head. I discovered this the other night.
I’m eating fewer carbs and cooking for meals because it’s good for my body. I am still eating sugar and drinking whisky because it’s good for my soul. I’m using the good moisturiser, drinking the nice hot chocolate, not eating the sweets I don’t like just because they’re there. I’m trying to turn off my phone at ten pm so I can sleep better, I’m reading the good books I was gifted so my brain has something to be happy about, I’m wearing the cosy jumpers so I feel better and warm. I’m burning the expensive candles so I feel worthy of good things.