I am writing this post on my wedding anniversary. 12 years ago I exchanged vows with my husband on a beautiful sunny day in Yorkshire surrounded by our friends and family. It was a lovely, emotional wedding. It was also very pink - much more than I had intended but hey, peonies are beautiful flowers and I felt drawn to the colour. Even my wedding dress had a pink blush to it. I guess I was in full romantic pink mode! I can certainly relate this side of myself to my main character, Stefanie , and her emotional pink aura.
A year later, on our first wedding anniversary, I walked down to the pebble beach of Southsea, where we live, to collect the necessary ingredients to make my first anniversary gift to my husband. I was heavily pregnant by then, with our first child, and I was already in that uncomfortable stage of being a week over my due date. But...I had read that 'paper' was the traditional gift for a first anniversary and I had come up with an idea - a message in a bottle!
I had a mission to complete - so after another attempt to hurry along labour by drinking green tea and scrubbing wooden floors that were starting to become sticky rather than clean, I waddled like a penguin down to the beach to collect some pebbles, talking loudly and unselfconsciously to my bump on the way - a bump who turned into a lovely boy called Oliver who will turn eleven years old next week! How time passes so beautifully but so fleetingly!
Once I had filled my glass bottle with enough pebbles I indulged my inner child by dabbing at a piece of paper with a drained cold tea bag to give it that "antique" look - your days can be very long when you are waiting to give birth, as many women will agree! But, of most importance and the reason I am sharing this story with you, is what was written on this piece of paper that I rolled up into a scroll and tucked into the glass bottle as my present to my husband on our anniversary - a poem from our wedding day.
Considering that I am a wedding photographer, it is quite surprising that I have not heard this poem used again since my own wedding day. I have certainly heard many readings and poems read out in churches, barns, hotels and registry offices over the years - often delivered by the trembling voice of a friend who hates public speaking but had the misfortune of meaning too much to the bride and groom to be left out - but I have never heard this one. I quite like that. We all like to have something for ourselves - something rare and unique to add to our own love story. Perhaps I shouldn't be sharing this now?
But...I will... because it is a lovely poem - made more compelling by the simplicity of its message:
I love you
I love you, not only for what you are, but for what I am when I am with you. I love you, not only for what you have made of yourself, but for what you are making of me. I love you, for the part of me that you bring out. I love you, for putting your hand into my heaped-up heart,and passing over all the the foolish, weak things that you can't help dimly seeing there, and for drawing out, into the light, all the beautiful belongings that no one else had looked quite hard enough to find. I love you, because you are helping me to make of the lumber of my life, not a tavern, but a temple. Out of the works of my every day, not a reproach, but a song. I love you, because you have done more than any creed could have done to make me happy. You have done it without a touch, without a word, without a sign. You have done it by being yourself .
Perhaps that is what being in love means, after all.
I highlighted the middle section for a reason - because to me, this is the most romantic part. It highlights that to be loved deeply you are truly chosen; that despite your imperfections that, as humans we all have, your light still shines brighter than your darkness to that person; you are the rare stone that no one else dug far enough to find!
I have thought about this concept a lot recently as I have been interviewing jewellery designers and gemologists about diamonds in my research for Tandro and for my non-fiction book: The Magic of Diamonds.
A wonderful designer I spoke to described her own search for an unusual diamond and how she was not interested in the perfect ideal of a flawless diamond. As she pointed out:
"I am not attracted by perfection because no one is perfect. I prefer things that are imperfect. That is how I see gem stones - as I see humans. What I like about gem stones is not when they are perfect but when there is uniqueness."
This lady wears a ring that has a diamond inside a diamond - very rare but would not be graded as a perfectly flawless stone - even though it has another diamond inside it!!
Her words made me think about digging deeper to look for something beyond what we perceive to be perfect on the outside. There is a lot more I wish to explore about this with my research into the world of diamonds but I do see some synchronicity here - that we express our commitment of love with the giving of a diamond - often assuming the perfect flawless diamond will represent the value of our relationship.
Yet I much prefer the idea - and my romantic side certainly does -that by digging deeper, looking beyond this search for a perfect and flawless soul-mate, we will find something unique that no one else could; that by taking the time to draw out the light in a person, you will find something invincible - just like a diamond!