When I was a 12-year-old attending an all-girls convent school (!), I would update my school diary on a weekly basis with my top 5 names for boys and girls. Maternal thoughts back then were clearly already being drummed into us!
Of course, most of the names would be lifted straight out of the popular novels or series of the time. I remember several lists included the name Mirko, taken from the Italian cartoon Kiss me Licia. My list would change at an alarming rate but somehow, the top name on both lists remained a constant – Alexander/Alexandra.
Later on, as the serious teens entered the picture, the list began to metamorphosise into our ideal boyfriend. The constants in mine were there – tall, dark hair, pale skin, green eyes, a fabulous dancer, brooding character.
Of course, as time rolled on and my teens turned to twenties and then to thirties, this ‘shopping list’ began to fade into the background as more important things came to the forefront.
Shared values and outlook in life shot to the top of list, followed swiftly by strength of character, intelligence, love of learning, desire to see the world. Although admittedly, dancing remained a top priority.
Boyfriends came and went, each one leaving behind important lessons – love of books, zaniness, deep conversation, civic involvement, total abhorrence of jealousy, and so forth. And one day, purely by chance, in a place where I would never have imagined, the universe put in front of me someone who somehow condensed all of these elements into one (minus the dancing feet).
Of course, I didn’t quite realise at the time that this Alexander (oh yes!) would turn out to be crucially important in my life as we started out our journey, first as colleagues, then as friends.
I should point out here that many moons before this, 4 good girlfriends of mine and I had made a bet. We had each scribbled on a piece of paper who we thought would get married 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th and to which nationality (3 of the girls were themselves foreigners). All of us (including me) bar one had put me down as last to get married, despite my being the second oldest, and to a foreigner.
We scored well on the last pointer, but somehow, against all odds, Alex shares my nationality. Having had a Bohemian upbringing, with parents who would have fit right in at Montparnasse, it was of no surprise to me that my friends thought insular Malta and I wouldn’t be a good fit.
But of course, Malta too has begun to open up to further influence and the old adage that travel opens minds is also very true. So there we were, two travellers who had looked for meaning overseas, coming back home to roost!
That was 12 years ago and today we celebrate our seventh anniversary.
Seven years in which we learnt from the get-go that for us ‘in the bad’ was going to be pretty much from day one; that marriage is the family you choose, so choose well; that we would need to adapt and change as each of us grows as individuals; that marriage does not really change a relationship but does, somehow, add a level of commitment that is difficult to obtain without it; that sharing values is absolutely crucial, even in every day life; that carving time out for just the two of us is essential in this frenetic world; that travelling remains the one true way to replenish the soul; that having a child would add to the chaos, exhaustion, worry, and stress but bring about so much more in terms of love and an understanding thereof; that liking your partner is sometimes more important than loving them; that it’s ok to admit that things are not ok; that having a true partner means having someone in your corner, at all times; that even when you’re mad at each other, respect has to form the basis for everything; that looking forward to spending time together is important; that you don’t have to be perfect, you just have to be you.
Here’s to the next 56 and a half years (he’ll understand that), looking forward to the (many) adventures ahead!