To understand how 2020 changed me, we must first turn the clock back to June 2019.
He had flown to Australia to participate in a scholarship program. My friend (and Guardian columnist) Owen Jones was there for a conference taking place at the same time, and on a cold Friday night in the dead of Melbourne winter, we met in a bar overlooking the Yarra River. “There is someone who works in Australian politics that I want to talk to,” Owen said. We walked around until we finally found the boy, and a surprise: he had brought a friend.
I must say that during this period of my life, I had given up on the idea of having a long-term partner. I saw myself living a life of freedom and adventure in which men would be nothing more than fabulous anecdotes that I would share as an old woman. So when I saw this handsome man walking up, sipping gin and casually mentioning that he was a former naval officer, I thought, “Hi, anecdote.”
We spent a night together a few days later. We talk about life and heartbreak, politics and music. He told me that he wanted to move to Europe but that there was something holding him back. “You should,” I told him, with the innocence of someone who has only lived in one country. I’m sure part of the reason we didn’t censor each other was because we assumed we would never see each other again. But there was also something different about the Australian: it was solid but also warm. It made me feel involved.
A few days after I returned to London, the Australian messaged me: “What are you doing in November? Come with me to Italy. “Assuming this would be chapter two of the anecdote, I agreed. There was something slightly ridiculous about going on vacation with a relative stranger, but honestly, it was wonderful. We walked through the center of Milan, visited Lake Like, we ended up in the Alps without a hint of knitwear. It was during the 2019 general election, so I spent a lot of the trip reading tweets to him. He thought I was smart and blunt, and he liked that. I liked that he was quiet. .
By January 2020, we were talking every day. The time difference meant that we would always wake up to each other’s messages. Then one day the Australian said he wanted to come see me and was booking flights to London in February. I was incredibly anxious about it and told him to stay at an Airbnb. I guess he was aware that he was becoming someone to me. With characteristic serenity, he did not object and found a nice little place to stay near my house. Of course, after his arrival, he hardly spent time there. I introduced him to my parents and friends. We said the L word to each other. He reduced his plans to move to Europe to a plan to move to London. I agreed to visit him in Melbourne.
Just three weeks after leaving London, the coronavirus pandemic forced Australia to close its borders. With these giant roadblocks suddenly in our way, all the conversations we’d had about taking a sensible and sensible approach to our relationship went out the window. Now there was only one question: are we in this or not? On Skype, the Australian said that we should get a civil society, which he can do remotely in his home state. I said yes immediately. I wanted a piece of legal documentation to say that we were connected, that it was wrong to part. We applied to the birth, death and marriage registry, sent them a packet of documents, and on April 20 I found out that the Australian had become my legal spouse via automated email. There was no ceremony, just paperwork and a hug from my housemate when the news came.
The Australian sped up his schedule to move to London. In the midst of the biggest global recession of our lives, you quit your job, moved out of your home, and applied to leave Australia. He was rejected, but he was unfazed. The second request was also rejected. As the old saying goes, the third time is a sweetheart. And then on a rainy morning in July (welcome to Britain), he knocked on my door.
I write this in our house with our cat sitting on my lap and my husband a few feet from me working (he got a job). The word we most often hear people use about our history is “romantic,” and I guess it is. But it doesn’t feel like a romance to me, suggesting a rebellious outburst of passions. Being with my husband has taught me that love is careful. It is a form of investment in the other person. It is building something meaningful together. It is solidarity.
Good things happened in 2020. People had babies and fell in love. Life will always have new beginnings and surprises. There is room for the good.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.