Up until the age of 32, I didn’t much believe in love. All those songs and movies and high-gloss Facebook updates? I thought it was an elaborate government ploy to keep us sweet and unruly. You know – like religion. And McDonalds. I played the game – I’d give a cheery thumbs-up to the pictures of fat fingers wedged into engagement rings – but I wasn’t falling for it. Instead, I’d pat myself on the back and go, “Look at me, all non-conformist and single and shit. Fuck you, system. Fuck you and your love drug.”
And then, on Australia Day 2010, I got a call from a pal of mine: “Ere,” she said. “I’ve found you one,” in much the same the same way you’d inform someone that they’d spotted a parking space really close to the entrance of Myer. I was just, like, yeah, whatever. I’d been a single parent for just over two years, and I was doing alright. I wasn’t on the hunt for a husband, or even a sexy cuddle. Four-year-old Ben was about to start school, I was back in my own little house, and I had a Healthcare card with all the associated benefits (fuck, I miss that card). So yeah, I was interested, but I didn’t rush off to shave my legs and wax my moustache (I don’t have a moustache).
But then, on January 28 – two days after my pal phoned me – I agreed to go to the pub with a few friends … and a gentleman called Paul. Now, let it be known that the one-syllable thing was always going to be a selling point. Never trust a man with more than one syllable in his name – that’s my theory, and it’s proven to be true. Paul and I were introduced, sat next to each other, and that was that, I suppose. It wasn’t so much love at first sight as, “Oh hello. I’ve been waiting for you.” That sounds creepy, but you know what I mean. We were instant. We were meant to be. We wrote our wedding disco playlist within the first three days of meeting. It was never a case of “will they or won’t they?” just “how will they?” Because, of course, Paul lived in Leeds, England, and I lived in Perth, Western Australia. We’d both watched enough Border Security to know that the Australian Government didn’t look too kindly upon English tourists deciding to set up home in their country. We knew it would be tricky – close to impossible, almost. But then, one night, running late for a show that would almost certainly start without us, the taxi driver turned around to us and said, “Never, ever give up.” That was it; that became our mantra – never, ever give up.
We didn’t give up, and we were married a year later, on the beach beside the pub where we’d first met, and where Paul had met Ben the day after. No prizes for guessing where the reception was held. A year after that, Frankie arrived, and 17 months after that, Alice. We’ve been pretty busy. In all that time – through all the swings and roundabouts that married life can throw at you – our love has been constant. It never, ever wavers – just grows.
I was going to say that Paul makes my life complete, but that would imply that my life was incomplete before he came along. So na, not that. Okay – you know the Wizard of Oz, when it starts in black and white, and then suddenly goes all technicolour and shit? That’s the effect Paul has had on my life. Everything’s brighter when he’s around; there is more joy to be had. He makes me smile when I’m feeling shit, and he makes me laugh when I’m stomping around the house. He holds me up and keeps me steady. He helps me find the happiness in the small things. He reigns me in when I'm pushing the boundaries, and he pushes me forward when I can't put one foot in front of the other. He indulges my quirks, and goes along with my mad plans, and doesn't even mind when I ask him to put the kids in the car so that I can mop us out of the front door. He's the calm to my chaos.
I’m not telling you this to be a #smugcunt, although I realise that by telling you this I sound like a #smugcunt. I understand that if you’re single, or you’re in a shitty relationship, then you’ll probably hate me for writing this loved-up ode to my wonderful husband. I understand this, because I’ve been there; that’s why I take none of this for granted – I understand how lucky I am. I also know that you deserve this, too. Not necessarily Paul – his obscure taste in music and penchant for sweary t-shirts might not be your bag – but you deserve that person who brings the world into HD. It’s not a case of you could have this, but that you should have this. Everyone – unless they're a massive cunt – deserves to have a partner to lift them up and make them smile. You may have to wait a while, but it’ll be worth the wait, I promise. Just never, ever give up.