The 27th of February 2006 will go down in (my) history as a particularly momentous day. The reasons for this are two-fold.
1. It's my boy's birthday.
2. It's the day we met.
Like any good love story, ours starts with booze.
One of my best friends, whom I’ll call CC, told me about this party she was going to. Her boyfriend (now husband) had these friends who lived up the road and it was one of their birthdays. (My boy’s birthday.) They were having a big house party.
You should come, she said.
Nah, I don’t want to crash someone’s party. I don’t know them.
They won’t care. They want to meet you. And (my boy’s) brother works for the Herald Sun. He might be able to get you a job.
A couple of months earlier I’d got back from London, where I’d been living for the previous three years. I was job hunting and the pickings were slim. This was a tempting prospect.
That night I turned up at CC’s house, where her and a couple of our other friends were having a pre-party party. I was late, so we quickly downed a couple of shots and got a taxi to the party (five minutes up the road).
CC and I went straight to the kitchen to put our drinks in the fridge, moving the milk to the fridge door to make room for our wine. The door’s shelf dropped to the floor and milk splashed across the tiles. CC and I quickly mopped up the milk, hoping no one would notice (or want weetbix for breakfast).
CC introduced me to the boys and I talked with the few people I knew there, before my boy and I drifted off from the rest of the crowd to talk among ourselves for the rest of the night. As he led me out from the kitchen into the garden where the rest of the party was, a voice in my head spoke clearly through the vodka–wine haze.
Pay attention, it said. This one is important.
(I guess it sometimes pays to listen to those voices in your head.)
When it was time for me to go, he asked me for my number. I said no.
Now, I’d been seeing someone in England and it wasn’t completely over, although I’d moved back to Melbourne for good. So it didn't quite feel right to give my number to a guy. But I didn’t intervene when I overheard my boy asking CC for my number while I waited outside for her.
He called a day or two later and we went to the Sydney Road Festival, where we ate Hare Krishna balls and drank sangria and beer. I made our friends come along, so it wasn't a ‘date date’. He walked me home, and when I hugged him goodbye, I squeezed him so tightly that I broke the sunglasses that were hanging from his collar.
We hung out a few more times, but things were still up in the air with the English guy and I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with myself. Career prospects were limited in Melbourne compared with London, and Australia felt so remote, so parochial. So alien. I needed to move again.
Fast forward a year and a bit and I had decided to move back to London for good, to work and clear my head. The English guy was history, and my boy and I had been on and off for some time. As I cried my way through security at Tullamarine Airport and onto the plane, my boy broke his promise to make a grand, romantic comedy-esque gesture. He didn’t show up at the gate, Hugh Grant style, begging me to stay. I’d told him I wanted to go alone and he did as I asked (this is the first and only time he has done this).
Not long after I moved back to England, my boy went incommunicado with me. It was make or break time.
I got in touch with him and we exchanged letters, emails, phone calls and text messages.I booked my ticket home.
When one of my English cousins (who’d wrangled a work trip to Melbourne) and I walked through the arrivals door at Tullamarine, my boy was standing there in his best press stud check shirt. He'd shaved and was drinking a take-away coffee.
And beside him stood my parents.
I was expecting to see my parents there too. They driven three hours especially to collect my cousin and take most of my belongings back to their house. I just wasn’t expecting to see them standing with my boy, you know, considering they’d never met before and everything.
Apparently my boy had been looking for my parents among the crowd. He’d seen a woman standing the same way I do and thought he had nothing to lose. He walked over to her and asked if she was my mum. Luckily she was.
Mum told me later that she’d been eyeing off the men there that night. The drongos and derros, she said. They’d looked rough and dirty. She was happy to see that this one was wearing a nice shirt, was clean shaven and polite. He’d approached her, so he must have balls, she thought.
We moved in together about a month later. I got a good job, the kind I’d wanted for years. We rented a nice unit in a pretty street in a great part of town (not far from where CC and her boy lived). We bought our first major white good appliance – a washing machine that was half price, no less! We got a kitten. I started studying a course I’d wanted to do for more than 10 years. We travelled.
Nine years after that momentous day, we are married with two cats, a baby and a mortgage. I am six months away from finishing that course. The fridge with the dodgy door is still going relatively strongly and is at home in the corner of our kitchen. (It has also seen the end of a couple of bottles of wine and tubs of yoghurt over these years.)
Every now and then we joke and ask if either of us imagined that night where we’d be today.
Happy birthday, my boy.