At First Sight

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The look of love is a mysterious thing. The ever-squinty Richard Miller polishes his specs and gives us his best double-take.

This might shock you if you’re a romantic, eyes-meet-across-the-room type, who believes in love at first sight, but I can’t recall the first time I ever saw my wife. True, I am getting older, and my memory isn’t what it used to be. But, clearly, if I don’t remember it, it’s safe to say I didn’t fall in love. I do remember a time fairly early on in our friendship when she “tripped” at the rollerskating rink—yes, kids, I am so old that I owned a pair of very snazzy purple rollerblades in my youth—and fell in my lap. But first sight? I don’t recall.

I wish I did remember. I’d like to say I thought about it as I stood at the front of the church on our big day, waiting with everyone else for my bride-to-be to make her grand entrance. I’d like to say that as my groomsmen bantered about getaway cars I was caught up in remembering just how she looked the first time I ever saw her, the first time I ever made her laugh, the first time I felt that weirdly pleasant crackle as her hand touched mine.

To be honest, I was busy concentrating on not being physically sick. (It’s a lot of pressure, standing up in front of everyone you know and love, trying to look nonchalant on the biggest day of your life. Especially when you’re not exactly an up-in-front-of-a-crowd kind of guy.) Rather than daydreaming about the first movie we ever saw together, or the look on her face when I finally presented her with an engagement ring, I was desperately trying to remember—of course I had, of course I had—whether I’d zipped my fly when I put on my pants.

But then the music finally began, and her bridesmaids stepped elegantly, one after the other, down the aisle, and there, at the back, radiant in white, she was: not the girl I’d fallen in love with—at least, not just the girl I’d fallen in love with—but the woman who was my future. It was a strange feeling. My gut-churning nerves didn’t disappear, exactly. It’s just that I didn’t care about them anymore. I wasn’t worried about my clothes or whether people were watching me. I was looking at her, only her, just drinking her in.

She’d asked both her parents to walk her down the aisle, and they linked arms and came down three abreast. Her father looked less like a happy dad giving his daughter away and more like a security guard who used to cover Led Zeppelin but now found himself working a 5 Seconds of Summer gig. Her mum looked like she was walking her precious girl not to the first day of the rest of her life, but to the last day of her life.

The thing is, I only realised that weeks later when the first of our wedding photos arrived. (If I’d noticed at the time, I would’ve worried that they’d planned for me to have a little accident on my honeymoon—a permanent accident, if you know what I mean.) But it could’ve been Bert and Ernie on either side of her and I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid.

I felt a little bewildered that she’d decided to marry me. Most blokes I know have a sneaking suspicion that every one of us is punching above his weight, but on that day, I felt like a bantamweight taking on a titan. How could it be that such a beautiful and capable and funny and loving woman had chosen to stick with me, of all people?

But, over and above and on all sides of that bewilderment, like a great blue ocean surrounding a tiny volcano, was the certainty that this was the way it was supposed to be. We had talked about this day as the beginning of something: a day to stop and celebrate how far we’d come, sure, but also the first step of a grand adventure that would take us all the way through the fun and fury of life.

It would be exciting, it would be exasperating; it would be hilarious, it would be hard; it would be magnificent, it would be mundane; it would be a new day every day. And each day would be better because we were living through it together. And that turned out to be true.

So, when we’d said our vows—me very shaky; she solid as a rock—and signed our papers, I glanced at her before we walked the aisle towards our hoard of elated friends and family. She was no longer my girlfriend, or even my fiancée. For the first time, I could tell the world she was my wife. It was love at first sight.

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