Last year was a crazy year. Let's see what I can remember of it.
I moved house on New Year's Eve and saw the New Year in at a party with friends from church. I can't remember much of the month, apart from a fun Gaudy at Corpus, until that momentous week when my life got turned upside down. On Sunday 25th January I wrote this post, bemoaning my lack of a man and wanting to know what I should do about it. A few days later I found a comment from this character, RobHu. Hmm, I thought, he sounds friendly. After a few days of enchanging thousands of words by email, we met at the City Church Ceilidh and the rest is history! The other thing that happened that week was that I found out Debs was pregnant. She wasn't married, or even engaged to M then, so this came as something of a shock. Those first few days of realising there was going to be a baby, of Debs trying to work out what to do, were somewhat surreal.
On 1st February Rob and I officially started going out. The rest of that month is a blur of happiness and sleepness nights - I often couldn't sleep because I was so excited about seeing Rob the next day. We first kissed on the 13th, managed to upset each other horribly on the 14th and sorted it out over the next few days. At the end of the month, I met Rob's family for the first time. I was nervous, but it went well. So well, that Rob's mother (while I was out of the room) offered to find Rob her mother's rings so he could propose. :) Which was probably a little premature, but not much.
Also a blur of happy things. Rob met my family en masse for the first time when he came down to Exeter to see Hannah in 'The Yeoman of the Guard'. I think he survived :). He certainly enjoyed the songs and spent the next few weeks playing them repeatedly on spotify. At the end of the month, we went to New Word Alive. I didn't expect it to be as good as it was. We both loved the teaching and the worship. We went with a group from Eden, which was the first time I'd actually spent time with Eden folks. They were a friendly bunch, which made me better disposed to the place than I had been.
The weddings began. Debs and M on the 5th and Ben and Jude on the 25th. Debs's wedding was organised in rather a hurry! We had about 2.5 weeks notice, but everything came together in time. Ben and Jude's wedding was rather more organised, but no less fun.
May started and ended with not very successful weekends away. On the first bank holiday, Rob and I went camping with a bunch of his friends near Hay-on-Wye. It was one of those weekends where we were both tired and grumpy and fell out over silly things. Hay itself is beautiful and ordinarily one of my favourite places, but with my brain still not functioning properly, I wasn't reading much, making visiting a town full of books either a pointless exercise or a cruel joke.
On the second bank holiday, we went walking with some of my friends in Wales. Rob, it transpires, really doesn't like walking, even with the accompaniment of sermons on his iPod. The combination of wild weather, rocky paths, borrowed boots and steep slopes made him miserable and the fact that I knew people and he didn't probably didn't help. I love walking, but I suspect I may be better off walking without Rob, especially if I'm going up anything steep.
These weekends may have been a factor in my sudden attack of getting married panic. Rob had been saying 'Marry me!' for ages. I had just come round to the idea that a) he was serious and b) I might actually want to. Then, all of a sudden, I wasn't ready. I'm not really sure what happened. Perhaps realising the seriousness of the decision I was making made me draw up short. Poor Rob. I went from maybe, to yes definitely, to argh, not not yet, in a very short space of time. Thankfully, he had patience (well, some) to wait until I was ready. It was only a few weeks between that panic and my being so sure that I was asking him 'When are you going to propose then?'.
We got engaged! First we went ring shopping in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham (this was on 6th June, according to the progamme for the final event of that day, Rob's first opera: The Magic Flute (in English), a fun student production at St John's). Then, in a memorable weekend spent mostly cleaning Rob's flat, he asked and I said yes! I wrote about that here, so I won't repeat it.
I think this month mostly passed in a whirl of newly-engaged happiness. I moved house, we started to plan timescales and maybe even book wedding-related things. We went to Keswick, which was a tough week. It rained, I didn't sleep well, we argued a few times, I cried a lot. The teaching sessions were good, but I didn't really enjoy camping, or the rain. There were good times though, meeting up with Hannah P, the sun when it decided to shine, a trip in a Viking long boat. We're going again next year (please God, can we have better weather?) so it can't have been too terrible. I think we learnt a lot about each other and how differently we function. I also spent lots of my time sewing bridesmaids' dresses for Hannah's wedding.
More weddings - Pete and Stacey (although we managed to miss their wedding and only make the reception) and, a week later, Hannah and Steve. I stayed in London for the week in between, helping with last minute wedding prep, making garlands, attaching pom poms to name cards and icing the cake. The wedding was wonderful! A gorgeous hot day, Hannah was beautiful, Steve was suitably love-struck, the dresses fitted and a good time was had by all.
September was full of unbloggable drama which is probably why I've forgotten it. I had a wisdom tooth extracted, which also dramatic - I nearly swallowed the tooth when it finally came out! Wedding planning began in earnest and I went to my first wedding fair. I didn't get much sleep, according to my blog, probably due to said drama and tooth. I officially went back to my MA course, planning to have my dissertation done in time to hand in by the end of April 2010. Rob resumed his degree course, also working on a dissertation to be handed in around the same time. Rob's dissertation is progressing and is likely to be done on time. Mine is not. :(
Debs' and M's baby, Tiny aka Squeaky aka Sophia was born. I remember intermittant updates from Debs during the day before she gave birth as contractions started and got more regular and more painful. By the time I went to bed, she was in hospital and labouring away on the birthing ball. At 3.33am, Sophia was born, announced to me by text message a few minutes later. I went to see Debs and her, then-unnamed, new baby in Chase Farm Hospital and took lots of lots of pictures of the new arrival and her tired but happy parents.
This was also the month I turned 30. I had a lovely birthday, traipsing round St Ives with Rob, eating at what seems to be our favourite pub (The Bridge in Waterbeach) and hanging out, just being us. A few days later, I had a birthday party, with lots of people and lots and lots and lots of food - chocolates and cheese, mostly. Happy times!
A mixed month. I went to a CLSG conference in Oxford, which also meant I caught up with Chris and Caroline and as Rob came too, he got to meet them. At that time I was still feeling like my MA might be do-able and left the conference with some useful leads. This was also the month of the Saturday School of Theology session which left me in tears and very confused. I was just totally lost and befuddled by the idea of truth. I felt stuck in post-modernity, unable to find a rock to stand on. I still feel like that in regard to my MA work - I have things to say, but it feels like there's no solid place from which to start. I don't know enough literary theory to be of use and I'm lost when it comes to finding a Christian approach to literature. Add to that post-viral fatigue and depression and you have a recipe for a sad Bekki and a dissertation that feels impossible. One good thing was that we made some contacts with interesting people connected to Christian Heritage, and started going to a group on Friday nights which was watching a series of documentaries by Francis Schaeffer. I'm still not sure how I feel about Schaeffer. I think he was right in that the church has neglected tackling the big ideas of philosophy and the arts, however I also find his analysis too glib and too tidy. However, I suspect that's a topic for another post.
This wasn't a great month for me. I was feeling pretty depressed, partly the time of year, I suspect, partly needing a break, partly just being overwhelmed by life. Rob looked after me, in between working hard on his dissertation. I decided to increase my medication and put my MA on hold again. Not quite what I wanted, but probably a good idea in the long run. Rob, as ever, is loving and supportive. We didn't see each other over Christmas much, but he did join my family for our family Christmas: my parents, their daughters and their respective partners, the attention-stealing baby. We ended the year together, eating steak, talking about mortgages and seeing the New Year in with cake and champagne at the ToothyCats.