We’d planned to celebrate Valentine’s Day by ordering an indecent selection of Domino’s pizzas and catching up on the last series of The Walking Dead. Romantic stuff, I know.
But on Friday at work, everybody was in such an ecstatic V Day mood, stuffing themselves with heart shaped chocolates, signing for humongous bouquets of dead red roses, blushing, giggling, and continuously expressing their outrage at my lack of Love Weekend plans, that I have to admit I pretty much succumbed to peer pressure and, after a bit of online begging, I managed to get a dinner reservation.
Of course every super duper image-of-poshness restaurant was booked for the evening, so I settled for the Ask Italian in Kew. It’s nothing too fancy, and V. and I have been there quite a bunch of times before, but it’s a place that’s always been dear to us. When we first moved to London, we didn’t go out much. Money was tight and we still hadn’t gotten the hang of how things worked in this country, you couldn’t exactly run back to mommy if something went wrong, and let’s not forget that I was absolutely-no-joke-about-it insane, worrying day in and day out that V. would break his click finger playing his stupid tennis and I wouldn’t be able to make ends meet by myself. So we mostly ate in and saved every penny, with dark no click finger futures in mind.
Every once in a blue moon, though, we went out for dinner, and several times we picked the Ask Italian. I still saw it as well beyond our means, indignantly batting my lashes at their £12 mains and £5 glasses of wine, but I embraced these rare occasions of dining luxury by wearing my red, dangerous lipstick and picking the most exotic sounding thing on the menu. Good times.
These days, Ask is just a nice place to have a good lunch after a long morning walk in Kew Gardens. Everybody is lovely, we’ve got our menu favourites, and you can pretty much always get a nice window table for two overlooking the Thames.
We did manage to get a window table on Friday. It’s true, it was overlooking their parking lot and terrace, but we’d only made the reservation hours before, and the place was packed, so we were very happy to have it. The weather outside being absolutely horrendous, with record breaking gales and the prospect of storm, it felt really nice sipping our glasses of Prosecco in the light of candles, surrounded by equally relaxed if a bit inebriated couples. The food was wonderful and too much for me to finish, which almost never happens. We chatted for a long time, about serious stuff like houses (of course!), our anniversary (it being only a couple of days away), how I leave my hairpins all over the place and it needs to stop (or this will be our last anniversary, surely; breakup by hairpin!), and then we talked about less life changing things, basically just poking fun at each other and calling each other this and that: blonde (that’s me), dumb (him), fat (both of us) and other lovely things lovers call each other on Valentine’s Day.
It amazes me how after all this time, we’re still the kind of couple I’d like to be friends with.
Hours later, after we’d barely managed to make it home through the winds from hell, there was an email waiting for me. My accountant, letting me know, in the middle of the night, that several months and a million piles of paperwork later, the bank had said yes to our mortgage inquiry.
I almost cried.
I’m typing this on my work laptop (my personal one’s still dead), propped between pillows in bed in this place where we’ve been both happy and sad. A glass of VR Cabernet on the nightstand. We first bought this wine when we found our initials on the label, and we’ve been regularly getting it since, because I like to have it in the house. It may not be the best of wines, but it’s ours, and it fills me with joy that we’ve got such things, our not so posh italian restaurant, our not so posh Cabernet, this somewhat our place we’ll soon be leaving for our home.
And yes, our random moments of happiness are likely not interesting enough to be worth putting into writing. They’re not going to make you want to click the like button, or start stalking me across the blogosphere, but hey, they’re ours and that’s all that matters.
P.S.: I never thought I’d say this in a million years but you know what, Valentine’s Day may just be turning into my new favourite holiday.