It’s the last day of our one week in London. I promised her a surprise. I want to take her to Greenwich, one of my favourite spots in London and I have a plan. I want to declare to her that I love her. I want to tell her that nothing makes me happier than spending the rest of my life with her and I want the perfect setting for that.
We take a ferry at Tower of London pier to Greenwich. It’s a bit chilly today and the clouds suggest rain. The met office suggested otherwise and no showers for the day, but you can never trust those buggers. They always get it wrong.
She is nesting beautifully in my arms through out the 25 minute journey. As we get off the ferry, we get off the pier and turn left towards the National Maritime Museum, where all the naval glory of Britain resides. Turning right again and there it is. The greenest hills of England in front of you. There is a pathway through the hill, a mildly steep and bendy one that takes us to the Royal Observatory. A red brick 17th century building compound which is a perfect location for a period movie, inspiring an elevated and surreal sense of tranquility to its visitors. The path way is beautiful in autumn. Yellow leaves scattered on the cobblestones, greenery every where, people jogging, walking their dogs, loved ones sitting arm in arm on the benches mesmerised by the landscape. It’s a perfect post card picture. It looks as if it has come to reality from a John Constable painting.
Like every one that comes to this magnificent place, she is quiet and captivated. I take her hand and walk through the pathway up. Royal Observatory is an amazing place. It’s where the Meridian equator passes through. From this point there is an equal distance towards the western and eastern horizons of the earth in vertical directions. It’s the home to Greenwich Mean Time. Every one in the world set their watches to the small clock at the entrance of the Observatory. Great minds created miracles here, ground breaking scientific studies have been conducted, and more importantly great international standards written in this location. That’s why I chose this place to declare my love to her. I want to set a new standard of my own in a place, where time begins. In a location that is the middle of the earth. I want to add another great work, something of my own, to the long list of achievements obtained in this serene place.
I left you when I was waiting for her in Heathrow Airport as her plane landed. I cleaned up myself for the last time and went and waited by the arrival door. The automatic door opened and closed countless times and there was no sign of her. I planned so many silly scenarios for greeting her, get my self lost and sneak behind her for a surprise, hold a funny placard in my hands saying “get your love coupons here”, you name it. I actually decided to go with the “sneaking from behind scenario” the moment she appeared through the doors. Then I was locked, frozen. Mind boggled, body stopped functioning. She saw me and smiled as she walked towards the exit. She was a bit taller than I expected. The smile was more radiant than the picture, the eyes more captivating.
I found myself hurrying along the separating barriers to the assembly point. There she was, standing in front of me. All those months of anticipation materialized. She was here, smiling at me, eyes looking shyly into mine. I thought about this moment for a long time and had many things prepared to say and do. But now, it was all down the drain. We looked each other for a few seconds, each immersed in the surreality of the moment. I don’t quite remember my first words to her. It must have been along the same line as “Am I up to your expectations?”, to which her response was yes and much more. We hit it off then, we walked out of the Terminal building and took a taxi to Bayswater where our hotel was. Later she told me that her first impression was that I wasn’t as tall as she anticipated but better in other departments.
From that moment onwards I knew that she was every inch of woman I expected her to be and more.
We had a great week in London. Everything proved to be fantastic, from our cozy hotel in a leafy back garden street so characteristic of west London, to rides in the tube, and strolls down my favourite streets. We went to see the paintings in the National Galley. She loves Van Gogh, I love John Constable, so we spent long periods of time sitting on the couches in each section watching the paintings, while I repeatedly apologized to her for my nerdish ways, and she, compassionately, said that it’s ok and she loves it.
We rode the London eye! Unlike many, I love London eyes during the day. The scenery is breathtaking. We laughed at her being a typical American tourist in London, holding a Union Jack umbrella around all the time and taking numerous pictures.
We spent every night drinking fabulous wine and getting sloshed. We did so many things. We lived as time had stopped for the two of us. We lived as there was no tomorrow. We savoured every moment, every feeling, every scent and taste to its core.
More importantly, I fell in love with her as a person. Every thing about her was fascinating. The way she dressed, the way she made up before a night out. The way she spoke about her past and hopes for the future. Funny little noises she made when she was sleep. Her dodgy, colourful socks. The way she walked, the way she walked. The way she ate and her zest and excitement for life. The look in her eyes, those big beautiful piercing eyes which I made fun of and said they would bring about the end of me one day. There was an impressing sense of humanity about her.
The chemistry was unbelievable! Even better than what we had over the past few months communicating through phone and internet. She was the embodiment of all the things I once idealized and then forgot due to bitter experiences of the past. She brought me back to life.
When we reached the end of the pathway, I took her to the point of the meridian. There was an amazing tranquility. The Thames was flowing to our right, as it had for many centuries, telling endless stories of glory and horror about the London’s long and colourful history. In the distance and across the banks of Thames you could see the Canary Wharf and the formerly named Millennium Dome. On the left you could see the Old Observatory Tower and the lush green surroundings. Marvels of ancient and modern architecture hand in hand with the best of what nature can provide. More over, She was there in front me looking at me with a sense of mixed sensation and anticipation of what my surprise was. If joined forces, John Constable and Van Gogh couldn’t paint a better picture.
Then and there, I told her, that I have brought her here because this is the place the time starts. This is where standards are set. This was the middle of the earth. Being here was being in the presence of greatness, in the presence of all things good and pure. I could have thought of no better place, no where more relevant and symbolic to declare to this great woman that I loved her, tirelessly, endlessly, and passionately. I wanted to tell her that nothing made me happier or more honoured than to spend my life with her. To grow old (read older) with her.
As I’m writing these lines I am looking at the picture we took at that point. We took it so that our children would one day know where our time began, and where we set a new standard for love.
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