The stage was set.
Michael and I were at a fabulous restaurant, Bridges in Ubud, Bali.
We arrived to be welcomed back by the staff who remembered us from the lunch we’d had there a few days earlier. The restaurant was romantically lit, the colour scheme cream and dark brown with pieces of metal and rope around mimicking the nearby bridge over the Campuhan River. We stepped out into a terrace open to the world. A verandah overhead with fans spinning and took up our seats on the balcony. The waiters pulled our chairs out and pushed them in for us as we sat down and fluffed our napkins for us.
To my left was the valley with the river far below, I could see the bridge with its LED rope lights marking its span. The lush growth of the forest is highlighted by huge spot lights. The long slender coconut tree with the orchids and ferns growing from its trunk. The banana trees with vines dangling from the canopy towards the river, the tree with so many other plants growing on it it looks ready to fall over. In the distance we could see Murni’s where we’d eaten a few times. To my right an English couple, happily ordering their meal and a bottle of wine. In their 60’s probably on holiday quietly chatting with each other.
In front of me Michael. In his blue button up shirt only worn for dinner. Two buttons open. His hands and fingers moving as he talks, his brown eyes looking at me, his terrific smile, he’s happy and engaged with the staff and with me as we order our meal of fish and wine.
Our conversations are always far-ranging. We start by talking about creating software for predictive election results and how that would work. We talk a bit about How to Vote Cards, my children and what’s happening with them, my sister Angela, Jo and Rob arriving as we leave Bali.
The conversation now turns towards marriage. We have many times spoken about getting married. I have asked many times if Michael would like to get married, his answer a rather evasive ‘moot point’ response. Even if we want to get married we can’t in Australia. We will wait until the law is changed and then we can talk about it, along with the obvious retort from either of us “Is that a proposal? Aren’t you suppose to be on one knee?”
As I’ve said to him many times I actually don’t need to get married to him. I don’t need to have our relationship recognised by anyone else. I understand what he means to me, I know that in my heart I have a deep love for him. There is no part of me that needs independent recognition of our relationship. I’m in this for life.
Then, it changes. I don’t need to get married to Michael. I want to. I no longer have enough words to express how much I value him in my life, what it is that we have. I sense that I now need something that takes us to the next level. Something that is symbolic of that love we share and the unspoken commitment that we have to each other. I need a way to express that to him, and to those I love that here is a man who is important to me. A man who I want to spend my life with, that I want to love and be loved by in return. A man I want to share everything with. A man who makes my heart sing.
The question is asked, like it has been asked so many times. Michael tries to avoid an answer. We talk about how this is about me needing to find something that expresses the way I feel about him, how important and valuable this relationship is. He talks about how all of that is mutual, Michael has already made a commitment to our relationship in his own mind. I sit and look and wait, it slowly dawns on him that I’m actually asking a question that now needs a yes or no answer. I ask him, putting aside the reality of not being able to marry in Australia, will he marry me.
With tears in our eyes he says yes.
Life goes on around us, plates and glasses come and go, people chat and laugh, we look at each other with a huge amount of love and emotion as we struggle to find a way to express what’s just happened. We shed some tears, we smile at each other we struggle with the reality of going public.
The get away to Bali has been terrific, I’ve been able to see and do things outside my everyday life. I’ve found a partner and friend in Michael who I want to be with. We have five solid years together. I’ve found a way to express the depth of my feeling towards another person. We have found a way to share those feelings with our families and friends in our lives. We have an understanding, we have an acceptance. We have love.