A day like no other... (when two lost souls found the light)

My eyes sprung open, I looked at the clock, 5.30 am. Come on, go back to sleep, you don’t want to be tired for your big day. But alas, my mind was already in full swing, rattling off everything I needed to do that morning. The house was a mess, my room a disaster, how would I do my hair, makeup, coffee first or straight to a glass of champagne, oh fuck, I bet my eyes are a mess, holy shit I can’t believe I am getting married today! Out of all of the thoughts my mind was throwing at me, it was the fear of having huge puffy eyes on my wedding day that finally prompted me out of bed. You see there had been many tears the night before as my father had turned up to surprise us (if you have been reading my blogs you will know that this was no easy feat considering he lived on the other side of the world and we only gave 5 days’ notice). I don’t know about anyone else, but I am most definitely not very attractive when I cry, not only this but the effects normally last well into the next day with a term I endearingly coin – puffy eye syndrome. After a quick check in the bathroom mirror where my suspicions were confirmed (I most definitely had P.E.S), I crept through the house to the kitchen to see what remedy I could find. I came back to bed with a bag of frozen berries (don’t ask me why), in the hopes that if I dabbed at my eyes with these the puffiness would disappear and I would look fresh and photo-shopped (a woman can always hope right?!)

After half an hour of this, my mind switched from rattling off all of the things I needed to do and ironically (considering it was the one that hammered me with thoughts to begin with) switched to scolding me instead: ok Tash, really, time to get some sleep now, otherwise you are going to be a wreck this afternoon (is it ok to take a nap on your wedding day?) I closed my eyes for another 10 minutes, trying to breathe deeply, calmly and think OM-like thoughts, but by this stage I could hear my Dad moving around a little now too (he was asleep on a mattress opposite my bed) he was definitely awake – even having travelled over 2 days to arrive in Croatia he was still not a man to sleep in. Dad? Yea. You awake? What do you think? (ever the smart-arse) Wanna go for a walk and grab some coffee? Yip. So it was almost 7am, me and Dad took off for a walk down the hill to sit at a small café on the beach (the joy of living in Croatia). As we were sitting there chatting idly about nothing in particular, I couldn’t help but be in awe of this amazing, humble man that I am lucky enough to call my father; and the fact that he was now sitting opposite me on a beach in Croatia was all too much to bear *holds back tears* I soaked in every minute and felt like a little girl again, sitting proudly with her father. We chatted about this and that, then my father in his ever so nonchalant, matter-of-fact way said: “you seem happy, Mirko is a good man, I am glad I am here to see the love and family you are surrounded by” *oh god, don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry…*

Around 8ish we started back for the house, expecting that surely everyone else would be up by now. We entered a quiet house to find that everyone was still sleeping. We made another coffee, opened my stash of Tim Tams (the best biscuit in the world) and patiently waited for everyone to get up and the day to begin. By 9am, there was still no sign of movement, so it was time for me to take matters into my own hands, I mean I am fairly relaxed, but come on, we had a wedding to get ready for, so I proceeded to jump on my future husband, sister-in-law and friend Amelia like a kid excited to open their presents Christmas morning! One by one the balcony filled up, Mirko’s parents and best man soon arrived (the only ones dressed) and we almost had the makings of a pretty decent party. The coffee began to flow (because we are of course in Croatia you understand), accompanied by me teaching everyone how to do a ‘Tim Tam Slam’ (Note: a tim tam slam is when you take a bite from each end of the chocolate coated biscuit, use it like a straw to suck your coffee through, then quickly slam it into your mouth as it disintegrates into amazing gooey awesomeness). Now I cannot say that I have been a part of many weddings, but the buzz in the air was palpable – if there is something higher than Cloud 9, I was there.

Enough of the coffee, it was time for champagne! We were all still sitting on the balcony, I had at least had a shower by now and was sipping on champagne while my god send Amelia was doing my hair. I looked around at everyone, glanced at the clock and realized that it was 11am and NO ONE was ready (we were to get married at 1pm), so once again it was time to give everyone a little push. Finally we were all showered and everyone (but me) was dressed, we even managed to find some clothes to fit dad perfectly (his bag had not been so lucky and was somewhere between Australia, Italy and Croatia) – actually I think he was pretty chuffed with the situation, because the lack of his own luggage and any other shoes that fit, meant that he was going to get to wear his sneakers for the big day (something I think he was secretly hoping for). By this stage it was now 12pm, thankfully our destination was only a 10 minute drive away, well, usually that is… as we looked over the balcony, we were met with a sea of unmoving traffic. Fuck… I was still not exactly stressed, but the only thing that went through my mind was: this is Croatia, if we don’t arrive on time, I would not be surprised if they decide to pack-up shop (so to speak, don’t worry we were not getting married in some alley-way shop) and go home for ‘fjaka’ (a Croatian term for the art of doing nothing, siesta if you will). I told the boys to get on their way, so at least they could arrive on time and ensure that there would be a wedding. I, myself was still in my underwear, with only an hour to finish getting ready and to somehow make it through the huge line of traffic. This would be interesting.

Amelia did a lovely (quick) job with my makeup, I went into my room, threw on my dress (apparently everyone was meant to watch/help me do this and take photos, I am definitely not well versed in weddings as you can tell), slapped some lippy on and it was 12.30, time to jump in the car! Amelia said, but we still haven’t finished your hair? No problem, we can do it in the car on the way, bring the flowers and bobby pins! (It might sound a little pompous, but can I self-proclaim to be the world’s most chilled bride here?) Just as we were all running out the door, the phone rang. I wouldn’t normally answer it, but did so instinctively and was so happy to hear the voice of my beautiful friend Rachel from London, such a lovely note to leave the house on.

All of us ladies piled into the car and Meri (my future mother-in-law) was behind the wheel. Traffic was at a complete standstill, but there was no way this was going to stop Meri. As she pulled out onto the road, there was only 1 option – and that was of course to drive on the opposite side of the road where there was no oncoming traffic with horn blazing! God I love Croatia AND my mother-in-law Meri!! So there we were, 5 women in a car, Meri driving, tooting and shouting, Josipa (my sister-in-law) jumping out of the car any time we came to a corner to stop on-coming traffic and waving us through like a highly trained traffic warden, Amelia trying to finish pinning flowers in my hair and me laughing at the hilarity and chaos of it all. I am not even sure any passers-by would have known what was going on, because I was not exactly an obvious bride, as far as they could see, I was just a woman in a yellow dress getting her hair done in the backseat of a car… we got a mixed response, some cheering, leering, some clapping and some very strange looks, but we didn’t care in the slightest, we were on a mission! It really was like a scene out of a cliché chick-flick movie, but nope, this was exactly how it all went down and most definitely MY wedding day!

We arrived at 1.02pm, it couldn’t even be considered fashionably late. We were met by the town Registrar and translator, but no sign of the boys! After a mildly concerned phone call, it turns out that the boys had tried to take a shortcut that backfired and had ended up in the heart of the traffic jam (well of course this was because they didn’t have the spunky Meri driving them!) The very adventurous car ride had done a great job of killing my nerves because the whole scene was just for too incredible to take in. But now that the traffic had disappeared and the music and laughter had died down, my nerves started to creep back in again. Actually it wouldn’t be right to call them nerves at all, I knew with every ounce of my being, that this was the right decision, but it was just all so overwhelming (considering I was still reeling from the shock of having my father with me, the realization that I was about to get married was finally starting to sink in). Waves of emotions washed over me, I could feel the tingly remnants of each left shimmering on my skin.
Did I mention that when I was getting ready I barely even looked in the mirror? There was very little time to become obsessed, but honestly this wasn’t the reason, I really didn’t care, all I could think about was the fact that I was about to marry the love of my life, nothing else mattered. Ironically enough, I have never felt so beautiful in all of my life. I felt as if my soul was glowing in an incredible golden hue and it was expanding from my centre in all directions (and I am not exaggerating or using my creative license, this is as close as a description to how I felt as I can manage). Tears kept threatening to spill over and I was using all of my zen-strength to hold it together. Breathe, just breathe. Thankfully the small team of wonderful women I had around me did absolutely everything right. With their unwavering love and support, they helped steady my nerves and were my calming essence; Amelia with her words and Josipa with her actions – at one stage she noticed that my emotions were starting to take hold, disappeared for a moment and then minutes later a waiter from the restaurant across the road, came strolling over with a tray of drinks for everyone, do I need to say it again? This was definitely MY wedding day…. There are not enough words to describe my gratitude to these women, Hvala Puno!!

The boys finally arrived, my future husband stepped out of the car and I couldn’t have been more in love if I tried and god dam he looked good (Note to self: I must get this man in a shirt and trousers more often!) Then there was my father, who I still almost choked up every time I looked at him. The atmosphere was again lively as we each took turns explaining our different journeys to get there – ours of course taking the cake. Then it was time to move in… breathe, just breathe. I took my father’s arm as we walked into the town hall (not exactly up the aisle, but as close as it gets). I kissed my dad on the cheek then took my place, Mirko to my right and Josipa to my left. Everything else stopped. There was just the present moment. I wish I could remember the words that the ladies spoke leading up to declaring us husband and wife, but alas they are lost in time. All I can say is that they were so beautiful and fitting I still cant be sure if it was just coincidence or they wrote the words for us, but whatever the case, they were perfect. I turned to Josipa to see her eyes filled with tears, I took a hold of her hand and Mirko, then steadied myself as I prepared to say I DO.

As we took our places, Mirko to my right, Josipa to my left everything else stopped. There was just this moment. We had two ladies performing the ceremony, one speaking in Croatian and the other translating to English. I wish I could remember the words to insert here, but alas, they are lost in time, all I can say is that they were so beautiful and fitting, I couldn’t tell if it was a coincidence or if they. As they asked Mirko whether he takes me to be his bride (I don’t think it was these words), I turned to him and whispered loud enough for everyone to hear: last chance to run away… There was some laughter before he said the inevitable I do…Then it was my turn, I held my breath then responded a short and sharp: “hocu” (I will in Croatian), then I do!! A small discreet kiss to seal the deal, and we were now husband and wife. This was the breaking point, I had managed to hold back the tears all morning and all through the ceremony, but now they streamed down my face – and my husband wiped them away.

We signed our new names, followed by more tears, laughter, hugs and kisses all round, and that was that. There was something so sacred and profound about that moment, it is definitely NOT just a piece of paper (nor does the fact that we didnt get married in a church make it any less significant - comments I would be met by later). I felt as if the whole Universe came to a standstill, held its breath as we said I do and then took a beautiful golden string and tied our two lives together right there in front of our loved ones. We stepped outside of the town hall as Mr and Mrs Pericic and were met with a shower of rose petals and more shots! This was by no accounts your typical wedding day, but by all accounts it was as genuine and true as they come. We each hold the pen to write the story of our lives and as I type these words I realize that while I may have wished all of my family and friends were there, I wouldn’t re-write one single detail about this day (not even the traffic jam). This was OUR wedding day, this is OUR story.

 A special note...
In loving memory of this beautiful woman, Baba Mare, you believed in our love from the start, and I am so glad you were there to share our special day ... "you are both two lost souls in a dark room, the only way you can reach the light switch is with each other"

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