I’ve been back exactly a week and I’m still catching up on posts from when I was in England. There’s something I want to write about the medieval congress too, but that will have to wait till the weekend. Because nearly three weeks ago, before my graduation and before the congress, my cousin got married.
Richard moved from Adelaide to London shortly after I moved from Adelaide to the UK, six years ago. I started a Masters in York, he started a job in a bank (which he has since ditched to work at Google). It’s been so nice, all that time, to have a familiar face in London, not to mention a spare futon on which to crash when necessary. We’ve been friends a very long time. He’s about three years older than me, and I remember insisting on sending him an invitation to my birthday party when I was very small. ‘Mum, how do you spell Richard?’ ‘Just how it sounds, dear.’ ‘W-I-T-C-H-E-A-R-D’. Unfortunately my spelling has not improved greatly since then.
When I lived in York, first at the University Hall of Residence and then with Michael, he used to come up and visit us. Once, we made a snowman outside of Durham cathedral. Actually, he was the first member of my family to meet Michael (who’s German). ‘I like him a lot’, I confessed over a cup of tea and a scone in the York railway museum. ‘I can tell’, he said. ‘You can’t stop smiling.’ And last year Richard met the girl of his dreams, who happens to be from Russia, and now he’s married her. I think it’s brilliant. And I’m not the only one.
The wedding was great. Relaxed and heart-felt. Lots of family came across from Australia, making it a big reunion – my cousins and aunts and uncles from Adelaide, and my Dad’s cousins from Lancashire. Just in case you’re curious, here we all are when we were considerably smaller.
The priest who married them is also a journalist, and he mentioned my cousin and his bride in an article he wrote the following week:
I married a lovely young couple on Saturday. They very much represented our globalised parish today: the groom was of Australian extraction, working for Google; his bride was Russian. It’s optimistic these days for a priest to expect to marry couples in their “local” church, whatever that can mean. But it was a joyous occasion and a privilege to dispatch them on their journey of matrimony.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this ‘globalized parish’, this globalized world that we live in. The webs of love stretched across it, pulled taut. London is a long way from Adelaide, or Moscow for that matter. As Norway is from Germany or Australia. Richard visited Australia with his fiance in April, but they were engaged before his family had met her. Michael and I had been together a year (and living together for more than half that time) before my Mum met him. (This was a bit of a challenge for her, of which I was blissfully oblivious.)
The problem with these new loves is that they take us – or keep us – very far from home. And to get everyone we love in the same place is difficult, if not impossible – though at this wedding we gave it a pretty good shot! Here’s Richard with his sister, who’s still in Adelaide (and also a very close, very old friend of mine), and his brother, who’s soon to move to Perth with his wife and small daughter. They adore each other.
And here’s me and my brother, of whom I’ve sadly not seen a great deal for several years, but it’s been just brilliant to spend more time with him recently.
But family, it seems, is stretchable, flexible, adaptable. You can’t stop love springing up in unexpected places, and why would you want to? Who knows where it will take you.