“Keep up that smile and it will take you everywhere you like.”
I loved being pregnant. In my country people are rather reserved towards strangers – except for when they are expecting. People were approaching me, asking to touch my belly, doing small talk. I know a lot of soon-to-be mothers find this very annoying, but I am not one of them. After all, usually I am the one doing the approaching and touching. I am a constant invader of the comfort zone.
In July I was at a conference where I was awarded a scholarshop as prize for my talk and unofficially also the “happiest girl of the conference” award. That’s where a fellow scientist told me the line above. I attended the conference together with the Red Queen who was new to the institute. I had taken an instant liking to her. She is a lot like me: extroverted, energetic, impulsive, a little crazy – plus she brought chocolate on the first day I met her. Everything about her screamed: “You gotta love me!” She is about the Knight’s age, has tanned skin, dark hair and a Mediterranean spirit. Sharing a room with her was great fun, but at the end of our trip I got a quick glimpse at how sensitive she can be when she has one of her bad moods, suddenly turning her vicious and verbally aggressive. However, her moods were mostly up for many months to follow, presenting her as an amiable, cordial person and I soon welcomed her to my “inner circle” of friends.
My baby traveled with me all over Europe and Asia even before she was born. We had some adventures in a city where there was a big conference at the same time as protests in the very district the venue was located. The head of our institute ordered to cancel the trips of all of my coworkers in the last minute because he didn’t want to take the risk. Snow White* conviced him to let everybody make their own choice because “Lily is pregnant and she’s already down there.” I had traveled some hours earlier in order to arrive at the hotel at noon – a decision that saved me from exposure to tear gas and riots, as my coworkers who decided to come had to face. Apart from this one night the city was beautiful. A lot of policemen were patrolling the streets, but I often saw them play with children or pet the countless (and remarkably well cared for) alley cats. I guess they were not the bad guys by choice.
In fall, the Knight and I got married. We never actually asked each other – one day I had just started to make preparations. At first we planned to only walk in there, sign and be out in five minutes. I was worried about my parents not being able to be in the same room together – at least I did not want to upset my mom, who was already severely ill at that time – and in general, getting married was nothing special to us, more like a formality now that a child was on the way. The one thing I was looking forward to was taking on his name. Leaving my maiden name behind was hard, especially since I come from a family which is proud of what it has achieved, but I always knew I wanted to take my future husband’s name and the Knight’s goes well with my given name.
The Knight’s mother protested about not being invited, so we had to invite all parents, plus my sister as photographer. Adding the witnesses those were all the people who knew the date and location – I kept it a secret lest there would be an invasion from my side of the family. During the last weeks before the wedding I decided to design wedding invitations, which resulted in a motto. We were also asked for music wishes by the woman preparing the ceremony – we didn’t know registry offices do ceremonies, so we were pretty dumbfounded at first. I decided on piano music from Nobuo Uematso one of my favorite contemporary composers, the Knight had a soundtrack from his favorite movie. The songs were to be played alternatingly from his and my wishlist.
Because of some travel arrangements with our witnesses we actually ended up spending the last night before the wedding at seperate locations. I always thought this “don’t look at the bride before the wedding” thing to be unnecessary, but now that it happened to me I can very much recommend it. Meeting the Knight at the registration office right before our wedding added a certain awkwardness to the whole thing. There are awkwardnesses which are uncomfortable and some which are kind of sweet and charming. This one was the latter. We had no clue how we were supposed to behave. Were we allowed to kiss? Should we save that for when that woman told us to?
When it was time for the signatures and the music started to play I fought hard against tears. I knew my dad did too and lost. My sister took beautiful pictures throughout the day and I am very sorry for not being able to show you any. My parents were companionable and everything went well. It was the perfect wedding for the Knight and me.
And in case you wonder: no, I didn’t wear a white dress. I had a red one, with a very simple cut, fitting snugly around my already spherical features.
The same evening I sent my new husband out to go and play D&D. After all, that’s what he always did on Tuesday and the wedding night didn’t bear any surprises for me anyway.
* As a consequence of not spending every minute in the capital with the Witcher I got closer to her and we became friends.