The fresh, light feeling of brand new post-marriage is starting to dissolve now, leaving in its place something reassuring and delightfully unfamiliar. This is the way I wanted to feel this time last year - it's the way I've thought I should be feeling ever since then, but have never managed to grasp it quickly enough for it to manifest itself as any sort of permanent or even semi-permanent way of being. Now I'm swimming in it, boring my new husband with it, getting drunk on it and allowing it to pull me out of bed on a Sunday morning (aided by a pot of Darjeeling, which is simply beautiful) for some quiet time before the 'us' part of this Sunday begins.
The morning after our wedding I woke in York's beautiful Cedar Court Grand hotel to an eerie silence. I was tired and sore after a night of ceilidh dancing, as well as starving hungry and pretty hungover, but aside from this all-over physical noise everything was unusually quiet. My head - for the first time in months, if not more - wasn't shouting out a list of to-dos and to-bes; instead it was lying there almost empty, calmly playing through the images of the previous day without any sense of urgency or even excitement. I was utterly at peace, with the sort of 'internal peace' that I've heard of often and until that point thought I understood, when actually it's possible that I hadn't had a moment's 'internal peace' until that morning after my wedding day. I had no wish to do anything or be anything other than what I was doing and being right there: no external pressures piled up the moment I opened my eyes, and I was struck by how unusual this was.
The next day we set off on our honeymoon in the Lake District, and by this point I had stopped feeling uneasy about the quietness of my mind and instead took it for what it was: urgently-required down-time. I had a week of this peacefulness, accompanied by happy conversations about the wedding, the engagement, and the future that we realised was suddenly ours to hold, all set against the back-drop of Lakeland mountains in late September. It was bliss, and everything we needed from our honeymoon - switching off and slowing down and re-connection and reflection, accompanied by a bounty of fresh air, real ale and amazing food.
We returned home feeling that inevitable sadness that it was really all over, and that reality had to recommence as we always knew it would. But I also felt eager to get back into life without the wedding to think about, without an excuse to sail away on a daydream at 2pm in the afternoon to find myself inadvertently typing 'buttonholes' or 'alternative bridal footwear' into Google Scholar. I'd hated my distracted head in the run-up to September, and at times had really struggled to concentrate on some of the really big projects that I was involved in; my studies had sailed so far down my priority list, and I was starting to feel a little fraudulent and way too flippant about my PhD. But that's where we pick up now, three weeks after that morning of empty-headed newlywed bliss (and it feels so much more than three weeks ago), when I can safely say that my head is no longer empty or quiet, but instead is buzzing in a way very similar to those pre-wedding Sunday mornings when I had to get up and sort out the bunting or the order of service or try out my make up just one more time. Those thoughts have been replaced by big ideas and massive daydreams; a constant stream of ideas and exciting prospects that I'm dreaming up in the space that was for so long taken up by my impending marriage. I feel as if I've been granted space to plan my own future with more confidence, and things are forming before my eyes that I know have always been there, pushed to the side by thoughts frilled with white lace and studded with pearls.
In my wedding speech I said how Daniel made me believe I'm capable of anything, and that has never been more true than it is right now. It's probably a rather conceited thing to think, and an even more conceited thing to put into words for anyone to take hold of, but this feeling is such a strong one and it's available to everyone with enthusiasm and the right outlet in which to express it. I feel very much as if I've landed in the right place, after a year of feeling like an imposter in somewhere that was never quite what I wanted it to be, despite wanting it more than anything else in the world. It was a jarring contradiction of big dreams materialising and also somewhat of a let-down. It was scary, and I spent a lot of conversations with Daniel trying to justify the way I was feeling. Now I realise that my big dreams needed space to move and to grow, and that there was no space, only a crowd of increasingly overwhelming preoccupations. I feel right now as if my mind has been freed, and is finally ready for me to take on this ambition that I've been harbouring at the back of my mind for a year now. I finally feel capable, as if I have the tools, the support and - essentially - the space to build. Having felt as if I were on the edge of something massive for the past 12 months, I've now dived right in there, and am swimming contentedly, even drowning contentedly at times.