Kimmeridge, Dorset, almost forty years ago.
A young couple, happy, relaxed. At one with their surroundings, and with each other. Marriage was an unknown shape on the horizon. People had pointed to it and tried to convince us of its universal qualities. Some identified it as a replica of something they, themselves, had built. A piece of emotional architecture with rooms furnished from a catalogue of bespoke joy and misfortune. They led us through many richly decorated passages, into places where we were supposed to be shocked or surprised into heeding their words of wisdom. But we were young, and marriage remained little more than an unknown shape to us.
At the vow-taking stage, we heard the words, felt the gravity, and read the effects on the faces of those around us. But 'for richer, for poorer' - 'in sickness and in health' were nowhere to be seen on the road from where we were standing. In fact, we probably didn't believe they were places we would ever visit. They were backwaters, outposts, remote and uninviting. We pledged our truthfulness yet, in truth, we crossed our fingers, rather than our hearts, that we wouldn't be among those poor unfortunates for whom these words had been included. After all, we were young.
Nearly four decades forward, and our shape on the horizon is a recognisable, yet unique edifice. Its ups and downs defined, more than designed. Classic features juxtaposed with crude, utilitarian workmanship. Clever use of light, ensuring that dark corners are kept to a minimum, and colour schemes that reflect both passion and compassion.
We now know the shape that was barely visible on the horizon, when we were young. It was a blueprint of possibilities, held tightly in the hands of likelihood.