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We were surrounded by naked people – something that’s come to be expected on sunny German days in the wilderness. We’ve moved past the red-faced, eyes-darting discomfort that our English heritage provides and have come to appreciate this natural abandon. But not today, it seemed.
We’d come to Berlin’s forest, the Grunewald, for a picnic. With the film’s deadline approaching, it was one of the few precious days free from computers and stress that the weeks currently provide. Steve said he wanted to do something just us. He had plans for a special day.
It started in the way all weekend mornings in Berlin should, with an artful breakfast of tiny curled cheeses, dense breads and a smattering of fresh fruit. Coffee-drinking Berliners surrounded us and with my love before me, I felt that familiar feeling of gratitude for a beautiful life.
Buoyed by that glow, I was shielded from irritation. We’d planned to drive but the car wouldn’t start. Steve had left the lights on, running the battery dry. No problem, we’d take the train instead, stocking up on cakes along the way. We had a blanket, speakers and the slack line, our ingredients for forest frolics.
It was our first time to the Grunewald and we delighted in the mass of wilderness so close to the city’s heart. Steve had his sights set on one of the lakes so we made our way there through the tree-lined avenues until we found ourselves upon it.
And there be the naked people. Whole families barbequing in the nude, couples swimming and children running free. I smiled. “I guess we’ll be having our picnic surrounded by nudes”. “No, we can’t” said Steve. I was surprised by his response. Was prudishness re-claiming him? “I was just hoping for something more private” he explained.
So we bypassed the lake and explored some more, eventually finding a giant sand dune surrounded by wild flower meadows. “This is it”, he said, and we found ourselves a spot.
The mauve haze of blooms amid the grass beneath a blue and sunny sky was enchanting, and again, I felt overcome by a certain bliss. Steve put on the music and served some cake, and the day became even better.
I was happy and I took Steve’s hyper mood to be in the same vein. He couldn’t stay still, dancing around the grass and darting here and there. As I lay back on the blanket watching, he began to do some yoga. “What’s this pose called?” he said, and so began a game of yoga charades. I was concentrated, scanning my mind for Sanskrit – tadasana, uttanasana, chaturanga, adho mukha svanasana…
And then he was on one knee. ‘What about this one?” he said.
I was baffled. “I don’t know,” still rummaging for Sanskrit.
Then I saw his hand. He was holding something in it.
And then the words:
“Victoria, will you marry me?”
Time changed shape, I found the words “yes, yes”, our hands shook, and together we fell into a bundle of exuberant joy, the soundtrack of our favourite songs humming on the stereo beside us.
Love. This is love.
I was never a girl that dreamed of marriage. I was a youth that rebelled against it. But now, in this shape it makes sense. Our love is the most treasured part of my life. It’s cause to celebrate. It’s cause for ritual. It’s cause to share with all we love.
Thank you Steve, for everything you are and everything you do.
He’s not a prude, he’s a romantic.