For every time you picked me up

A note to my wonderful husband of 6 years, my love for 15 years. Thank you for always picking me up in this great adventure of life together. Happy anniversary x

There is this man whom, from the very first time we met, picked me up and helped me find my feet. Has been there holding my hand through thick and thin, by my side, laughs with me and sometimes at me, my fellow adventurer, Superman to my Wonder Woman, deepest love and truest friend.

And I am not being philosophical about it. It is true. He literally picked me up off the floor and helped me on my feet.

The very first night I met my future husband Nigel was, hilariously enough, at a club called Destiny in Plymouth just before Easter in the year 2001 where we both went to university. I fainted at the bar while he was about to buying us a drink. No, it was not the alcohol and yes, he would like to think it was because his presence was so intense that I was overwhelmed. I can only imagine the look on his face when the woman he just “pulled” from the dance floor was lying in a heap on the floor beside him. Like a true English gentleman he picked me up, checked that I was ok and brought me back to my friends. More like “deposited me back in their care”. Possibly trying to rid himself of the lunatic lady plastered to the floor beside him. Tough luck.

Months later we saw each other again and started dating. Over the 2 years while I finished university and he went to work, he drove 3 hours every other weekend to see me and remained calm and loving despite my 1:30am phone calls blubbering about how much I missed him and what my flatmates and I did that night. He picked me up during those late nights when I felt down or just needed to hear his voice. Do you know what I noticed the very first time we started dating? How he would hold my hand tight as we walked down streets to the town centre, always keeping me on the side away from traffic. I found it so amusing and incredibly lovely. He must really like me or think I am incredibly incompetent, either way, I fell for him. Loving him comes naturally. So naturally that I blurted out “I love you” one night unexpectedly as we were getting ready to go out. I realised it a second later and slammed the door on his face absolutely embarrassed. He said “I love you” later after trying to get it out of me again and laughing for ages.

He picked me up throughout 2001 – 2003 during time when I twisted my ankle on ridiculously high heels in the cobble stone streets of Paris, France or tripping on the way home after nights out in Windsor, Reading or the Royal Ascot in the UK with our friends. Height impediment makes you want to compensate. I was a fool. I wish I realised sooner that he actually loved me for said height impediment; being just the perfect size for him to put his arm around and lean against. Short girls can be a blessing.

He picked me up from various snow banks when I first learned how to ski in Andorra in 2004. I still have the uncanny ability to hit snow banks depending on my speed but better snow than sheer drops down a mountain I say. He has given me a love for skiing, when I eventually learned how to get down a red run without crossing my skis over each other and falling over myself.

He helped me when I could not lift the scuba tank on my back towards the end of that year, the first time he came to the Philippines on our family Christmas to Boracay. I like to pretend that I cannot lift much when in fact I have incredibly strong leg and back muscles for my height. I can carry almost anything; most people who know me know just how much I carry in my backpack each day and my obsession for collecting stones. I was never one who wanted help, but with him I just feel helpless. Not in a bad way, but I felt like I could let go and have someone care for me. And on a rocky boat the middle of an ocean, it is very easy to “pretend” to be helpless. I feel so lucky to be able to explore the deep blue with him. I first learned how to dive with my sister Sheena when we were kids in Cebu and now I have another person I can rely on under the sea. We tried kiteboarding for the first time too, you have no idea how many times I fell flat on my face. Water is not soft.

He picked me up when I tripped on the floor boards of the HMS Victory at the Portsmouth dockyards in 2005. They are pretty uneven floorboards and I was actually wearing flats. I figured that, if I was a seafarer or a pirate in my past life I may have not lasted long on deck. Rubbish with telling the difference between left and right (good with directions, bad with words) and the rum would have helped me overboard.

The countless times he picked me up before I feel over myself, yes alcohol was involved this time, when we celebrated the engagement of our friends at a ski holiday in Andorra. “Awesome” shots. Lots and lots of “awesome” shots. The good thing about snow and mountain air is that there is usually no hangovers.

He picked me up again in 2006 when I stumbled on the stairs as we climbed up the narrow stair case of the library building in Oxford. As you can tell, I am really quite clumsy. If you are ever with me, watch me as I try to stand straight. I cannot. I manage to always semi trip on the side of my feet. Despite that, he still loves me and proclaims I am not a bad dancer. So sweet. I hope the fact that he wears high grade contacts has nothing to do with his opinion.

He picked me up as I continued to learn to ski in Andorra on holiday with friends, and when we played like kids on the last day after the snow fell all night and they had to close the mountain. I actually sunk into the snow.

He was protecting me when we ran through the Halloween Maze at Thorpe Park. Actually he pushed me in the path of the spray of the massive water ride so I can minus points on him for that. It was freezing and I was drenched. In October in the UK.

He picked me up in 2007 as we climbed up rivers and rappelled down waterfalls in Moalboal, Cebu. I grew up loving Indiana Jones. You would not believe how ecstatic I was knowing that I had my own “Dr Jones” in him. Someone I can jump cliffs with into pools of water. Who I can be crazy with and simply enjoy the world with.

Later that year he picked me up in Rome and the Vatican when I twisted my ankle in a final feeble attempt to wear heels as we ran through ancient cobblestone streets. I was starting to really hate heels.

He picked me up in 2008 when I bolted out of the bed and scrambled away in our Bedouin camp in Egypt where a spider the size of my fist was chilling out on the net right above our heads. I hate spiders. He picked me up when I tried to get off a camel or a donkey with the grace of a hippo on the bronze sand dunes. My fellow explorer of the tombs inside the Great Pyramids, the Valley of the Kings, the White Desert and Luxor. When we swam in the surprisingly cold waters of the Nile on our nights in a fallucca. Looking back, Egypt was the ultimate test, if we could camp in a desert without killing each other then it was meant to be. And considering he had plenty opportunities to hide my body in the sands if I did get on his nerves but didn’t was a very good sign.

He picked me up again that same year when I tried my high heel wearing attempt once more in Sorrento, Italy. The weekend where I begrudgingly left the comfortable couch, my drink and the awesome pianist so that he could surprise me and go down on one knee at the balcony of the Caruso Hotel. I was overwhelmed when he asked me to marry him. I had no clue. I was a blubbering fool in the dead of night, standing in shock looking at the ring that he held up at me as he said the words “Will you marry me?” At some point I eventually regained the ability to speak and say “Yes!”.

However from that time on, I learned to trust my sense of direction and not his when we got lost on the steep back streets one night. Steep cliff side pathways, high heels and a hungry Marcie = Bad combination. He said that the restaurant was down on the left. I remember seeing lights and a sign on the right. I think we spent 2 hours finding our way back. Never ever again will I trust his sense of direction or my sense in footwear. Below is photo evidence of my “happy face” transforming to the “not amused” face within hours. Hangry. Daggers for eyes. Good thing love conquers all.

Though he did question my own common sense as I brought my lock pick set (don’t ask) on the holiday and naturally got stopped, searched and interrogated by the Italian police in the airport. To be honest I think the Italian police secretly like the idea of a female international spy/cat burglar with a lock pick set and a UK and Philippine passport in her small suitcase. We learn something new all the time.

He was there with me in 2009 when we absailed down walls and did our first indoor skydive in the UK. When we went on a spy training course day and three knives at boards. Or when we learns how to use a whip during a circus experience. What strange things we get up to, yet I loved every moment of them.

When we skied down the mountain during a massive white out snow storm in Austria and warmed ourselves with mini shots of Jaegermeister for the rest of the evening with our friends. He was there leading the way down to safety, checking back to make sure I was ok. We were on the very top of the mountain and all we saw was white everywhere, could not see the piste or the edge of the cliffs. What an adventure.

He picked me up and dropped me off every day at the train station on my way to work since we moved in together. Even on days when cars could not pass, he walked me to the station. Which I found slightly unfair. Not that he got me safely to the station but that I had to go to work and he didn’t have to!

He picked me up and kissed me in 2010 when we completed the candle, veil and cord ceremony during our beautiful wedding in Boracay. We intertwined our lives symbolically with sand during the sand ceremony on the beach with family and friends as our witnesses.

He held me for the first time as his wife and celebrated with everyone through the night. The days we were there are among the happiest days of my life.

We were so lucky that we got to celebrate again with family and friends in the UK, holding umbrellas for each other under the drizzle in the golf course gardens. A lot of hilarious and unique stories came out from that night, we still laugh when we remember them with everyone.

He held me as his wife when we enjoyed the sights during our honeymoon in Singapore and Thailand, a trip he kept absolutely secret from me the entire time. I had no clue where we were going or what we were doing. Took my breath away.

He also tried to hold me still after I had my absinthe ice cream and had to sit in a small room and behave during a classical violin concert in Prague. That ice cream was seriously potent. It was the most surreal classical concert we have been to, though recent trips to the Royal Opera House, one of our favourite past times, may have topped it since. But I still haven’t found absinthe ice cream anywhere else. Shame.

He guarded me and held me close during a random heavy rainstorm in the middle of a hot day in Marrakesh, Morocco when we were walking around the Souks after the snake charmer and henna woman tried to con money from us. We escaped and found our way back to the Riad despite the kids trying to “help” us find the hotel, attempting to get us lost to also make money by giving us the real directions once we felt hopelessly trapped in those narrow streets. Nice try kids, I have been to Marrakesh before so I know your tricks you cheeky buggers. Don’t get me wrong, it was a fantastic trip, so many funny moments.

He held my hand in 2011 in Seville, Spain as we walked under the orange trees of the lamp lit streets and had wine and tapas at the bars. Flat shoes this time, I finally learned my lesson.

As we rocked out in Hyde Park in London to Bon Jovi with our friends. I needed a lot of holding then. Rum and Coke. Enough said.

When we went under the Earth into narrow tunnels and underground caverns in Wales during a caving experience. He helped me through some really narrow places. It was intimate. He had to actually push my damn bum through one though section.

When we went white water rafting in Wales and actually he didn’t help me up, he and the boys conspired to drench the girls by taking us to a “trip to Venice” which involved a relaxing row followed by a dunk into a mini waterfall. What gentlemen.

He waited patiently as I tried my best to get up on the damn surf board when we had a surfing class in Cryode. As always, he picks it up naturally. In my defence, I lost my left toe nail the day before so it hurt quite a bit in salt water.

When we learned how how to control a shotgun during a shooting experience with friends. True marriages show this kind of restraint.

When we dove into the ocean around Bohol or explored the chocolate hills of the countryside with my family, he was there by my side.

He walked side by side with me when we started all our camping and hiking trips around the UK in 2012 and continued our yearly ski holiday with friends.

When we climbed up the Inca Trail across Dead Woman’s Pass to Machu Picchu in Peru. The 4 day trek hard but he was patient and was there by my side if I ever struggled. Up hill and short legs are tough. I am an expert at the downhill parts, lower centre of gravity is on my side. I could not have asked for a better fellow explorer of the ruined ancient city or the temple of the moon at Wayna Picchu.

In 2013 he was that supportive hand at my back when I felt I could not go further during our London 10k and Grimm Blackout 7 mile night trail run. He literally had his hand on my back egging me on and pulled me out of a few mud holes.

When we spent a week on the road and completed our climb over the three largest mountains in the UK, Snowdon, Skarfell Pike and Ben Nevis for the 3 Peaks Challenge.

When we did all kinds of fantastic dives, explored temples and rice fields of Bali, meeting up with our families for the New Year.

In Meribel, France in 2014 with our friends when I got the courage from him to go down a mountainside that would usually have terrified me. My confidence in skiing just grew so much, especially since we had not skied for a while.

He was by my side as we explored the streets of Havana and dove the oceans in Varadero during a family holiday to Cuba. I love this photo so much. By this time he started to share my love for photography and has become a “paparazzi” like me.

When we went back to the Philippines and saw the amazing islands of El Nido in Palawan. We went back home to pay our respects on the 25 year anniversary of my fathers passing. He held me when we remembered Papa, which meant so much to me as I knew it would not feel right without him.

He was my driving partner as we drove around the entire Iceland countryside to explore all the glaciers, waterfalls and mountains (and more waterfalls) in 2015 with our friends, one of the most awe inspiring trips we had so far.

My fellow explorer of Dubrovnik in Croatia and the old city of Kotor in Montenegro on holiday with his family.

The man who was calm, collected and helped me and my family during the final three hours of the year as we were evacuated away from the area where the hotel fire was in Dubai during New Years Eve. Who carried my 4 year old cousin who had fallen asleep, exhausted from the night’s events. Who dove in a shark tank with me in a mall of all places! Who eagerly goes into a tank full of 30 sharks? We do.

The man who picked me up during those moments when I felt the ground give way under me when I lost a loved one. Grandma, Grandpa, Lolo, Lola, aunts and uncles, dear friends. His Grandma, aunt and uncle. He held me and I held him after each loss. We picked each other up and helped each other move forward by keeping their memories good and strong. He was that comforting voice when I was terrified after a crash I had with a lorry just before I moved to London from Wigan. When my car got broken into in the dead of night in a dark and empty car park in Manchester. He was there when I was at the hospital when I found out it was a cyst and not breast cancer. He was there through every medical emergency, from broken ribs through to every pain imaginable. He helped me through it all.

The man I spend most evenings with laughing, dancing to rock or classic tunes (I think all out music is officially classified “old” now!) and cooking (he would chop onions for me otherwise I have to wear goggles just to be in the same room and that just looks stupid doesn’t it?) with in the kitchen before we have dinner and get all cuddled up on the couch as we watch University Challenge, Only Connect, some random antiques show, an adventure travel or nature documentary, or catching up on one of the hundreds of tv series we love in Amazon or Netflix.

He never really sees the plots for most because he falls asleep after 30 minutes. I am apparently very cosy and warm. His “Radiator Girl” if there was such a super power. Man I wish I had a super power.

I don’t mind if he falls asleep while I rest on his chest. This amazing man, my husband, will be the one who would wake me up when I finally doze off (the sound of my snoring wakes him up), pick me up off the couch so that we could get ready for bed (he even puts the toothpaste on my toothbrush every time!) and start another day, another week, month and year together. Doing who knows what next. It is a big and exciting world. And by looking back at our history so far, I would like to think nothing was impossible. No matter how big or small, I do not mind. As long as he is there with me beside me. Holding my hand, giving me that extra push of encouragement or picking me up. I hope that I somehow pick him up in my own way as well.

Happy Anniversary to my habibi. Thank you for picking me up that very first night and for every time since. It would be impossible to capture every moment and every memory since we first met on here, but wow; haven’t we done so many amazing things together? I cannot wait to continue the rest of my life with you. Thank you for every touch, kiss, hug and look that reminds me of just how much I love you.

Your clumsy wife,

Tasha xxx