Institutions, traditions, one’s own purpose are questioned. We are looking for our identity, our purpose in life, the sense, the justification of our existence. Consistency and stability have become a rare commodity. In a changing world we are looking for a foothold. For many this is the family. The close-knit group of people, who are genetically connected with each other.
We can remain in our original family but the majority is brave enough to go to the wide world and found a new family. The wedding is something magical, a dream come true, where bride and groom are the centre of the universe for one day. I think the promise to stay together for better, for worse, is very powerful and very binding.
Despite all emancipation efforts, despite an increased number of female university graduates, I rarely hear that a woman asked for a man’s hand. It seems that this is still the man’s task. And if everything goes well, the woman would like to be asked once in her life by the right man, possibly in a very special way, “Will you…” And being inventive is not that easy. Certain marriage proposals are so encoded that one has to provide a manual in order to understand it. I remember a friend who, many years ago, threw nine self-made post cards into a post box. The cards were artistically made and on each card one word was written. If one put them into order, it said” Dear Claudia will you marry me? Yours Thomas”
He waited anxiously for the reaction of his beloved. But there was none. The reason was simple, 3 of the cards never arrived. The message which arrived was Dear Claudia you me Yours. They got married nevertheless and Thomas lost all trust into the post. Understandably. I would have reacted the same after such experience.
Now I am on holidays and together with my son we go each morning to the beach. And one morning, there was an inscription made of sand, as if cast in concrete. “Joan will you marry me?” The day before the beach had been still empty. In the middle of the night someone must have worked a lot. I am touched and very impressed. What an idea, what an effort!!! The inscription on this wonderful beach under the Philippine sun is the dream of many women.
We later met Joan and she had been very much taken with the question and had said YES. A perfect happy end. For those two everything matched. They are young, clever, good looking, educated and in love. She is from Hong Kong, he is from Singapore.
For me it was right until I got to know that the sand proposal had been prepared by a hotel employee. Quasi as paid order. My disapproval is a personal judgement; I would prefer a self-made proposal. But every person sees this different.
I am not particularly fond of needlework. I can mend a hole, stitch on a button, but all attempts to knit failed. Needlework at school was horror for me and I owe my acceptable mark in this subject to Zdena, who corrected and finalised my failed attempts to such degree that they could be marked at all. In exchange I helped her with maths and thus our division of work was perfect. Our neighbour Thomas, then 40 years old, once asked me when I would learn how to knit. I was about 8 years old and answered “Never!”. He was irritated and asked how I would get the pullover I wanted to have and I said “I earn money and have someone knit the pullover for me”.