Last Friday night, Alec informed me that he would be picking me up at 8.30 am the next morning, and taking me away for the weekend. I wasn’t allowed to know where, and didn’t need to bring anything special, not even a passport. And I didn’t have to tell my parents anything – he’d already told them more than he was telling me.
The next morning, he was at my front door at 8.30 sharp, with a yellow rose. The waiting cab took the expressway towards the city, but bypassed it totally. We were on Clementi Road going past the university, and I was perplexed. We were far away from any hotels worth going to, but we weren’t leaving the country. WTF?
We finally pulled up at West Coast Pier and Alec hauled a big styrofoam icebox out of the boot along with our bags. As far as I could see, I was the only female in a bunch of middle-aged men with fishing tackle. This was not quite Casablanca.
We cleared immigration, which required nothing more than ICs, and waited at the pier. When a boat arrived for us with the PSA logo, I finally realized where we were going. Sultan Shoals is a tiny island off the west coast of Singapore. It’s got a beautiful old colonial lighthouse, 2 chalets, 2 fishing jetties, and nothing else. I’d mentioned it to Alec a long time ago, in the context of maybe organizing something with some of our friends, but nothing had come of it. Now I found that we’d have this whole island to ourselves for the weekend.
Alec asked if I’d mind waiting outside the chalet for a little while. He wanted to do some things inside. He’d got me a book to read while waiting: Truman Capote’s decidedly unromantic In Cold Blood. If anyone else had done this, I might have dived into the open seas and swum back to the mainland screaming; however, Alec happened to know that I’d been wanting to read this book for ages, but hadn’t been able to get my hands on it in the library. I opened it to start reading, and found this inscription:
Inside the chalet, Alec had put flowers and candles everywhere, brought laboriously from the mainland the previous day.
In the icebox, he’d brought lots of my favourite food and drink – salmon sashimi, steak, Coke, Hoegaarden, a baby coconut. Hash browns and eggs so he could cook us the weekend breakfast fry-ups we’d loved so much at my corner caff in London. My favourite childhood snack, Bee-Bee, for me to eat while watching DVDs (which he’d also brought).
We settled down for a sashimi lunch (to continue the random serial killer allusions, I put Calla’s Strangler on the stereo) and an afternoon of lounging, reading (for me), studying (for Alec, who has professional exams in two weeks’ time), napping and strolling round the island. This is us in front of the lovely lighthouse. (Note: Photos linked instead of displayed in this entry have our faces in them and are viewable only by my Flickr friends. If you know us in real life and want to see these, just add me as a friend so I can authorise you.)
You’re probably supposed to have fancy cuisine and wine at dinners like this, but we like steak and beer. Also, it just feels right to sear a steak while growling along to Nick Cave on the sound system.
After dinner, we watched Before Sunset, which I was happy to find was still as wonderful as the first time I saw it.
While the credits rolled, Alec excused himself and went into the bedroom. He came out several minutes later in a tuxedo, and asked me if I’d like a walk round the island. In front of the lighthouse, he knelt down and asked me to marry him. Of course, I said yes.
* * * * *
And so we prepare to move from almost 5 years of easy, constant bliss, into the rest of our lives. I’m not generally an envious person, but there have been various times during my 26 years when I’ve observed the good fortune of other people, be it in physical appearance, capability, resources, or just dumb luck, and wished I could equal them. Within a few months of going out with Alec, I knew that where love was concerned, I would never envy anyone else.