On the faithful day of April 20th 2010, I was 5000 miles away from home in San Diego when a volcano eruption in Iceland grounded my flight. For the next ten days I would remain in the US, ten days that would change my life forever. It was on that night that I would meet the woman I would come to marry after being taken to a place I’ve never really fit in, church. If not for the random force of nature that occurred, nothing that came afterwards would have ever been possible. After writing an open letter to our daughter, I could see a look in my wife’s eye that said “Well, where the hell is my letter, Phil?” I have never been very good at expressing things to my wife, the living room vase is often left bereft of flowers, and neither have I been brilliant at public displays of affection to show “them bitches” that I’m all hers. So for my wife I write this letter to recount our first moments, and to remind her that while I may not have all the best qualities in a husband, I hope that I still have my moments.

To my wife Shannon, I remember the first time I saw you. I noticed your long brown hair that shone in the light, cascading over your shoulders like a beautiful waterfall, the kind you find in a tropical paradise or a shampoo commercial. You were smiling that smile, the one that lights up your face and compliments those cheeks, the kind you just want to pinch. I could tell you were flirting, I could see it in those deep hazel eyes, you’ll tell me you weren’t in the slightest but I know the sparkle they get, not to mention you were laughing at everything he said. Yes, HE.

At this point you hadn’t even noticed me. I was the dorky British guy on the other side of the room, pretending to be completely gripped by my book “Jurassic Park” so that I could go five minutes without somebody telling me my soul was going to hell, albeit with a warm smile on their face. Even back then I noticed you from across the room, as the brass band played music that cut through my head like a bone saw. Not to take anything from the band of course, it was like the musical number from The Little Mermaid “kiss the girl” had Scuttle been orchestrating and not Sebastian. But who am I kidding, at this point in time we were following different paths, soon to meet in the future. Besides, you were 15 and I was 19, it would have been quite the scandal, considering this wasn’t a Catholic church and all.

It would be months down the line before our fates should cross paths again. I was back in England having tea with the Queen (because everyone in England loves tea and is a personal friend of the Queen) and making questionable life choices, the only one missing was a tattoo on my chest with the words “No Ragrets” because frankly I have none “not even one letter” After all, they put me on the track back to you. We had gladly kept in touch since my departure. I’d be the creepy older guy complementing your Facebook pictures. Some may call it grooming but you were now 16, and you were the loyal best friend of my *cough* girlfriend. As fate would have it, those pre-mentioned life choices brought us together. Our mail to one another was no longer filtered through a third party, like war time letters from the front. The door was now open.

Nine whole months from the day we first met, there we were back in San Diego, defying the distance that had been stretched between us. You had ignored the pleads of many to avoid such a teen heartthrob. They said I was no good for you, that I would break your heart and that my soul was still going to burn in hell, just for good measure. I don’t know if it was still said with a smile on their face but whatever the case, you didn’t listen.

To say I was on my best behaviour back then would be a smart evaluation. If you were the Princess Fiona to my Shrek, then your family was the fire breathing dragon. To win them over too I would have to become nothing short of a loveable Ass. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I got that Ass shit down! For someone with all the poise and grace of a turd in a tuxedo, I took on the persona of a well presented English Gentleman. I summoned my inner bond and I tried with all my strength to be the future husband their daughter deserved, given my reputation that had been presented unfairly before them. It already felt like I was starting on the back foot.

All jokes aside, flying into LAX for the first time was a daunting experience. Your parents had kindly agreed to letting me stay in their home, the boyfriend of their 16 year old daughter whom they had never met and knew very little about. Being respectful and making a good first impression was paramount, luckily I had the best motivation. You. I knew there was something about you from the very first time I saw you from across the way. I just knew the volcano had erupted for a reason. Whether you believe in love at first sight or not, a force of nature had brought us together and now it  would take another one to tear us apart.

I had always been dubious of long distance relationships, yet in this case not even a fleeting doubt had crossed my mind, for the first time I knew what it was to be in love and to have that love reciprocated. With nerves akin to attending the first day of school, I found myself monologuing like I had been plucked straight from Pulp Fiction. Eventually after exhausting metaphors that included the next level of Space Invaders, I asked you to marry me. All my charm and Facebook grooming must have paid off because for some reason you said yes! I did well to sweep the young and impressionable 16 year old you, off of her feet, before she knew any better.

There was so much we had to learn about one another, yet at the time we were just caught up in the emotion of it all. We moved so fast we could have been mistaken for one of the Duggar’s from 19 Kids And Counting, minus the sibling molestations and just being plain bat shit crazy. With every young engagement we still had a lot of time before we figured each other out, even to this day we discover new things about one another on a daily basis. Like when I act like a fan girl over Ryan Gosling, or I play with the labels of any piece of clothing lying around. Although they could have been deal breakers all those years ago, today you find yourself stuck with me.

So here we are. Husband and wife, parents to a beautiful daughter and accepted into one another’s families. I now get to tell people I have a Brother-in-law in the US military (who I’m sure will keep me in line should I step out) and he gets to tell people I say Aluminium funny, so who’s the real winner there? Since the very beginning I was the Wreck-it-Ralph in your world of Fix-it-Felix Jr’s. I was the villain every day of my life, I made mistakes and would often act before I’d think. To this day I make inappropriate jokes at inappropriate times and my blasphemous ways have earned me a place in hell alongside the Dinosaurs.

Despite this you were able to see me in a way nobody else did. Whatever came our way you never lost faith in me, in us, or the couple we could be. You have always been able to see the person under the exterior that I present to so many people. You could see the person who would remember the first time her ever laid eyes on you. You could see the person who wouldn’t be scared of the distance between us and the dedication it would take. You could see the person who would put aside his fear of flying just to be near you. You could see that I was just a small town nerd, hoping he’d found his nerd in waiting.

You believed that just because I was the bad guy, didn’t mean I was a bad guy. After three years of marriage I look at our precious little girl. So full of love, life and happiness. We made her, a product of the force of nature that brought us together. Everyone loves her, even having me as a father and all. And it’s together you taught me a lesson that I carry with me everyday “If that little girl can like me… How bad can I be.”