This story could start in many, many places in time, so lets start in January 2007.
Our story is a classic tale of teenage rebellion and repression featuring some delightful dance choreography. When Conor’s family moved from big-city Chicago to a small Midwestern town, he was in for a real case of culture shock. Though he tried hard to fit in, the streetwise Conor couldn’t quite believe he was living in a place where rock music and dancing were illegal. However, there was one small pleasure: Anne Gill, a troubled but lovely blonde with a jealous boyfriend. There was a Bible-thumping minister, who was responsible for keeping the town dance-free. Oh no wait a second, that’s the Footloose plotline.
Myself and Duck were on our way to New Zealand to see a festival but bad weather left us stranded in London. Raging. We wanted to make the best of a bad situation and so called our friend Shane Casey in Bristol thinking we would head there. Shane happily told us that HE was in London with a load of other friends at Conor Feeney’s surprise birthday party! Shane said to come along, and mentioned some of the people who would be there, including one Annie Gill. "Hmmm", I thought. "Interesting", I also thought. Y’see I had heard loads about this Annie Gill person over the years from Feeney, Larry, and some other friends, but had never actually met her in person. I was sure of it. (I was sure of it too. And when Dan Stewart told me that Conor - well, he said Chuckles. He isn’t "Conor" to any of his friends, he’s CHUCKLES - would be coming, I too was excited to finally meet him). We had managed to attend Trinity College Dublin in the same year and hang out with all the same people but had never actually been introduced. Strange, eh? It was one of the more surprising things in our relationship...how could that happen in small Dublin, in such a close-knit group of friends?? (Fate was playing the long game, my friend.) Touché.
So we all assembled in a bar for a drink before dinner and Annie came up to me as we were leaving and introduced herself. (I’m a woman of action. I told him that it was nice to finally meet him and it was kind of like meeting a celebrity because I already knew so much about him.) Finally! A "formal" introduction! (I wasn’t that formal...) At this stage I had managed to spill a pint of Guinness down my front but that didn’t seem to matter (I didn’t notice until much later. And in fairness I was wearing a weird orange polka dot shirtdress OVER MY JEANS. A pint of Guinness would have been cuter.) - this was the infamous Charles Gill’s sister! We ended up chatting with each other over dinner and then later in the dump of a nightclub we all ended up in. Of course, I was busting out my finest dance moves and floor contortions at that stage, which seemed to work (not that I was surprised). We ended up kissing that night. Yay.(* *No exclamation point?! Re that kiss: he worked hard for it. It was earned. Michael Jackson may or may not have been involved in some way. And I also distinctly remember thinking while chatting to him: this is how much fun it should be!) True, point taken.
Leaving London the next day I distinctly remember feeling sad to go because we were having a great laugh together. (I bought him a coffee at Starbucks. We shared a ginger muffin. It tasted like cake.) I got Annie’s number (I’m easy) and so that started a fair few years of contact over phone, text, email, Skype, letters and carrier pigeon (check it out, surprisingly cheap - carrierpigeons.com). I decided to send her a Valentines gift a few weeks after we first met. Thankfully it arrived and didn’t kill her. So that was nice. Tigers can be...tricky. (There was no card - mystery Valentine’s gift! Every woman’s dream! - but...he spelled my name Annee, so yeah, I knew it was him.)
At this stage in our lives I was just settling into the second year of the festival I organised with Duck in Dublin, the Street Performance World Championship, (in case you haven’t heard of it.) and Annie was just finishing her Masters in London. She was about to travel to India and Australia. This was still early days so we decided to stay in touch and see how things panned out. We saw each other during a few short weekend trips to London/Dublin we were both making over the next few months. Something was definitely developing but neither of us really knew how to do it. (I was mostly focused on NOT getting involved with someone before moving home. I was trying to be a closed book. But Conor just kept on chasing after it.)
Interesting interlude: Japan: Our second (Or fourth) date was pretty exciting. I took Annie to Japan to a street performance festival that happens over there every November. Her initial reaction upon me asking was "No" but thanks to certain influences in her life (looking at you Sarah Kershaw) she eventually said yes! (I mean, that is a CRAZY invite. But of course I am thrilled that Sarah and my mother helped me to change my mind. Because it was exactly 7 years ago, this first week of November, that we officially became a couple. So celebrating our wedding this week is particularly special ;))
So after travelling, Annie moved back to New York, where she stayed for the next 3 years. We conducted a wonderful (not) (...well parts of it WERE really wonderful. I mean, remember when you tried to surprise me on my stoop in Harlem and you had to wait about 3 hours for me to come back because I didn’t know you were there?! Good. Times.) Oh yeah. Sad face. 3-year long distance relationship between Harlem, NYC and Dublin, IRL. (Basically the same place.) Man, I wish Aer Lingus had frequent flyer miles. Eventually Annie took the plunge and moved in 2010. Phew. (Because how much airplane food can one actually eat?)
So that’s the basic story folks. In reality, our story actually begins with this photo that only just surfaced this year, taken we think in January 2003 in Rialto in Dublin. Apparently we were at the same party that night (as was Larry Ryan, Annie’s jacket in that photo). (Not apparently. That is photographic evidence that we WERE at the same party. Even outside at the same time! SPOOOOKY.)
Some skills we realised in each other over the years:
Ability to dance our asses off at weddings. We work hard on that in our spare time. Also did you read the opening paragraph? And see the image below!
Ability to act asleep for toddlers in bed. The hilarity for them is endless.
Ability to become a child’s friend by biting them (oh no wait, that’s just Annie) AND she’s a flower girl now to boot. And she bit me first.
So that’s it in a nutshell! And after 7 years we are celebrating with all the people we love...awwwwwwww
Here are some pictures of Annie asleep on trains, buses etc...she LOVES when I take them ;)
And here are a load of random images of us...see if you can spot any themes :)