Friday, January 30, 2009

"i love you"

Back to the past…I’d moved home for the summer to work full time. My parents’ were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary that year, and I’d jumped at the chance to have a job in Port Alberni so that John and I could go ahead with plans for their party. I still had exams in April, which meant at least one sure chance of seeing David before summer really set in.

It was around April 22nd. I had plans to meet David at the UVic fountain, and warned him that I would probably be late as I was traveling with my mother and brother. And, I was late. They kindly agreed to disappear for the day, and I did not even introduce them to David that time. I was anxious to see him, especially because I was late and he’d been waiting for around an hour. I remember approaching the fountain in the bright sun, and seeing him sitting there wearing the maroon shirt that I loved, with his hair neatly brushed back and his legs stuck out, wearing shiny black shoes and reading a volume of Shakespeare. And he jumped up and gave me a hug and we met up with my friend Anne and talked with her for a bit before heading downtown to spend the day wandering around.

We ended up at the parliament buildings, laying on the grass and watching the clouds and talking and snuggling and enjoying the sun and salt air. And I remember turning over and, quite shyly, giving David five kisses. And he looked back at me, and smiled, and said “I love you”. And the rest of the day passed in a blur—I know we went for thai food, I know we ended up snuggling under a tree by a park until my mum came to pick me up, but everything centered around that moment. I was just so amazed that he would say that after less than a month of dating, and after only about 12 or so days of being in the same city while a couple. I said “I love you too”, and then spent the next month or so worrying about what that meant.

We managed to see each other about every 2-3 weeks that summer, and the times we were not together we wrote letters back and forth and talked on MSN or email. We didn’t call each other once. I have many fond memories—spending the nights star gazing in Port Alberni, where you can actually see the sky; listening to Delerium in my room; spending days in Victoria going to various festivals and exploring the downtown; the day we spent at Rathtrevor with my family, having a bbq and enjoying the beach. I know that one of David’s favorite memories is when Tara and I drove out to Tofino where David, Nigel, and Jesse had hitchhiked, to visit them and spend the day. It was such a lovely surprise, and my cousin was so kind to do it. I have other memories as well, in particular lighting numerous candles at both Notre Dame and St Andrew’s at the feet of the Blessed Virgin, praying for help and guidance. I did not want to presuppose the end result of this relationship, but was caught up in so many conflicting emotions and various anxieties. Much as I hated being away from him all summer, I do not regret this time as it allowed us to get to know each other intellectually without any distractions. I believe my prayers were answered.

One event of that summer really stands out for me for making a solid foundation for our relationship. I’d managed to get some time off in May, including Mother’s Day. Tara was in town, and kindly offered to drive me to Nanaimo so that I could save money by catching the bus from there. We ended up being late and I missed the bus, so I was stuck in Nanaimo for an additional two hours, waiting and worrying because David was out with his family and I couldn’t get him on the phone to tell him I was going to be late. This was the day I was supposed to meet his family for the first time as well. I had gone to The Foundry to kill time and slammed back a gin and tonic.

I finally made it to Victoria, and remember stepping off the bus and literally into David’s arms. He was wearing this incredibly soft leather jacket, and he kissed me on the corner of the highway and it was just so surreal. I think we stopped to eat at Romeo’s, but I may be confused with another time. Either way, it was around 7pm and all I’d had to eat was Mother’s Day brunch and liquor, and possibly pita and hummous. We went to his place, where I met his family and we stayed up talking to them until midnight. Because I was late getting to Victoria I hadn’t had much time with David alone, and he had to work the next day and then we were going to Hannah’s birthday party. So he took me upstairs to his room, which I’d ousted him from for the two nights, and we ended up staying up all night talking, and at one point dancing. So, by the next day, I had had no sleep and little food. I went downtown and killed time, both alone and with friends, because David was at work.

The plan was that I would go to the thai restaurant with Hannah and friends and David would meet us there and the whole merry troop would go back to her place. I was slowly becoming more awake as the evening went on. We went to Hannah’s, where she poured me a glass of this very potent, very delicious, blackberry(?) wine that she had in the fridge. And we hung out there until I judged it was time to leave for purposes of busses.

But the bus was slow to show, and I am impatient. And as most of you know, I tripped on the sidewalk and my backpack flipped over my back and hit my head, driving my face into the cement and breaking my glasses. I happen to be blind without my glasses. I also happen to become clear-headed and free from all anxieties in a crisis. Hannah lived close to the place I rented, where my landlords had let me keep my things all summer and to which I had a key. I knew that in my possessions I had a glue gun, and as my frames were plastic I could probably glue them back together. So I promptly took off for “home”, with David attempting to keep up with me. At one point he made me stop at the 7-11 where my appearance elicited cries of shock and dismay from the customers, and David reassured them that he had not hit me (I found this incredibly amusing, he did not). We got some napkins and attempted to clean up my face, as I was bleeding and covered in gravel, but I don’t think we were that successful. To this day I feel bad for my landlords, who happened to be home and who weren’t expecting me, and who certainly weren’t expecting me to show up bleeding on their doorstep. They tried to get me to stay the night, but I was determined that I wanted to go back to David’s. So I glued my glasses together and they kindly gave us a ride back.

When we got in Julia promptly took over and whisked me upstairs to patch me up. I was so grateful to finally be in the hands of someone who wasn’t fretting over me but was able to just get bandages and antiseptic and clean me up and leave it at that. I then went into David’s room, but now that I had been taken care of the lack of sleep and food of the last couple of days caught up with me. David was sitting on his bed, waiting to say goodnight to me, and I just remember being worried that I had a concussion and how he offered to sit up with me for a while just to make sure. And I remember him holding me in his arms and the immense feeling of safety and security and trust that went with that. And I knew, then, that this was someone I could trust to take care of me, someone I could feel safe with. And, Tara, I actually think that was the first time I cried in front of David, because I was in pain and half-blind and exhausted…and it was just so secure and I remember feeling that, as long as he was there, I did not need to worry.
We’ve been together for almost five years, and I think I’ve probably devoted more to the first year of our knowing each other than I will to 4.5 years of our relationship. It is not that the rest of this time has been unimportant, but just that that first year was the beginning of many [very wonderful] changes in my life and my perception of the world, my future plans…life in general. It wasn’t all David, of course, and there are many things left out of this story because it is the story of us, not me. But what that year really gave me was the courage to take risks, and to do things that I would not have done previously because they didn’t fit with certain Christian notions of the world trendy in various circles I had contact with, or which had been prevalent when I was a teenager. It was also the beginning, or speeding up, of me slowly breaking down many of the emotional barriers I’d put up—maybe this is just counseling jargon, but it expresses what I mean. In order to love someone, I had to let myself begin to feel in a positive way and I had to allow myself to trust another human being (which is so hard)…

And on that note, I have to wake up in six hours to go to a conference. So, I end here for the night.

This is was my attempt at taking a picture of myself for David. I gave him the second one, in which I'm looking at the camera, but I liked the way my hair fell in this one! So, sometime in the summer of 2004.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

engagement plans and wedding thoughts

I cannot seem to calm down tonight—too much pent up energy and too much time spent reading articles! So, I am catching up on internetting and wedding things.

David and I are going ring shopping on Friday. I hope we are successful this time. We’re going to the Toronto jewelry exchange, and if we can’t find anything there we will broaden our search. I’m really hoping we find a ring on Friday though, particularly one we can afford.

I think we’re going to get our engagement photos done at a portrait studio, instead of hiring a photographer and going outside somewhere. Based on some of the ones I’ve priced in the GTA, I don’t think we easily, or prudently, afford one. Which led to the question/solution of forcing a friend to do it. Which is scarcely different from our annual Christmas photo. David suggested a portrait studio when I was lamenting this, and I had been thinking the same—particularly because I liked the “old fashionedness” of it. We are fairly antiquated in our mores anyway, and I have fond memories of all the old family portraits hanging at home or tucked in the giant heavy portrait album. So, that is most likely the route to go, and I’m looking forward to doing pricing in earnest and getting them done. My parents want to put the announcement in the local paper!

I have contacted all my bridesmaids and my maid of honour and everyone (Madeleine, Sarah, Julia, and Tara) has agreed. I know it is a bit early, especially since we don’t have a date set yet, but I didn’t see much point in waiting. And my Madeleine is already helping me with planning and tips which is great. With my family so far away it is really nice to have a good friend in town to be excited about this with me, and brainstorm with, etc.

I’ve had a lot of fun asking people to be in my bridal party, but my favorite moment was asking Madeleine to be my Maid of Honour. We were sitting on my couch, half watching TV, quite full from a meal of burritos and beer, when we started discussing wedding things and she wanted to know who was in my bridal party. So I asked her to be my maid of honour, and she did this incredibly cute laugh-cry thing, and then I started crying, it is was this totally sappy and girly moment of joy and total embarrassment and more joy. But what makes it so fun for me is that David was sitting on the other end of the couch and was oblivious to everything. Madeleine and I were sitting there, hugging and laughing and crying, and he was passively drinking beer and watching The Office. Classic.

I am still trying to figure out what kind of wedding/reception I want, mood-wise. I need to sit down with David and discuss it with him. Everyone keeps telling me that I’m the bride and it’s my day, but that’s not really true. It’s my and David’s day, and it’s our families’ day. And although I won’t pretend that I can make everyone happy, I want to find something that expresses who we are, not just who I am.

On that note, I should try to wind down and go to bed.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cicero brought us together

David wants me to point out that he has good taste in books and wives.


I returned to Victoria after Christmas break, ready for a new semester of school. First stop was the bookstore to pick up my textbooks. Somehow, in the crowded store, I noticed a familiar long-haired man. I don’t remember who smiled first, but somehow I made my way over to him, fighting through the crowd, to ask the ever important question—“are you in Latin this semester?” His answer, affirmative, and, according to him, I could not stop smiling. I think we made polite conversation, I think he told me that he was deathly sick during exam period, but all I remember is the way my heart stopped when I saw him in the crowd of people and the way he smiled at me. I went home elated and looking forward to the first Latin class of the semester.

Latin began with a vengeance. Working through the horrible book Res Publica Conquassata, stressed every class over translations of Cicero and Caesar that we could not make sense of, our little Latin class of five or so banded together in various distractions to lighten the mood. Lauren must take much of the credit here, at least for beginning the fun—going off to rant after class, bringing baked goods on test days, various hijinks inspired by some conversation or another (including the foray of the wind-up fire-spitting nun)… And in this chummy mood, David got some spark of inspiration and began his quest of getting my full attention in our half hour together before class. We were still the only two who showed up at 9am, and he sought to raise my spirits by drawing fantastic Latin-inspired cartoons on the chalkboard each morning. Lentulus and Lepidus begging for mercy. Cicero being tortured in various ways, men with spock ears and strange curls simply because “the text never says they don’t have them”.

David tells me that he really only came to class early to be with me, and these chalkboard drawings and other antics were his way of flirting with me. But I, perpetually oblivious, thought he was simply being friendly. He had won me over, however, and I certainly wanted to get to know him better. Somehow I came up with an excuse to get his email address, and added him to my MSN, figuring we could continue our conversations that way. Raised in an evangelical church during the height of such books as I Kissed Dating Goodbye, I entertained some notion of not wanting to develop a crush on every guy I met, so I was quite adamant with myself that I did not like David like that…but, I also decided that should someone like him ask me out that would be ok too.

MSN conversations were the first clue that he wanted to be more than friends. Every day, as soon as he got home from school, he would sign on and message me. We’d chat while doing homework—we once had an hour long conversation in Latin (which I still have). Then, one fateful day, I sent him a complaint with a typo: I have anderlust. To which he replied: lucky Ander. Various hug and heart emoticons later, I was frantically messaging my friend Hannah to get her interpretation of all this—just playing around on the computer, or possible flirtation? We decided on definite flirtation, so now I had to figure out how to let him know I was interested. My brain latched on a scheme. David worked for a Catholic thrift store as their book-pricing guy. I, a Catholic, wanted a Bible with the deuterocannonicals but was too poor to buy a new one. So I would go to St Vinnie’s on a Saturday, when David was working, and get him to find a Bible for me. And somehow, something would happen.

The day approached. March 27th, toward the end of term. If something didn’t happen in the next two weeks it probably wouldn’t happen at all. I made it to St Vinnie’s and was suddenly shy, so I just stood and browsed through racks of clothing waiting for him to notice me. And he did, and we talked for a bit and then he asked me out for coffee. But I had an essay to write that night, so I told him I didn’t have the time for coffee, but all my friends were unavailable for dinner so maybe…? He asked me to dinner, I ran off elated to wait until 5pm. He got off work early, because Dominique had let him go since “that cute girl is waiting for you”. So we went for Vietnamese food and he paid and I said I’d get it next time but still wasn’t quite sure if this counted as a date since a) I had demanded it and b) my guy-friends would pay for me sometimes. He had a party to go to, and I had an essay to write, and we were leisurely strolling up Douglas to the bus stop when I saw my bus. I turned to him, said “Oh shit I gotta go! Thanks for dinner!” and ran. I made it home where I had a very hard time concentrating on my Chaucer paper, replaying the day’s events in my head.

He still hadn’t come right out and asked me to date him, or be his girlfriend. And I, not entirely certain what kind of guy he was, thought he might just be looking for some amusement rather than a relationship. The week began. Tuesday, I saw David in class but he didn’t seem much different from usual. Wednesday, after class, Lauren and I went to the University Centre to hang out. David came along. We chatted. Much as I love Lauren, this time I was waiting for her to leave. 11:30 came around, time for the next round of classes. Lauren left. I skipped my History in Art class to hang out with David. I remember feeling ill from cramps and laying down on the floor, resting my head on my arms. And then he lay down beside me and complained that it wasn’t fair for me to have two arms to rest my head on, and he stole my arm and lay his head on it and we stayed like that, talking for a couple of hours, until he had to go to Greek.

We planned that he would come over the next day to study for the Latin final. I would make dinner. He came over, and we studied for a bit, which eventually ended in a tickle war… and then I let him steal my arm again, and we lay on my rough blue rug on the hardwood floor and talked until he had to catch his bus. I walked him down to the bus stop, and standing in the cool spring night he tried to kiss me, twice, and both times I accidentally moved my head and all he got was my cheek. And then the bus came, and he left, and I went home feeling rather dizzy.

Friday. Latin quiz day. We had plans to wear togas, so I brought one of my sheets for David and wrapped him up in it and felt awkward and nice at the same time. I had plans for the day with friends, but he told me that if I could spare the time he’d be at the fountain with his friend Chris and I should come say hi. So I did. And when I left he stood to give me a hug and I ran off and Melanie teased me about it all the way downtown.

Saturday. Us Latinists decided to have an end-of-term Latin party (with copious amounts of cheese...). We ate dinner. We drank wine. We got caught up playing scattagories and David missed his bus (not that I was hoping that would happen) and was forced to spend the night. Lest this detail seem too sordid, n.b.; I had bunk beds at the time. I barely slept all night, for although I was never one to be shy about co-ed sleeping arrangements this was different. David woke me up in the morning when he gracelessly thundered down from the top bunk and hit the floor, so I got up and we decided to go to Palm Sunday mass at St Andrew’s Cathedral together. I remember that the bus driver was wearing bright pink socks. After Mass, I walked him to the bus stop. And there, on Douglas street, he kissed me. My first kiss, ever. And then he left on his bus. And I went home, a mix of happy and sad, because yes, he kissed me, but I was leaving the next day for Port Alberni and didn’t know when I’d see him again.

I went out with friends from Holy Cross for dinner. I came back home and crawled onto the top bunk, and curled up on his pillow, and cried, and then I called my mum who remarked, with surprise, that I sounded sad. And I replied that I was, because I’d just said goodbye to my boyfriend. And, as she knew nothing of these events, she expressed much surprise. The next day, after an exam and some packing and some time with friends, I got into the van and left for home, wondering all the while if the guy I’d been dating for 9 days would wait the 5 months until I came back.
Me on the UVic Fountain--a month or so before we started dating

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Before I knew I liked him...

In most cases, one does not get engaged without having a relationship first. As I write this, David and I have been engaged for 23 days. We’ve been dating for 4 years, 9 months, and c27 days. We’ve known each other for seven months longer than that. How did it all come about?

In September, 2003, I woke up in my little blue room on Feltham Road in Victoria and staggered to my wardrobe. It was time to get ready for Latin 201: Advanced Latin Grammar. Being somewhat organized, and being a fan of the command “know thyself”, I knew that I wanted to (someday!) date an intelligent man with whom I could speak Latin and who, preferably, had long dark hair and liked the Middle Ages. And was Christian. And enjoyed music by groups like Delerium & Mediaeval Baebes. I thought to myself that if there was any chance of me meeting someone like that this year, it would be in either Medieval Studies 301/302 or in Latin. Therefore the plan, at least until I had scoped out available men in the classes, was to doll myself up a bit before hand. Lipstick and brushed hair it was.

I went to Latin, rather nervous. I had trouble enough mastering basic Latin grammar—I did not think advanced Latin grammar and I would get along at all. As I walked to the classroom, I was hoping that some of my friends and acquaintances from the previous year would be in Latin to share the pain and misery. When I got to the door, I noticed a tall man, wearing a bright tropicalesque shirt and sandals, with curly dark hair pulled back in a ponytail. I thought, “cute” and then avoided making eye contact lest my thoughts be too visible. By some stroke of fate we ended up sitting near each other at the table, with only a dark haired pixiesh looking girl between us. And thus began Latin grammar.

My quest to get a Latin grade above 85% that semester sent me to class early in order to review that day’s homework. David, taking the bus in from Langford, also arrived early and also came to class at that time—allegedly to do homework (but apparently just to see me). So, during first semester, we got to know each other over the Latin subjunctive, gerund, supine, and our favorite, passive periphrastic. I did not realize it then, but you know a guy likes you when he makes jokes about the passive periphrastic.

During this time, David was the unfortunate recipient of a violent attack. He quite clearly remembers the day in October where I came to class and happily asked him how his weekend was, not noticing the bruises all over his face. In my defense, I was still avoiding eye contact because I still found him cute. I do remember being quite upset that he had been injured, upset enough that he got mention in my Live Journal entry for that day.

Over the course of the semester I learned some things about David—he really, really liked music. He had a lot of records, mostly of groups I hadn’t heard of. He knew a lot of languages. He worked at a charity thrift store. He was Catholic, but didn’t hang out with my crowd of Catholics (fishy…). He liked to spend his weekends drinking beer with his friends. He had some pretty crazy adventures. In short, he was incredibly different from all the Catholic/Christian guys I knew. He never told me he didn’t have a girlfriend, and I just assumed he did (because look at him!). I noticed that he forgot his homework without fail at least once a week, yet still managed to translate better than almost anyone in the class (no offense).

Exam period came. Because our class was so small, we’d gotten to know each other rather well and I was really looking forward to the exam and the drinks planned for after. Friends!!! (I was rather lonely my first year at UVic but second year was really looking up). I spent the pre-exam time anxiously waiting for Mr Porter (Dr Rowe had us all calling each other by our last names) to show up, and hopefully sit by me, and mostly likely go for drinks after so I could hang out with him. At this point I was just hoping he’d be my friend. I kept waiting. And waiting. And he never came to the exam. And all I could think is that for some reason he’d thrown in the towel and given up on Latin, or school, or who knows what because why else do you miss a final exam? And if you’re quitting, why do you not bother to say goodbye to your friend, who doesn’t even have your email address?

In short, I was sad and a little hurt and full of scathing mockery towards myself for thinking I was even close to being the friend of this really cool guy, who had a life so much more awesome of mine. So, with a sigh, I went home for Christmas to forget I ever had an almost-friend called Porter.
Me, sometime in 2003. Note the angst.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A New Beginning

It's 2:30 am and if I were smart I'd be in bed. Instead, I'm up creating a wedding blog. Why? First, because I think some people are interested who won't be able to access my thoughts any other way. Second, so that I have some place to organize my thoughts (and plans!) without cluttering up my other journals. Third, because it will be so lovely to look back on this.

I'll post the engagement story (and subsequent photos) another day. To end this post I simply want to explain the title I chose for this blog.

Ego Gaia

It's Latin for "I am Gaia" and it is taken from the ancient Roman wedding vows: Ubi Gaius, ego Gaia, or "Wherever Gaius is, I am Gaia". It always reminds me of Ruth, saying "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God." In these words I see my own relationship reflected back. As we've slowly made our way from Victoria, to Edmonton, to Toronto--both of us leaving our families and many friends farther and farther behind and walking into the future together. And, so important to me, walking together and united in a shared faith. Thus, both journeying in this life together, but also making a spiritual journey together.

What makes me so excited about the marriage ceremony is becoming united sacramentally before God, and having this 3 unit relationship--David, myself, and God. The knowledge that we meet the present and future together, supported and sustained by both divine love and our love for each other.

Wherever you are, there I am also.