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


  1. I had completely forgotten about that party! Of course, not about the togas. :-) I have pics of me in my toga from the year before during Ides. We were a fun bunch.

  2. Awwww. So sweet Leanna. Even though I was there I'm loving reading this tale now. In some ways it seems like it was so long ago, and in others it feels like just yesterday. I'm so glad you are writing this all down. It's so great to have a record of a love like yours and Davids. Reading it makes me all happy and melty inside.

    PS - sorry I'm a bit late. I forgot to bookmark this so I haven't been checking it. It's all fixed now, so I will try to check it daily! :)