Saturday, March 28, 2009

for the asking

With all the good things that have happened to us at the end of this week there is so much to say. And I feel that with our future suddenly shining bright and unknown in a good way, with us finally coming out of this gloomy pit of uncertainty, it seems nice to present this not as one of the few bright spots in the year, but as the first of a really grand adventure. So: The Proposal.
The bus ride down island was incredibly relaxing. I was on just the right level of sleep deprivation to enjoy listening to music and meditating. As always, I find that the long drive through the mountains and by the ocean restores me. I need the trees and the water to feel whole. During the trip I was caught up remembering all the other trips I’d taken over the years to see David. It was just a lovely, peaceful, reminiscent ride.

I arrived in Langford, where David and his dad met me. I was a little disappointed, because I’d hoped that David and I could walk home from the bus stop like we used to, but with the amount of snowfall this was impossible. I’d hoped that if we walked home, and if he’d found a ring, he’d propose. Or, barring that, we’d at least get to spend some time together alone before all the visiting. But, it was not to be. We went back to his place, and then out again for a big family lunch. At lunch we discussed our plans for the evening, and for a while it looked as if David and I might bus downtown together and wander around the waterfront. I again hoped that, if he had a ring, he would perhaps propose downtown at one of our old haunts. Again, this was not to be. To spend more time with his sister Julia, we accepted a ride from her downtown but this did not leave us with any time for wandering around.

We were spending New Years with our friend Steve. It ended up being a quiet party at his place, with just four of us drinking and playing the board-game Zombies. By this point in the evening I realized that my engagement was not going to happen. The strange thing was that I wasn’t disappointed. It was enough to just be in the company of old friends, playing a game and relaxing. I was content. Closer to midnight we wandered downtown to ring in the new year with a crowd. David procured a jaunty New Years hat for me, and we joined the celebrations. Then it was time to run to catch the last bus out to Langford.

I don’t remember much of the bus ride. I was a little tipsy… the ride was bumpy. David was talking to me about his vacation (this was the first we’d been alone all day). He then mentioned that he’d tried to find a ring for me, but there was nothing that he liked in the stores he’d gone to, and everything would’ve had to be sent away for sizing. In short, he had no ring for me. I was a little disappointed, because there is always lingering hope, but that was that. No engagement for me, but the trip was still fun.

When we got back to Langford it was snowing. We stopped at Tim Horton’s for coffee and donuts to sober up, and then had a lovely walk back to his parents’ in the snow. It was absolutely beautiful outside, and serenely quiet. When we got in we spent some time chatting with his dad, but then I excused myself to go upstairs. David stayed downstairs talking, so I sat down on his bed and pulled out my book and started to read. I admit I was impatient, waiting for him to finish his conversation so he could come talk to ME, whom he hadn’t seen in 4 weeks, and eventually I heard him moving around. He came up the stairs, then turned and went back down. I thought nothing of it. He came back up the stairs and came into the room and stood in the doorway and asked me to sit up. I was not quite sure what was going on in his mind. I thought he was either going to tease me, or tell me something negatively serious.

As I sat up, he dropped to one knee and pulled a ring out of his pocket. I don’t remember the exact words of his proposal, because I was in too much shock. After years of teasing him about how he’d never manage to surprise me with a proposal, because I was always expecting one, he’d managed to pull it off. In the one place I’d never expect a proposal, namely his old room, but yet in a place full of memories from our years of dating in Victoria. The room where, laying in bed with my face all smashed up, I realized how well he would take care of me. The room where we managed to snatch a few precious moments alone together when he came back from Spain. The room where we’d watched countless movies, listened to countless records, and spent countless hours just being together.

I accepted his proposal. I think I said “yes” and “is this for real” about fifty times. He had not found a ring, so he proposed with my little brass & enamel ring that I’d lent him for sizing, but promised that we shop together when we got back home. And after that I called my parents. My dad knew as soon as the phone rang, I think, because he demanded that I tell him “my news” before he’d pass the phone on. After the family-call, we stayed up most of the night talking. I slept very little. I spent the next day crying with joy and making phone calls and telling people in person.

The most fun we had was telling David’s family. Because we could tell them in person, we just slipped it into conversation. I made sure to keep my ring finger hidden. It was a lot of fun, particularly because it didn’t quite dawn on people right away. The most special moment of telling, however, was when I told my Grandma. I hadn’t planned to tell her that day, but I had called my mum to hash out details of picking me up from the bus that day and she told me she was at Grandma’s, because Grandma wasn’t feeling well. Then she suggested I tell her my news, which I did, and as soon as the words were out of my mouth I heard my Grandma burst into tears on the other end of the line, while telling me between them just how much she loved me and was happy for me. It is one of the most special moments in my life.

The day ended with an impromptu engagement celebration with David’s family. We had champagne, appetizers, and a “Jamaican engagement traditional dish” (according to Jen) of rice, rum, and shrimp. I then had to head off to the bus and back to Port. I spent the bus ride back in a happy daze of tears and smiles. The rest of vacation passed--mum began making wedding plans--and then it was back to Toronto.

So here we are. I am engaged to the love of my life. I’m sitting in a low-ceilinged apartment in Toronto, and we’re finishing one of the most stressful years of our lives together thus far. I think we’re stronger because of it, but it’s not always easy. School-stress, on top of our little house which causes physical discomfort for David and was having a very negative impact on my seasonal depression during the winter, on top of the recent changes to our plans…but we are surviving and having fun, and the time for a new chapter is almost here.

My New Year's Hat

The morning after. I think this is the happiest we've ever appeared in a photo. Taken by Sarah after we told her.

Champagne and celebrations! Again, photo by Sarah.

Me with my handsome fiance and two beautiful sisters

Thursday, March 26, 2009

absolutely amazing

so, today was rather dull. go to school and cram too much work into too little time. eat an apple. go to Latin. go to class which always makes me feel kind of low these days. eat some grapes. come home, annoyed because our toilet is broken and difficult to flush, and i have too much work to do for tomorrow...

and when i show up, all the windows to our place are open and there is music blasting from out of the house. and david's not visible from the outside. So I come in and he rushes up to me to tell me...

He got a full scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge... as in, IN ENGLAND. As in, tuition and living expenses covered.

We are so excited--you cannot believe it. Absolutely floored.

People are asking what this means for us. Considering I found out about thirty minutes ago, I'm not too sure. It's something we will definitely have to sit down and think out. I have ideas for the immediate future, and I'm not too sure about after that. But when things like this happen I just see how everything falls into place.

God is so good. And I am so excited!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

up to the day...

It looks as if I’m almost at the end of our history, for now…
To say that starting life in Toronto has been easy would be a lie. Some days here are really good, and some are really bad, and sometimes we exist in between and sometimes it is really, really hard to keep going. The point of saying that is that I feel we’ve become stronger as a couple since being here. So many things have been much less than ideal, and yet we have become so much better because of it.

We did not really have a break between arriving and the start of school. I think we arrived on the first, and we had an exam on the third. Our belongings were still not here, so we were living out of the contents of 6 backpacks/suitcases. Fortunately the apartment was semi-furnished (bed, table & chairs) and there were pots and pans and silverware in the kitchen, so we could at least cook. We ate a lot of salad and fried meat for the first couple of weeks. I have fond memories of the two of us sitting on the living room floor, watching the BBC “Anne of Green Gables” on David’s laptop for relaxation in the evening. We didn’t have internet access or anything (it took almost a month to get internet) so we spent our evenings, after homework, watching shows and reading.

Meanwhile, we set about seeing if we could improve our living situation. Unfortunately, the poorly worded language of our lease which suggested we could move out within 60 days was not honoured by the Tenant’s Board. So we contacted our Landlord, who said that we could move IF we found someone to rent the place. David and I talked it over. It would mean that we had to a) find a place for ourselves and b) find a renter for this place that c) had to coincide so that we wouldn’t be stuck paying rent on two places, something we definitely could not afford. On top of that, it would mean doing extra work for this and then moving in the middle of a very busy semester. And so David, for the sake of my peace of mind and first semester at grad school, sacrificed his physical comfort and ease so that more stress would not be added, especially for me. That is true love.

Beyond that immense sacrifice when we first moved here, there is little more to say. Our stuff eventually arrived. For those of you looking for more disasters--three of our boxes were water damaged due to something leaking from the next compartment over. I was out when our stuff arrived so David had to deal with all the insurance-claim information on his own. He did well. Fortunately nothing irreplaceable was wrecked. My mum came for a visit in late September, to help us get settled in (Ikea trip) and just to visit. It was a very nice visit, although we didn’t sleep much! The three of us went to Niagara Falls one day and that was very lovely.

Aside from some fun in September, life has mostly consisted of school. The program here is very intense, and we were both far busier than we’d thought we’d be. With both of us in school and working long hours and spending our free ones worrying over school and stressing, it has not been easy. Although we spend much of the day in each other’s company, it is often just doing work. We started working on this toward the end of the semester, purposefully spending more time together alone. It’s been nice, and things have been much better this semester.

As December approached, we both made plans to go home for most of the month. This meant that we would be apart for most of it. I noticed that things were incredibly different from other times we’d gone away--I think we talked on the phone for at least an hour a day this time (much longer than before). I had spent two days in Victoria, but after I left up island the weather turned bad and David was unable to come visit me. So we spent YET ANOTHER Christmas apart, which we are used to, but unfortunately this year I couldn’t even be with him on his birthday.

At home, meanwhile, the usual discussions about when I thought I’d get married would take place. I think by this time everyone was getting used to the idea that it probably wouldn’t be any time soon. It was fairly obvious that this couple would be taking its time. I had one bit of news, however, which was that before we left on vacation David had taken one of my rings “just in case” he found something that needed sizing. But I was trying to not put much hope this.

To make up for missing his birthday, Christmas, and him in general, I had decided to go down to Victoria for New years. The night before I left I was feeling very lonely. I had gone to bed and was laying in the dark with my cat for company, enjoying the cold air and the quiet of the country, and trying to remind myself of my own strength in the face of loneliness and challenges. I was not particularly looking forward to my trip the next day, for although I wanted to see David I didn’t want to lose any time with my family. But that was that. Fortunately I was keen enough to go that I’d set a backup alarm, because our power went out (yet again!) that night and I had an early bus to catch and hadn’t fallen asleep until 3 or 4. By 8am I was on a bus heading south, and somehow in the night healing had come to my loneliness because I was feeling adventuresome again and looking forward to seeing my boy…

Posing outside St Michael's Cathedral for our Christmas Photo

Take Two?

At the CMS Christmas Party. End of Term!!!

Back in Victoria

Sunday, March 15, 2009

toward Toronto

Back to the past.
David and I began applying for schools. We both applied to Cambridge and to the University of Toronto, but other than that our choices were different and often in different countries. Applying for an MA is less work than applying for a PhD, and one hears back much faster. By the early months of 2008, I’d already been accepted to most of the schools I’d applied to. The only ones I hadn’t heard from were the ones I’d applied to with David. I couldn’t afford to go to school in the UK, and I doubted I’d win a huge scholarship, but it was still an option at the time. Our fears were laid to rest when we both got accepted to the University of Toronto. Barring Cambridge (David) or Oxford (me) showering us with huge scholarships, we knew we’d be going together come September.

Meanwhile the smaller things that make up life went on. David was preparing a conference paper and working on his thesis. I had received a huge promotion at work and was trying to save money for our move/the upcoming year. Although we were both stressed with our work for various reasons, I at least wasn’t overwhelmed. Winter looked like it was going to end early and we were looking forward to the future. On top of all this, my mum was taking our whole family on vacation to California in May. David and I were both really touched by her generosity of taking him as part of the family and we spent many weeks counting down ‘til the trip.

Our trip to California was awesome. My parents love how easily David fits into our family and how well he and John get along. And I love having everyone together. It was such a great trip for so many reasons, and its something the five of us still talk about when we get together. A trip with five people isn’t always easy, but we managed to pull it off and I know everyone had fun and got to do what they loved. I know that David’s particular “moment to shine” was when he talked us into staying late at Disneyland one night to watch the Fantasmic. No one had seemed that keen at the idea, but he talked us into it and we loved it. As fun as the rides and sights were, the best part was just being together and knowing that the five of us worked as a family. It was encouraging.

All good times must come to an end, however, and we returned to Edmonton and buckets of stress. David had about a month in which to write his thesis, and four months to get it completely finished in. I was back in my tense office, and this was coupled with the details of planning a move across country. We both complained that it didn’t feel like summer, for the weather was inclement and we weren’t relaxing like we should. Looking back I know that we did a lot of fun stuff--going out for drinks and desserts or appies at our favourite restaurants, evening browsing in Chapters (to harass Sarah) or Wee Book Inn, numerous walks, and a little bit of tourist sightseeing, but at the time it didn’t feel like it. We did manage to see family before we left, at least. My aunt & uncle came up for my Great Aunt’s 80th birthday, and that turned into a giant family reunion at her house. Our friend Madeleine came for a few days as well, in a lovely visit that coincided with when David’s parents were also in town visiting. It was not an empty summer, just stressful one with a few bright spots.

August arrived. We’d booked a moving company and we’d found a place to live. I had three weeks of work left. I was frantically trying to pack our household and trying to not be overly annoyed that David was flying home for a week to see family in the middle of a very busy time. It was a very necessary trip, but the timing was not great. Nevertheless I think I was more productive with the house empty, and I know he had a good time back home. Living so far away from home we both take every chance we can to get home and see family, so one needs to make allowances for it not always being most convenient. When David came back we spent a couple of tense weeks finishing packing and getting his MA from Alberta completed. The amount we spent on cab rides between the university and our house does not need mention, but it was a very frantic time. We barely slept the week before we left, staying up late either visiting people or packing or both.

The worst day was, of course, the last day. I had gone to visit my friend Lydia the night before, and David had said nothing about the time so we stayed out at her place until 7am. We were leaving town that day, and we had last minute errands to run, an apartment to finish cleaning, and our stuff to finish packing for the first couple of weeks before the movers brought everything. I was hung over and exhausted and basically unable to function. I think this worked out well, because I tend to be the controlling and organized one. As I was reduced to a heap of jelly, David easily stepped in and had everything organized and done for us to leave. I didn’t need to worry about a thing, even with all the little things that went wrong (like all the stuff we didn’t have room to pack and had to give away/throw out). It was a wonderful lesson for me to see that he was just as capable, if not more so, of stepping in and getting a job done well even with difficulties. Although I hope our next move will be better (please tell me each one gets easier), I was really encouraged by how well we could work as a team, both picking up where the other left off.

We spent our last few ours in Edmonton with his sister. Then followed tearful goodbyes and a long cab ride to the bus station. Because we were poor and hopeful, we hoped that we would survive the 56 hour bus ride to Toronto, which was a lot cheaper than the plane. We did survive, but barely. I don’t think either of us slept much for the last bit of the trip, and we arrived in Toronto exhausted and nervous. Madeleine met us at the bus station and kindly took us for breakfast at a Tim Horton’s (the only place open that early), and then the three of us cabbed from downtown to our new place. I was bouncing between hopeful and fearful--all we knew of our place was three tiny pictures and various descriptions from talking on the phone. I was also anxious about living in a basement suite, wondering how the low ceilings and lack of light would affect my seasonal depression. The outside of the house looked cute, and we had hope.

Hope began to fail when our Landlady stalled taking us directly to our suite. Hope failed even more when I walked into our suite and realized that the heating PIPE that was supposed to be in our LIVING ROOM was a heating VENT that cut across the functional part of the kitchen, completely filled the hallway (3 or 4’ across), and then continued through the living room. David and I both realized that he could not stand upright under it. Our Landlady showed general unconcern (grr). After dumping our stuff and looking around shocked, David left for a walk for some fresh air/thinking, and a collapsed on the floor in tears and called home. Life in Toronto was not off to a brilliant start.

On a boat at LegoLand

Walking to Fort Edmonton Park. After David cut off his long hippy hair.

Dressed up for his last conference at the U of A.

At a restaurant with Sarah & Tim after a trip to see The Holy Grail on the big screen.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

not quite wedding, but sort of

I wrote a comment elsewhere today about how God will turn the bad things in our lives into good, and about how I believe in keeping faith in this. As I wrote that I knew very well that I may be forced in a matter of hours to practice what I preach, and so I am.

In the strictest sense, this is not wedding-related. But in that it affects my life it is, our life, and ten million little details, it is. Today I found out that my application for doctoral studies had been rejected, or in more positive terms, "not accepted".

I am torn between both an emotional meltdown and a calm peace. I change between one or the other. Worse things than this have happened to me and I have survived. And between my doubts throughout the years that this was the path I should pursue, and the sense of peace I have under it all, I cannot help but believe it will be for the best.

I don't expect the next few months will be easy, although I am trying to stay positive. It is hard, even in my relative relief that I don't have to feel obligated to undertake a PhD, not to feel sad about it when friends and rivals of mine have already been accepted. Just as it is hard to put in long hours finishing this degree when I know that although "MA" may signify as useful in my future career, my knowledge of medieval monasticism, pilgrimage, and textual editing probably will not. I don't believe in burning my bridges, nor do I believe in giving up, but I don't pretend it's going to be easy to push myself for these last six weeks.

I don't know what my future will hold. I think that being outside of academia plays better with my hopes of a largeish family and domestic goddess skills. I may very well go back to school in a few years, but I don't think it will be for an academic course. I am thinking about counseling or social work, but realize that much of this may be that 1) I enjoy helping/teaching people and 2) when one doesn't know what to do with one's life it is typical to first revert to the careers of one's parents.

As for the wedding...
If I can get a good job off the start, it may allow us to get married sooner or more expensively. Or it may push the date until I can get enough vacation time or leave to go get married. We'll see. I'm not really sure what I'm going to do. My immediate plan is to take the first two weeks of May off and go home. Mum & I are going to go wedding dress shopping, and throw a party for my dad's birthday, and I will hopefully have time to relax.

The idea of getting married is easier right now. I was anxious about having children while in a doctoral program, as it is not like one gets mat. leave for that. I am happy that I probably won't have to put off having children until I'm close to thirty. I've been teasing David for a few weeks already about how we'll probably have a baby in a couple of years, and now I think that may be more than just a cautionary jest.

I've been encouraged by many people--family, friends, professors--for many years to pursue an academic career. And in the face of my ideas of staying home and raising a family I have been told that it is not something I would be satisfied with. I won't know if those people are wrong or not until I try it. I don't even know if I'll have the chance to try it--it may not be financially in our cards. Only time will tell. But I do know that I take pleasure in my little home, in my cooking and occasional bouts of cleaning (which are usually far too few but at least very thorough when they happen), in creating an atmosphere of peace and safety for those whom I love. And I do know that I had feared for awhile that a life spent climbing the ivory tower would be at odds with this--it demands an amount of focus that conflicts with these smaller but (in my opinion) much more eternal tasks.

So, it is not easy but all is not lost. I feel that I can still hold my head up and go on--albeit with an icy disdain and hardened heart at times. Most of all, I am so thankful that we got engaged BEFORE this, so that I have this engagement, marriage, and future to focus on as an actual reality instead of a dream. I am not left with nothing.
God or one of his angels gave David a verse for me this evening:
"You shall have a song as in the night when a holy festival is kept; and gladness of heart, as when one sets out to the sound of the flute to go to the mountain of the Lord, to the Rock of Israel" (Is. 30:29).

Preceding it, "Thereofre the Lord waits to be gracious to you: therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice: blessed are all those who wait for him. Truly, O people in Zioin, inhabitants of Jersalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry: when he hears it, he will answer you. Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right or to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it." (Is. 30:18-21)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

on the prairies

My computer crashed over reading break so I haven’t been online as much as usual--hence the silence. Re: the computer, David was able to hook my hard drive up to our spare computer so that I could get all my files off of it, and I went out yesterday and bought a new laptop so all is well. And on that note of praising my boy’s technological genius in getting my files back, I shall return to our life in Edmonton.
If you read anything written by Mennonite immigrants, you learn that life on the prairies is hard (but God provides). And you think that it is hard because they didn’t know the language, had little money and few resources, and were living about 70 years earlier than you were when you moved to the prairies. And all that is true--I certainly don’t want to downplay the experiences of my family and others who immigrated to Canada, or pretend that our suffering was quite as much as theirs. That disclaimer said, life on the prairies IS hard. Or at least WAS hard. In fact our first four months there were probably the most stressful thing I’ve ever faced in my life at that point.

First off, we were essentially broke when we arrived. I had enough money to see me through for about 6 weeks, and David was in school and waiting for his money to come. And his money just would not come. He spent hours in lines and hours on the phone and hours doing whatever he could and one bureaucratic bungle after another meant his documents were always being not sent or not stamped or or or! To top it off, the U of A also sent one of his scholarships to Uvic by mistake…. Meanwhile I was out looking for work, and for a “real” job at that, and it was not quite as easy as I’d hoped. I’m not saying it took me long to find work, but just that it was hard to find something I wanted to do and that wanted me. A lot of places said I was overqualified, for example.

Then a wonderful day happened in which I had three interviews and got two job offers and a temp position. So I did the logical thing and took the higher paying job that was in an office, instead of the temp job or the cool retail position at Gordon Price Music (that was willing to pay me quite a bit but not quite as much as the office). And I discovered that being a receptionist was a) the most boring job in the world and b) really hard when you aren’t trained properly or given much work to do. And this isn’t the place to go into it here, but it turned out that they were just using me, and I got fired the day before my birthday. It was pretty awful, because my six-weeks of money were almost gone and now I had no job and no money and was out looking for work again.

I took my birthday off from looking for work and we had a lovely evening at the symphony (my present from David) and I got to open my lovely birthday presents from parents and parents-in-law (wedding china, early!)…and the next day I sat down to look for work and was called in for an interview at High Speed Printing about an hour after I emailed them, and was hired the same day about three hours after that. I mention this because God is good! David had promised that everything would be alright as well.

So I had a job, for less pay than I’d wanted but enough that I could pay my share of bills and my student loan payments etc. But the jerks that fired me also neglected to give me my pay for the two weeks of work I’d put in, so I had to take them to the Employment Board, and it took almost a month to get my owed pay. And David still had no money aside from the bit he made off his TA job at the university, an amount which did not even cover bills. And even once I had my missed pay and the pay from my new job, I did not have much more than $100 spare at the end of the month to help out, so it was worrisome. Finally, around the beginning of November, all his paperwork had gone through and we could relax. I remember spending four hours making a fancy lasagne on Remembrance Day. It was very snowy outside and we were getting ready to sit up to a warm, comforting meal. Then the phone rang and there was yet another snag on his money being released. It was easy to fix, but words cannot even describe the waves of discouragement that washed over us at that moment of thinking we were finally in the clear and then realizing there was another hill to climb.

One of the most touching things, for me, that happened during this time was the day David sent me to the salon. I’ve never been one to care over much about my hair, but one day in December it was just driving me nuts. It was long and super-dry from the prairie air, and I just couldn’t take it any more. So I was sitting around complaining about it and the next thing I knew David had opened his wallet and given me a bit of money with the instructions to put it toward a haircut at the salon that afternoon. There is something incredibly amazing to me about this man who, having hardly enough money to buy a case of beer or a new book, hands me some money so that I can go out and feel a little better about myself. So I went out, and it was perhaps the nicest time I’ve ever had getting my hair done. I went to Aveda and they pampered me with tea, a massage, an awesome haircut, and some makeup on my way out the door. It was just awesome, especially because of my means of going there.

By the time I went home that Christmas I was emotionally exhausted. I couldn’t even think of life in Edmonton without feeling ill. All was not black, however. Experiencing such stress together really brought us closer, and it strengthened our faith as well as when you cannot rely on yourself or your partner you are forced to rely on God in a way you don’t normally have to. I had seen more miracles happen for us in those four months than I ever had before--small things, sure, but ones nonetheless. We had survived something very difficult on our own, and it did not break us up, it just made us stronger. I’ve never regretted moving to Edmonton.

2007. We had some tense moments when David’s spring fund disbursement was to come, but that went through with no problem. I got a raise at work that spring as well, and it brought my salary up to what I’d wanted it to be. My job was very stressful and the office environment was often toxic, but I did well at my work and I really enjoyed proofreading. David was proving himself brilliant at school, and winning the acclaim of his professors.

Life began forming a calm and settled pattern. We only really socialized with David’s sister and her boyfriend, but that was fine by us (good company and all that). Most of our time we spent together, just enjoying each other’s company--exploring Edmonton or reading at home. I took up cooking with a vengeance, we kept up our opera subscriptions, and we began creating our own life. Life was peaceful. We began to speak more and more of the future, and getting married. We’d survived a nightmare and come out stronger, and in the aftermath we had a life of peace, not conflict. It boded well for a future together.

So the months passed. Summer in Edmonton is almost like paradise, at least compared to the eight months of winter. David was able to work and I had my raise so we had some money to play around with. Family members made various trips out to see us, which allowed us to also meet more of our Edmonton-area family. I particularly loved the 9 days my family spent with us because we spent so much time playing tourists. I know that it really helped my family get to know David--they rarely get to see him since we both have family obligations over vacations home and Port isn’t near enough to Victoria to make it easy, so these vacations together have been quite nice. My family went home mid-August. After that both of us knew that our summer break was over and it was time to focus on the next milestone in our life--applying to grad schools and facing the possibility of spending the next 3-6 years apart.

After my trip to the salon.

David carrying home groceries in -30c (there are more groceries on his back)

An evening at Sarah's.

David's collection of books littering the floor in my room.

Prairie Couple