• Chapter Four: The Accident*

    After we exchanged numbers, I wasn’t sure if I would ever hear from M.

    It had taken me so long to even have a conversation with him that I wasn’t convinced that he was interested enough to call… so I made plans to go home for the weekend. My best friend B had a car on campus, and he offered to drive me as he was also heading home and it was sort of on his way.

    It was not the relaxing respite I was hoping for–I ended up catching a horrible cold and was sick the whole weekend. By the time B arrived to pick me back up on Sunday night, my voice had descended several octaves to what what I lovingly call my “man voice”. As we drove back to Toronto that evening, my phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered in my deepening sick man-voice…

    …only to hear M’s voice on the other line.

    I could tell that he was confused about what was happening–I didn’t sound like myself, I was in a car and he could hear another man’s voice and laugh in the background. I explained my man-voice and spur of the moment trip with B, and promised to call back later that night when I got home.

    I remember feeling so surprised that he called, and those little butterflies that I felt every time I saw him exploded in my stomach. I was excited and nervous–I remember how much I wanted him to like me. After B dropped me off at my residence, I sat down on my bed, took a deep breath and called him back.

    We talked for almost an hour that night about everything and nothing. After spending weeks trying to get him to say two words to me, I was surprised at just how easy he was to talk to. He was warm and funny, and the more we spoke, the more I liked him. Before we hung up we began discussing the possibility of “hanging out” (a non-threatening term for “date” in case he wasn’t interested in me that way), and made plans to talk again soon.

    December was a blur of midterms and assignments, as well as the occasional phone call from M. I was still dating T, but as I went home for the Christmas holidays, it became clear to me where my heart was headed. Shortly after I returned to school in January, I broke things off with T, knowing that M was slowly but surely stealing my heart.

    In early January I was able to get tickets to a professional women’s league hockey event about an hour away, and I invited him to go with me. I didn’t have a car, so he agreed to pick me up from campus and then we’d drive together in his car.

    We made plans to go, but we never made it to the game.

    A few days before our “date”, M called to cancel. After feeling like his walls were coming down and he was letting me in, the conversation felt vague and a little forced. He told me he had been in an accident and that he wasn’t able to drive to the game–though he casually downplayed the extent of what had happened.

    I began to wonder if he just didn’t want to go, or if it was some sign from the universe that this date just wasn’t meant to happen.

    We spoke again a few days later, and I decided to give it one last shot. I had been invited to go night skiing with my parents and siblings as part of a “friends and family” event, and I asked him if he wanted to come. To me it sounded more like just “hanging out” and less like a date, but it also meant that he’d have to meet my family so I wasn’t sure what he’d say.

    To my surprise, he said yes… and thus we set off on one of the worst first dates of all time. ❤️

    __________

    It wasn’t until some time later that I learned the whole truth about that accident.

    M & his car, a few months before the accident.

    One evening, a few days before we were supposed to go to the hockey game, M drove to meet with some friends about 45 minutes east of where he lived. While he was out it began to snow quite heavily, and the highway he needed to take to get home is more rural and not well lit in some areas. It was late at night, and as he came around a corner he hit a patch of black ice. The car began to slide and he lost control, slamming into a huge wooden traffic sign before rolling down a 30ft ravine into the darkness. The car landed on its roof less than a foot away from a massive tree trunk that would have utterly crushed the car had he hit it.

    By some miracle, another vehicle had been traveling behind him and saw his tail lights disappear in the blinding snow. This man pulled off the highway and found the vehicle at the bottom of the hill, with M upside down and unconscious inside. The man, not wanted to move him for fear of greater injury, called 911 and a towing company that thankfully, was only a few kilometers down the road.

    After several minutes M regained consciousness and was able to crawl from the car though a broken window. From where he was he looked up to see the towing company and the man who had seen him go over at the top of the ravine waiting for the ambulance. He crawled to the top and by some miracle walked away with only minor cuts and bruising. I remember his mother recounting this story to me while we were dating and she began to cry when she talked about picking the pieces of broken glass out of his hair when he finally got home that night.

    When I eventually saw photos of the accident, I completely understood why he wouldn’t have wanted to drive such a distance on a winter’s night again.

    After the accident. The rear end was also destroyed… and he crawled out of that front window after freeing himself.
    This was the sign that he hit and completely took out in the accident. It was replaced it with this new one (same size) shortly after. To understand how big it is, M is just over 6′ tall.
    This is where his car landed… next to the massive tree trunk.
    Looking up from the bottom of the ravine his car rolled down. You can see see the broken wooden beam from the sign he took out in the grass on the left, and a piece of his car at the top of the hill.

    _______________

    <<PREVIOUS CHAPTER: The “Good Friend”

    [Original Post: http://lifeisgoodblog.ca/2008/03/chapter-four-the-accident.html/]

  • Chapter Three: The “Good Friend”

    So, we finally met.

    I knew his name, and he could finally put my name in place of the “Lady Bug Girl” which (unbeknownst to me) he had been calling me up to that point.

    A blurry webcam “selfie” in my dorm room,
    taken right around the time when I met M.

    However, things didn’t go quite as smoothly as I hoped. After meeting him late that night, each time I saw him over the next couple of weeks all I could get out of him was a quick smile and a wave. Despite my best efforts to catch his eye, he was so standoffish… and I couldn’t figure out why. He always smiled and seemed happy to see me, but our interactions were so brief.

    I began to wonder if he just wasn’t interested.

    I saw him nearly every Friday evening for several weeks. Each time I saw him he would smile and engage in a bit of small talk before excusing himself to do something else. He was never rude or unfriendly, just very… aloof.

    In the meantime, a boy on my residence block asked me out on date. His name was T, and he was nice, funny, and he looked a little like Vin Diesel, who happened to be my celebrity crush at the time. (It was 2004. If you know, you know.) We were absolute polar opposites in almost every way, but we began spending a little more time together. He was interested in me and I was flattered, but he knew that each Friday was YSA night with my friends… where I’d catch myself thinking about M.

    Several weeks later, something changed.

    Just before Christmas M was asked to help out with an activity. I was sitting on a couch in the foyer with a few friends, and I saw him setting something up across the room. He was alone and there was no one around, so I decided to say hello. I walked over and made some sort of witty comment to begin a conversation. He smiled and laughed, and actually talked to me for a minute or so. He had things in his hands and quickly excused himself to go do something upstairs.

    It had been our longest conversation to that point, but it gave me a sliver of hope. I was still casually dating T at school, but I couldn’t explain the connection I felt to M, even though I barely knew him. There was something about him that I felt very drawn to.

    Later that night, I saw him standing by the refreshment table on his own. We made eye contact from across the room, so I walked over to ask how his portion of the activity had gone. He smiled and actually started talking to me.

    In full sentences. With smiles.

    I was hooked.

    Still chatting, we walked over to the edge of the stage where we could sit and see the sea of people in the room talking and mingling. There, he finally told me a little bit about himself and I began to unravel the mystery of M.

    He told me that he had just come home from serving a two-year church mission in Oregon a few weeks earlier and didn’t really know very many people yet. I immediately offered to introduce him to my circle of friends, pointing out fun people I thought he’d like to meet–carefully avoiding any pretty women. ;)

    We sat together and talked for about a half an hour, by far our longest conversation to date. The wall he had constructed around himself came down, and he was surprisingly easy to talk to. Before long my ride was ready to go, so we exchanged phone numbers… and he said he would call me on Sunday night to continue our conversation.

    I still wasn’t convinced he would call, or that he was interested in anything more than being friends. It was another several weeks before I learned why he had been so reluctant to talk to me.

    Remember his friend A? The one who met my cousin, then came to find me?

    He thought that A was interested in pursuing something with me and didn’t want to hurt his friend, even though he was interested himself. In trying to be considerate to what he assumed were A’s feelings, he built up a wall and stayed back.

    M & A, taken right around the time we met.

    This night, where we first talked, he still wasn’t sure where A or I stood… but he decided to let me in, even if just a little. He recognized that I knew a lot of people at the activities, and thought that I would be a good friend to have, if nothing else.

    In the beginning, he thought that friendship was all that I wanted…

    …little did he know that we would be so much more than that.

    ————–

    <<PREVIOUS CHAPTER: Good Shoes & Good Smile*
    >>NEXT CHAPTER: The Accident

    [Original Post: http://lifeisgoodblog.ca/2008/03/chapter-three-the-first-words.html/]

  • Chapter Two: Good Shoes & A Good Smile*

    For almost two months in the fall of 2004, I only knew M as “the good-looking-guy-from-the-dance”.

    After Hallowe’en, I immersed myself in my new life at school. I slowly adjusted to the somewhat overwhelming format of my new classes, though as a girl from small town South Porcupine, sitting in a lecture hall with 500 other students would never feel “normal”.

    I continued to meet new friends on campus, and slowly established a core group of good friends, many of which I still hold close to my heart to this day. If we weren’t in classes we were hanging out in someone’s apartment or at the Fossil, the local pub down the road with amazing Tuesday night karaoke.

    After spending a good part of my youth feeling a little like an outsider as the girl who didn’t drink, my friends at university never batted an eye. There was something happening on campus every night, and I was always included.

    That is, except for Friday nights.

    Every Friday night, my church hosted a regional activity for “Young Single Adults” aged 18-30.

    It might sound a little hokey, but the events were usually really fun and very well attended. There were dances, games, speakers, etc–but mostly it was a space and time to get together with friends you didn’t get to see all the time. Often groups of us would meet there, then go out for a later dinner or dessert and close out a restaurant somewhere downtown. During the week my life was on campus… but every Friday evening I went to YSA.

    In the weeks after the Hallowe’en, I saw “the good-looking-guy-from-the-dance” a handful of times at these activities. He wasn’t there every week, and he was never with anyone that I knew… and I was still too intimidated to just go up and introduce myself.

    So, he remained “the good-looking-guy-from-the-dance” at a distance, and I was oblivious to the fact that even as I noticed him, he noticed me too.

    This is the part of our story where my cousin G and his friend A like to take credit for helping M & I meet.

    In 2002, A served a mission for my church in Denver, Colorado. A mission typically lasts for two years, and as he was preparing to come home, my cousin G was called to serve in the same place. These two boys from Ontario met in Denver, thrilled to each know someone from the same area of Ontario. They became friends, and just before A came home, G told him about me–his “fun cousin” that was living in the city. He encouraged A to look me up when he got home, after after a few weeks…

    …he did.

    One Friday evening, as I was sitting in the foyer talking to some friends after another YSA activity, a boy I had never seen before walked up to me. He smiled and said hello, then cheekily asked if I was “H”, having fun with the fact that I was more than a little bewildered that this total stranger knew my name. I laughed a little and responded that I was, and out came the story of how he had met G and was sent to meet me. He was nice and friendly, and we talked for a bit before I headed out to take the TTC back to my cozy campus.

    Me, A and Telly at a YSA activity.

    I saw A at YSA a few times in the weeks that followed, and he was always friendly and came over to say hello. He was usually on his own, but on one Friday night I noticed he had some friends with him. As he walked over to to chat one evening, I noticed he walked away from a group of boys that seemed to be waiting for him.

    There, in the group, was “the good-looking-guy-from-the-dance”. To this day I can still see him standing there in his good brown leather shoes, fitted jeans and collared shirt, casually waiting for his friend to finish talking to me. When I caught his eye he smiled at me, and I knew then that come hell or high water, I needed to know his name.

    I coyly asked A who his friends were, and he walked me over and introduced me to the group. It was then that I learned that the tall man with the good smile and good shoes had a name: M.

    He was friendly but a little distant, though I didn’t really learn why until much later. All I knew at the time was that it was after midnight, and they all had a 40 minute drive home and were anxious to get it over with.

    So, I said goodnight to A and watched as “the good-looking-guy-from-the-dance-with-good-shoes-named-M” walked away, and I secretly crossed my fingers that I’d see him again.

    …but at least, for now, I had a name.

    M.

    ————–

    <<PREVIOUS CHAPTER: There He Was*
    >>NEXT CHAPTER: The “Good Friend”


    [Original Post: http://lifeisgoodblog.ca/2008/03/the-meeting-chapter-two.html/]

  • Chapter One: There He Was*

    In truth, M actually noticed me first.

    In October of 2004 I was 19 years old, and living on my own in Toronto for the first time. I was living in a tiny little residence house on campus with five roommates that I was slowly getting to know.

    In less than two months I had gone from being terrified of living on my own and attending university to absolutely loving it. It didn’t take long for me to meet some phenomenal people, and in between my heavy class load I found that I had the social life I had always dreamed about.

    I felt like I was really figuring out who I was for the first time in my life, and I liked what I found. I felt confident. Happy.

    It was… amazing.

    I was also absolutely dirt poor.

    Thanks to my lack of planning (and my shoe obsession), I had more shoes in my closet than I did money in the bank. I lived as frugally as possible, and may or may not have done a few questionable things to keep my grocery bills in check. I went on a few dates just for the free meals (I’m not terribly proud of that) and even participated in a research focus group to earn some grocery money.

    Despite not having two nickels to rub together, I was having the time of my life.

    As September rolled into October, I began to meet people outside of my little campus block. At a party one evening, I met some people down the “block” from where my house was. My housemates and I found out about a Hallowe’en event happening the next Friday evening and decided to go.

    I had already made plans for Saturday night with my best girl friend, so now that I had TWO Hallowe’en events to attend, I knew I needed a costume. After bumming a ride to Walmart, I rummaged through their costumes looking for something that I could afford. There, on the kids clearance rack was a cute Ladybug costume–for $5. Thankfully it fit, and the price was right.

    I wore it first to the campus Hallowe’en event on Friday. I went with friends and had a marvelous time.

    The next night I attended a regional Young Adult (YA) church dance with my friend Telly. She is vibrant and fun– full of the kind of enthusiasm and excitement that you can’t help but be drawn to. I donned my lady bug costume for the second time and met her downtown, ready for a night of fun.

    After excitedly greeting each other in the lobby, she and I burst into the dance, with the kind of confidence only a 19 year old can possess.. The building was packed with friends, and she and I danced our hearts out.

    There, leaning against the wall near the doors, was a boy I had never seen before. He stood out a little as he was not in a costume, but instead was casually wearing a collared button down shirt, nice jeans and good shoes.

    (If it wasn’t already plainly obvious, I was a sucker for good shoes.)

    He seemed a little aloof, but I was instantly drawn to him. He was so good-looking that I found myself too nervous to go talk to him, even with my ladybug disguise. As I danced with Telly, I found my eyes continually following him around the room, looking to see who he was talking to, and if I knew anyone who knew him.

    At one point I looked over and he was gone, and I found myself disappointed that I had absolutely no idea who he was. I went home that night thinking about the cute boy I had seen, and wondered if I would ever see him again.

    At the time, I didn’t know that he had also noticed me. From his spot at the side of the room, he saw me burst through the doors as I entered the dance, laughing and dancing with Telly. He wondered who this “Lady Bug Girl” was, but neither one of us worked up the courage to approach the other that night…

    …and it was almost two months before our paths crossed again.

    <<PREVIOUS CHAPTER: The Prologue*
    >>NEXT CHAPTER: Good Shoes & A Good Smile*

    ___________________
    Original Post: http://lifeisgoodblog.ca/2008/03/chapter-one-love-at-first-sight.html/

  • The Prologue: Thanks Dad*

    Many years ago, when I was still a young university student with more free time than I knew what to do with, I decided to write out the story of how M and I met, dated and got married within eight short months.

    I’m so glad I made a record of it then, because my old brain has since forgotten many of the little details of how our story unfolded. I’ll always keep those entries, but I felt like it was time to go back through and “polish” them a little–my writing style has evolved just a touch since I was twenty two.

    And so, without any further ado, I give you Our Story: The New Edition.

    ____________________

    To understand how I was even able to meet M, I need to preface things a little. I ended up at the university I did because I was mad at my parents… and it ended up being one of the best years of my life.

    But let’s go back to the beginning, shall we?

    I started university a year late.

    Even now, years later a high school teacher, I often think it’s a bit asinine that we expect kids to know what they want to do with the rest of their lives at 17.

    When I was 17 the only decision I felt confident making was whether to order a panzarotti or pizza fingers from our school cafeteria at lunch.

    When university application time rolled around during my final year of high school, I knew I wasn’t ready. My family had just moved seven hours away from the tiny town where I had spent my youth, and it all just felt like too much change. I was already at a new school in a new city, pining for the boy I had left behind. I told my friends it was because I was missing credits, but what I was really missing was my home in the north… and I just wasn’t ready to move again.

    I spent half a year taking high school courses I didn’t need, and the other half working part-time at Payless Shoes while I lived at home. I worked just enough hours to not be broke, and bought just enough shoes to save absolutely nothing.

    With a fabulous shoe collection nearing 100 pairs and no rent to pay, I was living the dream.

    I applied to three universities half-heartedly at my parents request, but I still had no desire to go. The applications went out, and the acceptances came in, but they sat untouched on my kitchen counter for weeks as the deadline loomed.

    Finally, my Dad pulled me aside for a chat that my siblings have lovingly mocked me for ever since. My family nickname is “Beef”, and my brothers and sisters have condensed what my Dad talked to me about that night into three little words: “Git, Beef! Git!”

    A few days before the acceptance deadline, my father sat me down, and firmly told me (with love) that it was time to stop coasting through life. He offered me three choices:

    1. Continue to live at home rent free, but find a real full-time job.
    2. Continue to live at home rent free, but take SOME kind of post secondary educational program.
    3. Accept one of the university program offers I had left sitting on my counter for weeks.

    Continuing to live at home while working part-time on my full-time shoe obsession was not an option.

    I remember feeling SO angry. I wasn’t old enough to understand that what I was really feeling was fear, so I rage-cried on my bedroom floor while I considered my options.

    For two days I did nothing. Then, on the evening before the university acceptance deadline was due, I lay on my bedroom floor looking at the letters before me. I knew which school my mom and dad hoped I’d choose: the small school in a safe little community.

    Still feeling bitter, I chose the other. I chose the school in the big city, which couldn’t be any more opposite from the tiny Northern Ontario community I had grown up in. At midnight, long after my parents had gone to bed, I signed the acceptance letter and sealed the envelope. I left it on the kitchen counter for my parents to find and went to bed.

    I didn’t fully appreciate what happened the next day until many years later. That morning, the day that the acceptance letter was due, my Dad quietly got into his car and drove the two hours each way to hand deliver my university acceptance letter to the OUAC center in Guelph. He and my mom didn’t want me to miss out on the chance of going to school, so he spent half his day in traffic driving it there for me.

    So what does all this have to do with me meeting M?

    …if my Dad hadn’t (lovingly) told me it was time to make some decisions about my life, and then made the sacrifice to drive that letter to Guelph for me, then I wouldn’t have moved to the city and met M.

    If he had known that driving that letter down for me would also mean I would be engaged to someone he had only met a handful of times less than a year later, he might have made a different decision. 😉

    A few months later, I made peace with the fact that I was moving out and decided to make the best of it. I still didn’t know if I was ready, but my parents helped me pack up our vanimal, and my shoes and I moved to the city.

    I was 19, and I knew absolutely no one at the school I had chosen.

    It only took me a week to fall in love with my new school and the people there. After months of worry and not feeling ready, I took a deep breath and stepped into my new life: a single girl in the city ready to learn all the things (and date all the boys).

    That second part lasted a whole four months.

    And the rest, as they say, is history. ❤️

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