• Chapter Eight: The First Kiss

    He said “Yes”.

    After a nearly perfect first date do-over, neither one of us were ready for it to end. We stole inside to the warmth of my residence apartment, happy to find that my five roommates were either out or in their rooms for the night, which meant that we had the living room to ourselves.

    It was already quite late, so I didn’t expect him to stay long. We sat down on the couch to talk and I flipped on the TV for background noise. While we began on either end of the couch, over the next half an hour or so we slowly moved closer together so that first, his hand found mine.

    Then, a subtle shift so that our knees were touching…

    …then his arm was around me and and he pulled me close.

    Even though I pretended to “play it cool”, I was positively dancing inside. I can still remember how my stomach was flip flopping and was absolutely FULL of butterflies as he pulled me close into his chest. We sat like this and flipped through the channels trying to find something fun to watch, but my channel options were limited and that late at night there wasn’t anything good on. We finally found some terrible movie (that I later learned was Midnight Run) and only half paid attention.

    My mind was spinning. We were cuddling, holding hands and had just had the most perfect date… would he try and kiss me? Should I let him if he tried? Even though it was our first date do-over, it was technically our second date. Was that too soon?

    …what if my roommates came in and spoiled it?

    When it became clear that neither of us were interested in the movie, we sat and talked quietly about this and that. We were sitting side by side and I was half curled up in his arm and chest. As I turned to my face up to look at him for a minute he leaned in for a kiss and caught me off guard…

    …and missed.

    Before I understood what he was doing I had moved my head and instead of my mouth he ended up kissing my chin. It was so cute and sweet (and a little funny) that I let him try again and we had the most amazing first kiss… it was one of those head-in-the-clouds-heart-pounding-knees-melting-toes tingling kisses that you wait your whole life for. He held me tightly and kissed me again and I knew I was done for… he had me: hook, line, and sinker.

    He didn’t stay much longer after that as he had to work early the next morning, so we walked to my doorway and he took me in his arms one more time, and then he was gone. I’m pretty sure I stood in my doorway with the BIGGEST smile on my face for the next few minutes before waltzing back into my little house. If you have ever seen My Fair Lady, the scene where Eliza dances and sings “I Could Have Danced All Night” pretty much sums up my reaction.

    As I climbed into bed (absolutely wide awake) my mind replayed the events of the evening… the perfect dinner, our first dance together, our first KISS… my heart started racing all over again. He certainly acted like he liked me… and from what I had seen he was a very genuine person. But I, being me, still had a shed of self-doubt after our disastrous skiing date. What if he didn’t call?

    And so, after my heart stopped beating a million miles a minute I fell asleep replaying the kiss over in my mind…

    …and hoped that he was falling for me as hard as I was for him.

    <<PREVIOUS CHAPTER: The First Date Do-Over

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

  • Chapter Seven: The First Date Do-over

    The morning after our ski trip / concussion incident, B felt that he was okay to drive, so we decided to head back into the city. Remember: this was an unplanned overnight excursion, so as attractive as I had looked the night before, it was doubled come morning with no clean clothes or personal care supplies.

    If you can’t quite picture it, I was lookin’ fiiiiine. ;)

    We were all exhausted after the events of the previous evening, so we were all quiet on the drive home. When we arrived back on my campus M left to head home, and I finally had a moment to reflect on our first date. I was positive that the first half had been a complete and utter disaster, but I hoped he had enjoyed our night-long conversation and laughter as much I had. Before he left that morning he had promised to call later in the week, and despite his perfect track record for calling when he said that he would, I was still unsure of where things were going. So, I waited.

    One day passed.

    Two days passed.

    …almost. On Wednesday night my phone rang, and my heart skipped a beat when I heard his voice. Despite my abandoning him on a ski hill in an unknown city for hours, he asked if I’d have dinner with him. I said yes without hesitation, hopeful that this could be a “do-over” from our disastrous first date. We decided to go out that Friday, before heading over to the YSA dance I had planned to attend later that night.

    When Friday night arrived I was determined to look FABULOUS to make up for my bush-woman-Green-Giant ski trip appearance. I was a little braver with my style choices in those days, and I picked out a pair of faded jeans with a white top and mauve knitted shawl, paired with my favourite pink stiletto ankle boots. I wore my hair down and curly, and tucked my Green Giant suit away for another date.

    He arrived looking better than I did in a white and blue collared shirt, dark jeans and great shoes, pulled together with a leather jacket. We talked shyly but excitedly as we walked to his car, ready to put the ski trip behind us. He remembered that I’d said I loved chicken during our middle of the night conversation, and took me to Swiss Chalet.

    (It has been and always will be one of my favourite restaurants. Their french fries, dip and white rolls are AMAZING.)

    As far as date do-overs go, we knocked it out of the park. From the moment we sat down we picked up right where we’d left off and talked easily and comfortably without any awkward pauses. He was charming and funny, and the more we spoke the more I liked him. Dinner flew by, then M chose an ice cream sundae for dessert. Our server slyly asked if we’d like two spoons, and with a smile, we both said, “Yes”. For a few minutes it felt like we were in an old 1950s ice cream parlour as talked and laughed and we shared our sundae.

    We reluctantly left the restaurant and drove into the city for the dance. I began to feel nervous while we drove–we hadn’t established anything about what we were, or if we even wanted our friends there to know that we had been on a date. We walked in together, then shortly afterward A spotted M waved him over, and I found Telly. I poured out the details of our dinner before she pulled me onto the dance floor, anxious to get a better look at the man I was obviously head over heels for.

    M and I spent much of the evening apart, unsure of how much attention we wanted to draw to ourselves. Even though there were hundreds of people at the dance, The YSA community is small, and we knew that people would speculate and talk once they saw us together. I danced with Telly and my girlfriends, and he spent much of the night talking with A.

    Eventually, the DJ played a slower song and as Telly ran off to find someone to dance with, I scanned the room for M. As an attractive, single, well-dressed man I knew that someone was bound to ask him to dance, and I realized that more than anything, I wanted that person to be me.

    I caught his eye from across the room and made my way over to where he was…. and I asked him if he would dance with me. He smiled and nodded, and I took his hand as we walked onto the floor. I can’t remember what song was playing, but I doubt that I was listening much anyway. As we danced he held me close and I knew that I was exactly where I wanted to be. From that point on we found each other for every slow dance, finding it a little harder to let go after each one.

    The night couldn’t have been any more perfect. We stayed until the end of the dance, stealing moments to be alone or discreetly hold hands as we talked with friends. There was a light snow falling as he drove me home, easily after midnight at this point. He walked me to the door of my residence where we stood and talked for a minute more, both unwilling to let the evening end just yet. It didn’t take long for the January night air to seep through our coats, and I debated whether or not I should invite him in… just for a minute.

    I bit the bullet and asked, and he said…


    <<PREVIOUS CHAPTER: The Worst First Date (Part Two)
    >>NEXT CHAPTER: The First Date Do-Over

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

  • Chapter Six: The Worst First Date (Part Two)

    After conquering the bunny / learner hills, L and I began to hit the slopes.

    I figured we’d eventually run into M, B and the rest of my family, but it was still just us several runs and at least 45 minutes later. I hoped M was enjoying himself somewhere, though I felt badly that I had invited him to come and had barely seen him since we arrived. B was also conspicuously absent.

    L and I hopped on the chair lift and made our way back to the top. As we eased off the lift and headed toward the hill, I saw B standing near a group of people looking rather confused. We skied over, and this was our conversation:

    Me: “Hi B! Where have you been? We haven’t seen you all night! Have you seen M anywhere?” (Distracted, I immediately began scanning the people around looking for him.)
    B: “I’m not really sure. I don’t know where I am.”

    (It’s important to note that B has a wickedly funny sense of humour. I immediately assumed that he was kidding with me.)

    Me: “Haaaa. Very funny. Be serious. I haven’t seen you all night. How have you been?”
    B: “I have no idea. How did I get here?” (I could hear an edge of panic creep into his voice, and as I really looked at his face, I could see in his eyes that he was not joking.)
    Me: “B, what are you talking about? We are skiing with my family. We drove up a few hours ago. Don’t you remember?”
    B: (Breathing quickly and nervously) “H, I can’t remember anything past breakfast. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”
    Me [starting to really really worry]: “This isn’t funny. Are you being absolutely serious with me? You can’t remember? Did you fall?”
    B: “I don’t know. My head hurts.”
    Me: “Okay. Don’t worry… we’ll find someone… somewhere….” (As I looked around I realized that the crowd of people that had JUST been there had disappeared and it was now just him, L & I at the top of the hill.)
    Me: “Do you think that you can make it down the hill? We’ll take the easy one and go really slowly.”
    B: “Yeah I think so.”

    As he turned around to start down the hill I saw that the back of his hat was COVERED in snow, as was his back. Realizing then that he had probably fallen and hit his head, concern turn to full blown worry for my friend. I didn’t want him to panic any more than he already was, so I brightly rambled about this and that as we slowly zig zagged our way down the hill. L skied ahead for help, and there were two Ski Patrollers waiting for us when we got to the bottom. The next portion of the conversation went something like this:

    SP#1: “Hi there! What’s your name?”
    B: “I’m B.”
    SP#1:
    “Hi B, I’m Spider.
    B: “Hi Spider.”
    SP#2: “Hi B, I’m George.” (He then pointed to the first Ski Patroller.) “Do you remember who this is?”
    B: “No, we’ve never met.”
    SP#1: “Sure we did! I’m Spider!” (pointing to Ski Patrol #2) “What about him? Do you remember his name?”
    B [looking awfully frustrated]: “No.”

    Spider and George decided that we needed to move over to the first aid hut. I stayed with B, and L skied off to find my mom, who was reading in the chalet. The next few minutes were spent assessing how badly B had hit his head and whether or not he needed to go to the hospital. They found a rather large bump but no cut, and informed me that it was most likely a mild concussion.

    My mom arrived and we listened as the Ski Patrollers talked to B. After a few questions we realized that he had absolutely NO short term memory whatsoever. He was able to remember up to breakfast that morning, but anything after that was absolutely gone. After assessing him for a few minutes they decided that the concussion wasn’t bad enough to warrant a hospital visit, but were given some other instructions:

    1. B shouldn’t drive for the next 12 hours.
    2. If he slept, he needed to be woken up every 2 hours or so to make sure that everything was okay.

    We left the First Aid hut and moved over to the chalet, where it was at least 45 minutes before any of his memory began trickling back, and it wasn’t all at once. First he could remember up to lunch that day, but nothing further. An hour or so later he could remember driving to the ski hill with me, and the next day he remembered how he fell, but to this day he has absolutely no recollection of the half hour or so between when I found him at the top of the hill to when we were about to leave the First Aid Hut.

    We had been sitting in the chalet for some time before we realized that I had all but abandoned M.

    It had now been hours since we arrived, and I had absolutely no idea where he was. It was almost time to leave, so I left B in the care of my mom and went out to try and find him. I took the chair lift to the top but he was no where to be found. I skied down the hill feeling awful, and absolutely convinced that he would never want to go out with me again.

    In the meantime he had realized that it was getting late and that he needed to find me. While I was out looking for him, he made his way to the chalet where he found my mother. He ended up sitting with her until I made my way back to the chalet, where I apologized profusely and explained my absence all evening. He understood, but quietly thought it was a little strange that I had invited him all this way to go skiing together, only to leave him on his own all night where he didn’t know a soul.

    In the previous chapter I highlighted that B had driven us up in his little standard car. It’s a small, but significant detail.

    The first responders told us that B was in no shape to drive, and shouldn’t get behind a wheel for at least 12 hours. At that point, I had only driven standard once or twice in my life, and it had been years since M had either. He wasn’t really comfortable easing back into standard driving in a stranger’s car, at night, just two weeks after his accident. We quickly realized that we were stuck, and would be spending the night at my parents’ house.

    So not only did M get to meet my family on our first date, he also got to have a sleepover. With me, and B… and no supplies since we had planned to drive back to the city that same evening.

    My parents’ live in a cozy three bedroom home. My little brothers were still living at home at the time, so while they all slept upstairs, the three of us camped out downstairs. The plan was that B and M would sleep in the basement rec room, and I would crash on the couch in the living room with the solemn responsibility of waking B up every 2 hours. I was told that I couldn’t start the first 2 hour shift until he had fallen into a deep sleep, so I stayed downstairs to keep watch / make up for my horrendous manners in abandoning M all night. He later revealed that even my brother had wandered off on his own, so he had snowboarded alone most of the evening. I felt horrible. I figured the least I could do was sit and talk with him until I could start my first sleep shift.

    At roughly 10:30pm we quietly turned on a movie and waited for B to fall asleep.

    B was restless and it took him FOREVER to fall asleep, so we turned off the movie and started talking quietly instead. At some point we started laughing about a sock (I can’t quite remember the joke), but I will FOREVER remember B sitting up and angrily saying, “TAKE OFF YOUR OWN DANG SOCK.” Lol.

    After he finally dozed off an hour or so later, I decided that I would stay downstairs for the first two hours so that M and I could keep talking. Well, they flew by, so I decided to stay for two more… and before I knew it was 5:30am and we had spent the entire night talking. I realized that my dad, the perpetual early riser, would wake up any minute and would be less than pleased to find that his youngest daughter had just spent all night talking to a boy. I crept upstairs to the living room, hoping he hadn’t already come down to find me absent. The house was still dark and quiet, so with my heart racing in my chest I pretended to sleep as I waited for him to come downstairs. Exhaustion finally overtook me and I fell into a deep hard sleep for about two hours.

    I honestly think I started to fall in love with him that night. In the hours between B’s wake-up calls, we talked about anything and everything. He opened up and talked about his recent church service mission in Oregon and about growing up in his small apartment in the city. I can’t remember our entire conversation, but I will always remember how I felt. My heart was racing and I had butterflies in my stomach, but at the same time I felt so comfortable with him. We had really only just met, but it felt like we had known each other for years.

    We honestly just talked for hours… lying on the floor with our hands almost touching, wanting to hold them but both us afraid to make the first move. It sounds silly now, but at one point I remember our fingers brushed and it was like a bolt of electricity shot through me. When I finally went upstairs (for fear of being caught by my father) I knew that I was already crazy about him… and I could only hope that he felt the same way about me.

    B finally regained the bulk of his memory the next day. When I asked him what happened, he told me how he had started off on the small hills with L and I, but quickly got bored of that and moved to something that looked a little more exciting– moguls. He remembers making it over the first one, gaining speed as he hit the second, and when he hit the third his feet went up over his head and that was that.

    I’m so grateful that he wasn’t more seriously injured… though I’ve always secretly been the smallest, tiniest, teensiest bit grateful that he was. If he had been well enough to drive home that night, I’m honestly not sure that M would have ever asked me out again. It was in those quiet hours in the middle of the night that all the walls came down and we really got to know one another. It was B’s concussion that really pushed us together, and for that, I’ll always be grateful. ❤️

    B & I (sans helmets).

    P.s. Except for the loss of memory for those 20 minutes, B was totally fine the next day… though my family continued to tease him about wearing a helmet for ALL occasions for years. ❤️

    _____________
    <<PREVIOUS CHAPTER: The Worst First Date (Part One)

    [Original Post: http://lifeisgoodblog.ca/2008/03/chapter-6-the-ski-trip-part-2.html/]

  • Chapter Five: The Worst First Date* (Part One)

    After much tribulation we made a second attempt at a first “date” and set a time to go night skiing.

    My family lives in an area of the province known as the snow belt. There are several ski hills in the area, and my parents happened to be friends with a couple that worked at one. They invited our family to attend a ‘friends & family night’ to go skiing for free, which they excitedly accepted. My parents invited me, and I in turn invited M.

    …and my male best friend B. To go on a date / meet my entire family at the same time. No pressure.

    I asked B to come with me for three reasons:

    1. After learning about his accident, I didn’t want to ask M to drive to the ski hill as it was roughly 1.5 hours away, and we’d be coming back in the dark.
    2. I was still really unsure about where M stood with me. After he cancelled our last date, I worried that he’d only accepted my invitation to be nice. If the date was a bust, I wanted someone there that I knew I’d have fun with.
    3. My family LOVES B. He is one of the kindest and funniest people I know, and I knew that regardless of how things went with me + M + my family, he’d make it fun.

    I have no regrets about inviting B that night. If he hadn’t come with me, the night would probably have been much less of a disaster… but it was the disaster element of the date that really pushed M and I together.

    …and B loves to take credit for that.

    But I’m getting ahead of myself here. Let’s go back to the beginning, shall we?

    On the day of the ski trip M got a ride to my university residence sometime in the late afternoon. I am a Northern Ontario girl at heart, and as I was going skiing, I dressed for the occasion in the winter gear I had with me on campus. We had really only seen each other a handful of times until this point, and each time I was dressed to go out– hair and make-up done with a carefully chosen outfit.

    That day it didn’t even occur to me to try to look nice as I knew I’d probably get dirty or messy while skiing, so I came out to greet him with no make-up, my curly lion hair untamed and undone in an old over sized sweatshirt. The only outdoor clothing I had that was ski-appropriate was what we now lovingly call my “Green Giant” outfit: a pair of forest green slush pants with a matching jacket, and my Napoleon Dynamite winter boots for the cherry on top.

    (Once upon a time, as I was diversifying my skill set, I felt it might be important to know the entire Napoleon Dynamite dance from start to finish. I practiced and memorized the entire thing, and found a pair of winter boots that looked JUST like his iconic boots in the movie at a thrift store. Paired with grey joggers and a “Vote for Pedro” shirt some friends made me, we were basically twins. I performed the dance once at a YSA activity before retiring… but I kept the boots. Which I obviously decided to wear on my first date.)

    This is the only picture I have of it, and it was taken after we had been dating for a month or so. It’s a little creased as it lived in M’s wallet for over a decade.

    M, B, my Green Giant suit and I piled into B’s car and headed north. We stopped at my parents house on the way to the ski hill, and looking back now I can imagine how awkward or uncomfortable that must have been for him. My family already knew and loved B, who fit in immediately with the loud and crazy dynamic of my big family.

    As M met my parents and siblings he was friendly and polite, but quiet. What my sister initially perceived as “standoffish” when she met him that night was just M feeling a little shy and overwhelmed by my family… which he was also meeting on his first date with me. Having grown up in the happy chaos that is five siblings, I sometimes forget that not everyone comes from a big family, and we can be a little intense.

    M comes from a quiet family of four and has only one sibling. They are calm and enjoy activities of a quieter nature. My family, on the other hand, is… loud. I have three brothers and two sisters and we all get along really well. Whenever we are together there is usually little personal space and a lot of laughter and noise. We are intensely competitive and fiercely protective of one another, unless someone else is winning at Uno or Mexican Train.

    Then the gloves come off.

    In short, meeting my family was a bit of an adjustment for M, particularly as he was still only just getting to know me.

    After “gathering the troops” we all headed over to the ski hill to get outfitted with our rental gear.

    This part of the story is important.

    I, recognizing that it had been a while since I had last been on a ski hill, chose regular skis with poles for extra balance. My sister L, who was an inexperienced skier, chose the same, as did most of my other siblings who were there. M and my little brother J decided to try snowboarding.

    B, wanting to be extra adventurous, chose ski blades without poles.

    After getting our gear, we all headed out to the hill together. We initially had no intention of separating, but I could tell that L was nervous as it was her first time on skis. We started off on the kiddie hills to get our bearings, but J & M quickly got bored and went off in search of something a little bigger. Despite it being his first time on snow blades, B also quickly got bored and wandered off.

    I stayed with L, and before long she and I made our way to the ski lift and began to enjoy the slopes–with M or B no where in sight.

    Little did we know that before the end of the night one of us would end up with a concussion…

    …but that’s another story. ;)

    _____________
    <<PREVIOUS CHAPTER: The Accident
    >>NEXT CHAPTER: The Worst First Date (Part Two)

    [Original Post: http://lifeisgoodblog.ca/2008/03/chapter-five-the-ski-trip-part-1.html/]

  • 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/]

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