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.

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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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