Let me take you back to the first week of September 1993. I saw this girl during orientation week at university. We were on a school bus on the way to a bar for a drink fest (this was back when schools allowed and even sponsored these sorts of things). She was standing in the aisle, one hand on a seatback, the other pushing her hair behind her ear. She was talking with her friends, or maybe just some random people, it was hard to tell. She looked happy though.
I was sitting two rows down from her. I turned to the guy beside me and said, “I’m going home with her tonight.” He sized her up, then looked back at me and said, “No. You are most definitely not.”
He was right.
However, a short time later I was in the room of a friend across the hall, my new buddy Riaz, and she was there playing Sonic on his roommate’s Sega Genesis. We got to talking and I asked her if she wanted to see these new glow-in-the-dark stars I put on my ceiling.
She said, “Sure, why not?”
We went back to my room and hung out, and thus began a casual fling that lasted a couple of months. She did drive me to vote for the very first time, and my mom did make her a toasted tomato sandwich, but eventually, it ran its course. I won’t bore you with the details, but a few months after the end I was a Jerky McJerkface and she didn’t say much to me for the greater part of a year.
Then, I went to a house party she and her roommates were throwing (I was invited by one of them; I didn’t just show up). I met her brother. We talked and hung out. It was nice. As another year went by, we spent a lot of it playing pool, hanging out, and just enjoying each other’s company. We’d occasionally share a kiss or two, but it wasn’t a thing. What we were starting to notice though, was gravity appeared to be stronger when we were in proximity to each other.
Then one day in October of 1995, I’m working a student co-op job in a city about an hour away and I come up to the on-campus pub for Wednesday’s Rock and Roll night. She was there, playing pool (she and I could each own a table for the night and often did). We chatted, shot some stick, and then I asked her, “How about you come down and spend the weekend with me?”
Her friends all told her it was a bad idea, no good could come of it, and so on. Well, not too long after I floated the idea of a weekend get-together, the guy she was casually dating walked in, saw her, and didn’t so much as wave hello. He went straight outside to have a beer and cigarette with his buddies.
She turned to me and said, “Sure why not?”
We spent the weekend playing pool at Skyline Billiards (which, sadly, has since closed), hanging out with a med student friend of mine and his weird med student peers, and enjoying each other’s company. On Sunday morning we walked up the street to a local pancake house and had breakfast together (shoutout to the Maple Leaf Pancake House). She said she’d stay another night. She rode the bus with me to work Monday morning and was supposed to go home but when I got back she was in my house. I think she might have even made dinner.
She said, “I’ll go back tomorrow.”
She rode the bus with me to work on Tuesday and did go home. I called her that night to make sure she got back okay and mentioned that the weekend was really cool. She agreed. I asked her if she would like to be a regular thing. She said she would.
All our mutual friends gave it a month on the low end and a few months at best. A bit more than a year later I was taking her to the hospital to get her fingertip sewn back on after The Great Bagel Cutting Incident of 1997. Two years later we moved in together. Three years later I proposed. Four years later we were married.
For our first (paper) anniversary, I commissioned an art student from our alma mater (the University of Waterloo. Go Warriors!) to do a chalk drawing of my wife as a 19-year-old standing in the aisle of a school bus.
On November 6, 2022, we will celebrate 23 years of marriage.
A few years back someone asked us if there was a moment when we knew that the other was “the one”. For me, it was after we had moved in together and I was doing the prep for a barium enema (a hilarious story that’s going into my next book). Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration, but for sure it was shortly after we moved in together earlier in the same year (when I started the process of having her engagement ring custom-made).
Her response? All she said was one word.