With the world in the midst of the Vancouver Olympic games, you are probably thinking this post is going to have something to do with winter sports, medals or athletes. Although I have been following the Olympic games with some interest, and following Stephen Colbert's coverage of the games with even more interest, this post is dedicated to one Canadian in particular.
It is about a boy, as so many of my most heart wrenching tales seem to be. This particular boy (hereafter known as the Canadian) has once again left me mystified. It is a complex tale of love found, love lost, love found again, love lost again and well, you get the pattern here.
It all started when I was 20 years old. I had just finished college and decided to pursue a graduate program in Minnesota. I had one summer left in my home state of Michigan and then it was time to move to the Land of 10,000 Lakes. So of course it was perfect timing to meet the first big love of my life.
I met the Canadian in a bar. You can drink when you are 19 in Canada, so we all hung out there quite a bit before we became of age in the States. I had a great outfit planned that night. My best friend's funky black leather jacket, a plain white tee and some blue jeans (hey, cut me some slack, it was the 90's! Hopefully they were not acid washed jeans, but I honestly don't remember.) When I got up to the door, I found they had instituted a 'no leather jackets' policy in the bar, so I had to check my coat. That left me wearing a plain white tee and jeans. Not terribly exciting.
Anyway, I was at the bar ordering a fuzzy navel or some other girly drink and the Canadian came over and bought me a shot. It was one of those blow job shots and as it turned out, he was the salesman who sold the whipped cream to make the shots. Now I was pretty innocent back in those days and had never done a shot before, let alone the blow job variety. So when I went to pick it up, he gently held my arm and motioned to my lips. "No hands," he said. Trying to be cool, I laid the shot glass on the counter, leaned my head down and cradled the edge of the glass between my lips. As I flipped my head back to take in the shot, all of the whipped cream got stuck and most of the shot dribbled down onto my plain white tee shirt. Sexy.
From that night, things were hot and heavy with the Canadian. I really can't describe why or how, but we had this connection. He lived in Toronto, but would come home to his parents place in Windsor every weekend to see me. And at the end of the summer when I moved to Minnesota, he drove with me taking the last carload of clothes and household items. That trip was an amazing journey, probably worthy of its own blog entry someday.
When I got to my new life in Minneapolis, all I could do was think about him. I would call him before he went to bed to say goodnight, then stay up all night studying and call him back the next morning before he left for work. There were no cell phones back then so we are talking some pretty serious long distance charges. But that's the price of love, I guess.
After mid terms, he drove out to see me. It was Halloween weekend. He showed up at my apartment looking so nervous and clutching a bag of BBQ Fritos he had brought with him from Canada. BBQ Fritos were a big deal to me. The ones from Canada tasted better than the ones in the States and they were my favorite. We would always stop and pick up a bag when we were out and about. Anyway, the bag of fritos sat on my kitchen table as we said our hellos. "Aren't you going to have some?" he asked. I wasn't really hungry, but he kept pestering me about it so I finally opened the bag.
I will never forget this moment. I was standing at my kitchen table and he was sitting in a chair looking up at me. As I reached into the bag, I felt something wrapped in plastic, almost like a prize in a cereal box. When I pulled it out, it was a burgundy velvet box inside of a little ziplock bag. I looked at him and he just smiled. I opened the box to find a small pear shaped diamond ring in a cathedral setting (yellow gold, of course. Remember we are still in the 90's.)
He looked up at me and said "Well, will you?"
Of course I said yes, and then everything after that is a little fuzzy. There were some phone calls, including one to my mother who was absolutely shocked that her 21 year old was engaged to a 26 year old Canadian that she had known for less than 6 months. That night after all of the activity had died down, it was just him and me. He quickly drifted to sleep, exhausted from his trip and I just laid there. Awake. Contemplating the weight of the decision I had just made. In two days he was gone, back to Canada.
The next time I was home was Thanksgiving weekend. I hadn't seen him since the proposal and I was really feeling the pressure from my family to call things off. I was only 21, he was 26. I lived in the States, he lived in Canada. I was just starting my Masters degree, he was just a salesman. These of course were everyone else's concerns. Not mine. But when you are 21, everyone else's concerns somehow become your own.
By the end of Thanksgiving weekend we were broken up. I was in tears and miserable. And headed back to Minnesota. I thought of him every day for a long time after that.
Flash forward a few years. I had finished my Masters degree and launched my fledgling career in Minnesota. I was moving home to Michigan. One of my first priorities: find the Canadian and tell him I was too young to know what I was doing and I was crazy to break up with him. I just hoped he would take me back.
Still in the 90's and barely past the dawn of the Internet, I had to seek out a private investigator to find him. For $100 I ended up with an address scrolled on a sheet of paper. I drove straight there from the Private Investigator's office. I took a deep breath and walked up to the door. Much to my surprise, a woman answered the door. And there was a young girl standing right behind her. I mumbled something about having the wrong house and ran back to my car. As I sat there crying over the dashboard, the woman knocked on my window. "I recognize you from your pictures," she said. "Why don't you come in?"
As it turns out, the Canadian had been thinking about me too. This woman knew all about me. And as I looked down at her hand I noticed that she was wearing my ring! To make a long story short, I did eventually talk to the Canadian. The woman was his live in girlfriend. They were not particularly happy, but had a child together and as we soon discovered, another one on the way. She had known about our engagement, found my ring in his drawer and started wearing it. I guess I can't blame her for that, it wasn't really mine anymore.
The Canadian and I took some time to assess our options and tried to find some way to make things work. He thought about leaving her to be with me. But in the end he could not be apart from his daughter and we decided to part ways. He told me that he would find me again when we were 40 and things were less complicated.
Flash forward again to modern times. We are finally out of the 90's so my hair and outfits are significantly improved and the Internet is now a more useful tool. Especially a particular tool called Facebook. Maybe you've heard of it. I am now working in a job I hate and traveling to various places to meet with clients. This time I was in Baltimore getting ready for a meeting when the light started flashing on my blackberry. It was around 8:00 AM which usually means one of two things: Ann Taylor Loft coupons or spam. When I picked it up, I saw that the Canadian had sent me a message on Facebook. It simply said "Hi."
I wrote him back a casual note, which led to some witty banter and eventually led to an invitation for drinks when I got back in town. When I saw him again, we picked up exactly where we left off. I told him I was shocked when I got his message and he said "Why? I always told you I would come and find you when we were 40." Yes, I knew he said that, but what surprised me is that he remembered he said it and even more surprising, that he actually did it.
Things were amazing those first few weeks. We were catching up on everything, talking about the past and planning our future. He was now divorced and had full custody of his three kids. In addition to being a full time Dad, he was working midnights and coaching high school football as well. His plate was pretty full. But that didn't seem to bother him at first. He would somehow find the time to be with me.
Then he starting disappearing. I went from hearing from him every other day, to every other week. Then sometimes he would make plans and never show up. He would always have an apology or an explanation. Things would go wrong with the kids at the house. His crazy ex would refuse to have all three kids overnight so he could not come out. To put it in his words, life just seemed to be getting in the way.
The last time I saw him was right before Christmas. He called me on a Saturday night to see if I could come over. At the last minute he had figured a way to get all of the kids out of the house overnight and we would have the place to ourselves. I went over there and we had the most amazing night. We drank wine and listened to all of our music and we talked about how we fell in love. At one point, he was telling me something I had said to him back in Toronto, and he remembered the exact moment and the song that was playing at the time. I looked at him and said "You must have thought of me a lot." Without hesitation, he replied "Every day."
That night we laid in his bed and both slept more soundly than we had in a long time. I woke up the next morning, got my stuff together and kissed him goodbye. The Christmas tree was sitting there half decorated in his living room, waiting for the kids to come home and finish it. He said he would try to come over later in the week if he could, but he didn't want to make any promises he couldn't keep.
I have not heard from him since. It has been over two months, and I finally broke down and wrote him a note tonight. Just to ask him what happened and to tell him that I will be sending him some things he left at my house. As I pack up the clothes he left behind, I sit back and wonder how we got here and whether the mystical Canadian will ever find me again. And more importantly, if he does find me again will I take him back?
Looking back on our most recent attempt, I realized something. When we were together, we always talked about the past or we talked about the future. But we rarely talked about the present. Maybe that's because there wasn't really a place for us in the present. My only hope is that somehow the present will turn into the future. Unfortunately, the future is always a day away.