Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Story of Us

Today is a special day for me—it’s the 2-year anniversary of my marriage to my best friend.
So, today I’m not talking about food or exercise at all.  I’m telling the story of US.  It’s not about being Paleo or primal, it’s not about being skinny or fit.  There’s more to life than just what you put in your mouth. This is a story about living life to its fullest, about love, about laughing and having fun.  This is OUR story.
Steve and I met back in high school.  Steve knew who I was in grade nine, and friends of mine kept pointing him out to me, as in “that’s the guy with the huge crush on you” and I’d walk on by him, pretending I didn’t notice him, like I didn’t have a clue who he was because we hadn’t actually been introduced and what do you say to the “guy with the huge crush??” 
But in grade 10, we actually ended up in a few classes together.  I eventually spoke to him, and we became best friends that year.  We started hanging out together so frequently that all of our friends began to push us to get together as more than just friends.  I wasn’t so sure.  I was a party girl, in way over my head and hanging out with all the wrong people.  I thought I was all grown up and tough and into the whole drinking and smoking scene, and Steve was a good guy, never in any trouble, just wanted to be wherever the fun was, just wanting to be part of something.  He saw a side of me that I didn’t see at all.
Steve & I on the left, and by the way, the one in the middle was our wedding witness...

We tried dating—for, like 2 days—and I remember finally kissing him and....it wasn’t right.  We were too close, too familiar, too much friends.  It was like....kissing your best friend.  It was just wrong.  So it ended there, but we remained best friends.  We were glued at the hip through grade 11 (hence the infamous canoe trip I mentioned in my migraine post).  The only time we stopped talking was when someone told Steve that him & I would never be an item.  And six months went by before I could corner him and make him shut up and listen, and by that very next day we were kicking ourselves for letting six months go by without talking, wasted time when we could have been having fun together.  We tried one last date in my senior year, to a very expensive restaurant, and we had a fabulous time together (I dared him to eat the seafood dish they presented us with—with octopus tentacles in it.  He ate it as I laughed so loudly that it actually got us in trouble with our waiter).  But I couldn’t bring myself to kiss him again.  We were just....too good of friends.  I never, ever wanted to lose that.  We resigned ourselves to “friends dates”—chaperoning our friends on their dates as they had romantic evenings and we just had a heck of a lot of fun.
We had one last huge party together where, in a drunken farce, our friends decided to marry us with me in a borrowed bikini and wearing the “drink float” from the hot tub as my hat, Steve unable to stand straight and talking the whole time, though in the videotape (yes, our friends taped the event) you can’t make out a single word he’s saying because he’s so drunk.  We gave up the thought of there ever being an “us”.  There never had been and never would be, I thought.
I graduated and went off to college.  He graduated and joined the army.  We grew up, moved away, met our spouses-to-be, got married, had kids, bought homes and life went on.  We stayed in touch, just the occasional email, maybe a visit once every couple of years.  His wife and I were pregnant at the same time, her with her first and only child, me with my second, and we ended up having our daughters only 2 days apart.  I can remember bringing them together when they were about 2 for a play date.
Our spouses weren’t terribly happy with our friendship.  Maybe they saw something we didn’t.  There were a few quiet years when I didn’t hear from Steve much at all, first because my husband opposed the friendship, but then secondly because his wife got cancer and she didn’t survive it.  Those were quiet and hard years.
Steve became a single parent when their daughter was 3.  He raised her on his own.  The army transferred him onto a “compassionate” placement that meant he would no longer go overseas as the sole surviving parent. 
My marriage was frequently rocky.  We just weren’t a good match.  I got pregnant with my first child when my first husband and I were just dating, and we thought we had it good enough to give it a try, so try we did.  I was married to my first husband for 13 years.  We had nothing in common.  We couldn’t even stand to be in the same room together.  When it was time to finally call it quits and I was an emotional wreck heading into my divorce, I missed my best friend more than anything.  Funny, I had many, many friends to talk to about everything, but when the divorce began, the only person I really wanted to talk to was Steve.  So I called him up.
A lot of years had passed since we’d last spoken.  It turned out he was living just a couple of towns away from me and despite me not being there when his wife died, he dropped everything and came and saw me.  He listened as I went on and on and on, as I bashed men and marriage and vented every frustration I had.  He was my rock.  He asked for nothing.  He always had time.
Months went by as I raged about the divorce.  Then one day, in yet another angry fit, I heard myself say it out loud, “I should have married my best friend!”  No truer words could be said.  My first husband and I were many things, but we were never friends.  Romance comes and goes, people age and people change.  But when all else fades away, a best friend is still a best friend.  And even though Steve and I had grown up and changed, and we were not the people we once were in high school, we now found we liked the new people that we had become—and we could still make anything fun.  Heck, he helped me renovate my post-divorce house before ever living in it, and one day, exhausted, I cut us up a couple of apples and stuffed some peanut butter into them, and standing in the bedroom beside the bathroom where we’d been working all day, the peanut butter fell out of his apple and onto the bedroom carpet.  Embarrassed at his mistake, he tried to clean it up, madly wiping at it before I really noticed what was happening and I stopped him and asked in my deadpan monotone “Are you smearing peanut butter into my bedroom carpet?”  We laughed about it so hard that I was seeing stars.  He’d somehow made crawling around all day in a tiny, dirty bathroom fun.  We’ve survived renovating 2 houses together now.  And the weirdest part is that when we paint together, we have better, more intimate conversations than any other time we’ve ever tried to talk about anything.
I don’t even remember what it was or why I decided to try to kiss him once again.  I can’t remember where we were.  I just remember thinking that I wanted to keep having this kind of fun forever, that I didn’t want to lose it again.   And this time....yes, it felt strangely familiar, but this time.... it felt more like coming home.  Do you know that feeling?  When you’ve been away for years and you finally return to the place where you grew up, to old neighborhoods and old friends?  There’s a mix of memories and exhilaration and comfort all wrapped up together?
We had decided to get married very spur-of-the-moment.  We gave ourselves 5 days to plan it, bought the kids sundresses, and had a minister meet us at a hydrodam in the middle of nowhere,  where we were married wearing jeans and sandals in the middle of spring-run off (the water was raging so hard and fast that you can’t hear a thing from the wedding video tape...)  We wrote our own vows and had only our kids and a very dear friend to witness it.  Then we all drank champagne and tossed everything into the river that the forest had to offer that day, just to see it go raging down through the dam and disappear down river.  I had so much fun that day.  It was totally casual and playful and as spontaneous as you can get with a wedding.
Apparently Alec missed that joke....
The past few years, we’ve had a lot of fun.  There were the big things—a trip west where we went zip-lining, sea-kayaking, hiking in the rainforest out there, rented bikes and rode all over Stanley Park, we even took a sea plane tour. And there was the honeymoon trip west, where we went white water rafting, horseback riding, caving, climbing and more hiking.   
There has also been the daily fun; I finally had someone at my side who loved hiking and rollerblading, cycling and skiing, camping and canoeing as much as I did.  Steve still wanted nothing more than to be a part of the action, to get out and have fun.
It doesn't matter what we're doing, as long as its together.
There has been a lot of quiet fun, too, these past few years.  There are nights when, almost dead asleep, Steve says something totally off-the-wall and we start laughing so hard that we can’t get to sleep after it.  Every single night, without fail, it’s Steve’s job to come up with some tidbit of science that he has to explain to me as I lay in bed with my eyes closed, drifting off to sleep.  He’s talked about tectonic plates, about ice ages, about Saturn’s moons.   Sometimes, it’s those little things that matter the most.  The quiet moments and the routines.
Last week, cranky, tired, stressed, I accused Steve of not doing enough to get us outside, to exercise more.  I suggested that he was getting lazy.  I was complaining about money, too.  I was not being a nice person.  Steve was quiet when I said it.  He stayed quiet for the rest of the drive to work.  He called me later that day and all he said was “I bought you something to play with.”  Hmm.  I wasn’t sure where he was going with that.  Later that night, he showed me what he’d bought.  I’d already told him that we could not afford to do anything elaborate for our anniversary, that we shouldn’t exchange gifts.  So what did he pull out of the bag?  A soccer ball.  “I thought we needed to have a bit more fun.  We’ve been way too busy lately.” 
I paused, and spit out “I don’t like soccer.  I don’t play soccer!” 
But he just smiled.  “NO, you just haven’t played soccer with me.”  He totally understood and always understands me. 
We played soccer for the first time last night.  He’s right.  It’s a lot more fun with him. 
Life is just more fun with him.


  1. I love this post! My husband is just like Steve! Silly and fun and a genuine man. We have our ups and downs but we survived a war togther(Iraq 2005-2006), we have survived the expanding of our brood by 2 (we have 3 total), and we continue to survive the ups and downs of post-deployment struggles (PTSD). We are a perfect match and to think we met in the army! He jokes that he was issued a wife :)

  2. This post made me cry...such a heartfelt, beautiful story...So glad you have found your best friend and partner for life. Wishing you happiness, always!