Natalie Zed: Defying Gravity

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

You've Been Warned

This is going to be a gooey one. Batten down the hatches.

In September 2002, I was in the thrid year of my undergrad at the University of Windsor. I was also working in a bank, a soul-destoying institution with migraine-inducing flourescent lighting and the customer service principles of the Spanish Inquisition. Two things kept me sane at this job: being a complete smartass with access to a 'waive fee' button, and Courtney. Courtney and I would stand at wickets next to each other and bitch through our days. Her Customer Face was a blank, bovine expression of complete vacancy that just cracked me up, whereas my Persona was Tweety McSunshine. We'd crack each other up all day and somehow make it thrugh eight hours.

It was in September that I noticed Courtney begin to get noticeably happier. Knowing her to be cut from the same cloth as I was, that of Cynical Work-Hating Fiend-Girl, I questioned the change. She told me she'd started going swing dancing, and told me I should come with her. I knew I would be very bad, and I went anyway. Any excuse to get drunk and make a complete fool of myself on a dance floor.

So I started dancing, and was indeed very bad. But everyone was very nice and eager to help me learn and I soon knew enough to muddle through. It was my third or fourth night out when Courtney suddenly became all a-twitter: Ryan, a chainsmoking readhead and object of her affections, had just arrived, along with his two roommates. I looked over, intending to tease her for her taste for crass men with shit-eating grins, and saw him.

He was a thin man with an olive complexion, wearing dress pants and a white shirt, suspenders, and a fedora. He had wire rimmed glasses. His eyes were brown, but had a brightness to them that I'd learn later was a faint greenish-gold quality that was really only visible in the sun. Courtney knew something was up. I was actually being quiet.

It was Julia who introduced us. She'd been in a couple of musicals with Ed and a few classes with me. I shook his hand and discovered his engineering ring. I am sure I tried to seem very intelligent and failed miserably. He still smiled and tried to help alleviate a cramp in my hand with a miniatiure massage. He smelled like cologne and cinnamon and shaving cream.

We soon discovered that Wednesday nights, swing nights at The Loop (the bar that let the dancers take over), Ed had a class that ended at 6:50pm and I had one that began at 7pm. I think I attended that class exactly twice (midterm and final exam) after I met him, as it seeme there was always a coffee or dinner or conversation that simply Had To Take Place regardless of that particular historical option.

We had our First Actual Date, which neither of us admitted it was at the time due to the fact I was a Bad Person and Seeing Someone Else At The Time, at a french restaurant called La Cuisine. We had chicken in a mustard sauce and chocolate/banana/ice cream crepes. It might have been the chocolate, or the fact this restaurant smelled like heaven ought to smell, but I sat across a table from this man and felt a cynical, dried up place in my heart suddenly fill up. I knew, unequivocally, that I was in Serious Trouble.

I can only be thankful now that Ed looked across from the other side of that table at a skinny girl with no boobs and too much hair and thought he might be in Serious Trouble too. He found himself in enough trouble, in fact, that he decided to stick around through The Break-Up of Mythic Proportions (I often refer to it as my Divorce to communicate the amount of skin I lost in the tearing off of that particular bandage). He stuck around through a conversation with my parents that began: "Hi mom and dad; though I am only nineteen, I'd like you to meet my 28-year-old boyfriend! teehee!" He stuck around when I was applying to graduate school and losing my mind about moving away, and then when I was in Calgary and miserably lonely and calling him to scream complete nonsense at him for hours at a time. He finally MOVED TO CALGARY, and then stuck around even though it was -40 for his first THREE SOLID WEEKS in the city.

May 8th, 2005, on our way home from getting some groceries, Ed and I had a Conversation. We talked about getting married, what it would mean, how much work would actually be involved. I was firmly of the mind that if there was a way we could elope (or near enough to it) and still have my mother speak to me, that was the way to go. He was quiet for the rest of the busride home. I was putting away some veggies when he took my hands, led me over to the sofa, and said that he'd been thinking. That his reservations really suddenly seemed much more smoke and mirrors than valid points. And that, since we were going home that July anyway, why didn't we see if we could shanghai most of the people in our families for a day and do it. July 29th, we were married. My mother, bless her heart, baked my cake and made my flowers, and still speaks to me all the time.

On August 18th, Ed turned 32. We had a great steak dinner and saw Snakes on a Plane. Most importantly, for me, is that we celebrated the birth of my favourite person in the world.

Ed has often told me that he doesn't understand the point of birthdays, all the hullabaloo just because someone is one year older. However, since I was graced with the luck to have gone dancing on a particular night and met someone who smells so great and can code so well, I think I understand. 32 years ago, a very little baby was born. He soon had golden ringlets and a great smile and obnoxiously good pronunciation. That day, a little person came into the world who had grown up to make me impossibly, deleriously happy.

32 years ago, my partner was born. I'll raise glasses to that miracle for the rest of my life.
Natalie Zed updated @ 11:25 a.m.!!