A few months ago, I entered a contest through the newspaper. It was looking for stories about how folks met their partners. I thought to myself, you know, James and I have a pretty unique story so, why not? I wrote the following in about 30 minutes. I didn’t win the big prize, but I was a runner-up! I was pretty excited. I figured, it’s an alright story so why not share it? Hope you enjoy.
James and I have been together for five years – I know that’s not a long time, but it’s how we got together, and all the things that had to happen along the way, that’s really special.
I was born in the small community of Summerside P.E.I – perhaps you’ve heard of it. It’s the second largest city on the Island, boasting a little over 13,000 citizens (according to Wikipedia). Summerside is where our story begins. Click here to learn more about PEI.
In 1979, my father Jean, a young Quebecer who grew up as a farmer’s son, decided to fly the coop, taking the big leap to “English Canada”. Dad’s ticket out was in the form of a Canadian Air Force uniform. He trained to become a member and was eventually posted to Summerside. To this day, dad is the only member of his immediate family who has left the motherland, permanently. This is absolutely significant for James and my story, as it was consequential to my very existence!
My mum, Margaret, meanwhile, was working as a nurse and catching up with family and friends after a road trip out West. (Funny to note that both my parents had dreamed of traveling out West to see the mountains and did so around the same time – my dad with a couple of friends and my mum with nothing but a bag of clothes and her guitar.)
On the fateful night of their first meeting, my dad was heading to the bar to be introduced to one of his friend’s eligible bachelorettes. But dad only had eyes for the wild and beautiful blond who would eventually become his wife.
Margaret grew up in Ontario and she had always told said she would never marry a Frenchman or military man, but her dream hubby would surely be her best friend. Friendship trumped dad’s unchangeable attributes and they were married in 1981, soon after the arrival of my brother, Jonathan.
In 1987, I came into the world, so dark and skinny, my parents wondered if there had been a mix-up. As my personality soon evolved, with a healthy mix of my mom’s stubbornness and my father’s nerdiness, all doubts were soon abolished.
In 1989, my parents did the most amazing and beautiful thing of their lives. They adopted the youngest member of our family, Nicolas. Nicolas was given up at birth and my mum was his faithful nurse from that first day. She fell in love with him immediately and when she asked my father what he thought about having another kid, he said, “sure!” It still amazes me how easy it was for them to make such a huge decision – love really knows no bounds.
A little later that same year, across the Atlantic ocean, a wild kid came screaming into the world. In Rastatt, Deutshland, James was born to Virginia and Don. And when I say he was screaming, I mean, that’s pretty much all he did. The first video of my beloved James is about 5 minutes of him, screaming – non-stop. His poor Nanny had flown from Nova Scotia, Canada to meet him (her only son’s first-born) and James just wailed the entire time she held him!
James’ dad, Don, was an Air Force man like my dad. He had grown up in Nova Scotia, accustomed to his father’s long trips away with the Navy. When he was old enough, he enlisted in the hopes of following in his father’s footsteps. With an electronic engineering diploma under his belt, the recruiting officer suggested he take a trade with the Air Force instead of the Navy. That’s what he did and before he knew it, he was on a plane to Germany, leaving the only life he’d known behind to live in a country/continent he’d never even visited!
James’ first words were German. He was blond, brown-eyed and absolutely wild. Nearly every video of him from that time shows him running away from his parents or screaming because he wasn’t getting his way (I hesitate to say that he’s changed 😉 ).
When James was two, Don was posted back to Canada – to Cold Lake, Alberta. Now it was Virginia’s turn to leave her world behind. Luckily, a few of her sisters had also married Canadian military men so she was able to brave the unknown in a lot of good company.
That was 1993. It happened to be the same year that my family, who had been living in Quebec for the previous two years, was packing up for a similar trip – you see, my dad had also been posted to Cold Lake.
For ten years, our families lived, learned and loved in Alberta. We went to hockey games, visited to Rocky Mountains, dug for fossils in Drumheller and endured some of the coldest winters of our lives (-35 was not a rarity!) James and I skateboarded at the same skate park, frequented the same outdoor rinks and even lived in the same neighborhoods. At one point, I was attending Brownies directly across the street from his house. Ten years of attending family days and carnivals on base and we never crossed paths (that we know of). Our fathers however, worked for the same squadron and our moms even knew each other from social events. But Jim and I remained unknown.
In 2003, my dad broke the news that he had received a promotion and would be moving us back East to Greenwood, Nova Scotia. That same summer, Don had received a promotion and was driving across the country with James to their new home. James’ mother and baby sister, had already moved back to Germany at that point, and although it was the hardest time of his life, he looked forward to being close to his Nanny and extended family that still lived there.
I was devastated about that move. I had two years left of high school, I was dating a sweet guy and I had a great group of friends. Reflecting back, I know it was absolutely for the best, but it was definitely hard.
As I’m sure anyone can relate, being the “new kid” in high school is absolutely terrifying as teenagers are not the friendliest breed of human. On our first day of school, my brother Nicolas, who, at the time, was just a BIT shy, gravitated toward a few kids who were also new. He met three fellas who had been posted to Greenwood from military bases in Canada – and one of them was James.
For the next two years, Nic, James and their pose did everything together. They were not easy on their parents – getting in trouble often for really foolish things.
I had met James and hung around with him a few times through high school. He was my brother’s friend and was an old classmate of the dude I was dating at the time. Our interactions although infrequent were usually the same – I would say anything at all and he would find a way to contradict it or make fun of me. He was quite the charmer.
After high school, I went straight to university nearly dropping out of my program in the first year. I disliked most everything about it and really struggled to find my place. By my second year, with a huge INCOMPLETE mark on my docket for the absolute worst co-op placement in the history of the Public Relations program, I was more than prepared to walk away. If I had, I can’t be sure where I would be today…
After a few persuasive and inspirational chats with one of my favourite profs, my family and friends, I decided to give the program another go.
From that point on, things began to fall into place. I completed a very successful co-op placement with Veterans Affairs and my grades shot up. I then left for Ottawa to complete another work term with the federal government and although I didn’t gain much practical on-the-job experience, I had an amazing time. Hockey games, countless nights out and road trips galore – I came back with a lot of memories and very little funds.
It was soon after my return that Jim and I had our first real hangout. My friend that I had lived with in Ottawa had connected me with a group of guy friends she knew to be die-hard Habs fans like me. I was a bit nervous to hang out with four guys I’d never met so of course, I invited my 6’3”, 200 lb brother along. Nicolas said he would definitely come but would it be ok if he brought James as well? I rolled my eyes and sighed – fine, I guess.
Somehow, James and I ended up sitting beside each other and I can tell you that I didn’t really get to know any of the guys my friend had arranged for me to meet – or catch much of the hockey game. James and I started to chat and we haven’t stopped since. We quickly learned that we loved a lot of the same things – history, books, movies – all similar! It was mind-boggling. Our only topic of contention was our beloved hockey teams. I have been a fan of the bleu, blanc, rouge for my entire hockey-watching life and James, of course, bled blue – a Toronto fan to the end.
After that night, we hung out more and more. And it wasn’t only friendship that developed between James and I; there was something really beautiful blossoming between the three of us. Our first months as a crew, we would get together nearly every weekend and take road trips around Nova Scotia. I would pack sandwiches, Nic would drive and provide the tunes and James, well he was there for comic relief! 🙂
Although Nic found it a bit hard when James and I started to date, he later told me that he was happy about the pairing since could attest that James was a really great guy and didn’t expect him to hurt me. I found this absolutely sweet and I agreed – and I still do.
James and I traveled nearly 20,000 kilometres before becoming a couple. Five years later, we’ve built a great life and do our travel side-by-side. We’ve been through parts of Canada visiting Charlottetown, Moncton and St. John’s (both our first time to Newfoundland), Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. We’ve gone overseas visiting his family in Germany and traveling to France and Belgium. We made a mutual dream come true this past summer, visiting Scotland and Ireland for the first time.
Aside from traveling, we bought a house together last year and the crowning jewel of our relationship came in the form of Bear, our 1-year-old husky-lab mix.
James is a wonderful person – he’s intelligent, kind and super hilarious. We have so much fun together and there’s a healthy amount of silly in our every day. I can talk to him about most anything and he’s been supportive through my toughest and proudest moments. We’re both stubborn people so disagreements certainly happen, but we always seem to figure it out because in the end, we both want what’s best for each other.
My mum told me when I was little that if I decide to spend the rest of my life with someone, they should be my best friend. I’m happy to report that I’ve found him!
Through the many geographic displacements of our families, James and I came together and every day, I’m thankful for that.
James – my best friend to the end. Love ya, nerd. xxx
If our parents hadn’t been so open to change, so many things would be different about our lives. In fact, James and I wouldn’t even exist!
I hope you enjoyed walking down our memory lane and that your day is filled with happiness, and maybe a bit of change too. 🙂
*******Change is good, Donkey*******