From the time I discovered boys (about when I came to Canada, so, say, grade 2?) I have loved boys. I have loved how reckless they are, loved their short hair, their more-often-than-not cheekiness, their stupid jokes. I have loved that they don’t care how they dress, how they can look stunning in photographs without any additives, unlike women, who hide our faces under layers of colour. I loved that they loved running because up till a certain point, I too loved to run. I loved to make my legs go automatic until my body runs past them in a heap of exhaustion. Like they’re winding down from the exhilaration of the chase. I loved the chase of the boys.
I was always the girl at recess who had a crush, and would torture them mercilessly until I confessed my feelings to them, more likely in a note or card. But I was never the pretty girl in class, just the bold one. I was always taller than the boys. I never had hair like the pretty, ballet/gymnastic/dance girls nor the body. I was rough and accented and honest. And I wanted to find love in grade 5 so badly that I would daydream about it. I would daydream about boys, what it would feel like to kiss them, how I would feel when they first told me they loved me, and I’ve thought of so many proposals that I’ve lost count. Every boy I loved I could picture a future with, even in grade 6, when that stupid bitch told him I liked him. I could picture babies and airplanes and houses in Australia. I was that girl.
I was so nervous about my first “real French kiss” that I wrote a diary entry about it. I still have it somewhere, and it is beyond embarrassing. I’m sure the phrase “what do I do with my tongue” came up. But the point is that I gave it thought. A lot of thought. I would read stories for the romance. Sci fi, fantasy, historical fiction – if it didn’t have romance it didn’t interest me. Until I hit Anne of Green Gables. The only romance in that book came very near the end, and disappointing because it held no gestures that I had come to expect of courtiers or damsels. Alas, that is what really threw me into reading. Because the story of Anne was more than enough to keep me going through the book, even though I kept expecting every male character to spontaneously become her love interest.
My point is that I’ve been waiting a long and drawn out lifetime for the love of it to arrive. I’ve pictured being the perfect woman, the perfect wife, the perfect girlfriend. Sometimes I act more “female” than I really am, just because it plays into my conceptions. Sometimes I overreact or get jealous because it is expected of me by me. I honestly don’t care if that sounds silly, because I think that every person, be it man or woman, is allowed to act a little silly and dramatic from time to time. I am old fashioned, in that seeing a man cry either means he’s with you for the long run or he’s not serious about the relationship. The men in my life have always been solid, rational men. Not of whimsy and passion, but of plans and goals. That is what I am used to. It is what I was brought up with. Not men who run, but men who walk steadfastly.
And of course, the person I least expected was you.
What I least expected was a black haired brown eyed (although I should have guessed from my earlier tastes) vagabond iconoclast. What I least expected was a religiously thrice removed agnostic believer. What I least expected is a man to really, truly love me for my writing and my lack of personal culture and my whining necessity for cold cuts and good food. What I least expected is a guy that I would still love chasing after 2 years of consistent race tracks. I dreamed of special languages that we would make up, of trips we would take, of problems we would conquer. “For I have known them all already, known them all: – Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, Have measured out my life in coffee spoons,”
So how should I presume? I have created playlists in your name, lots of lyrics that jumped out at me and made me think of you, “they made a statue of us.” “Miles from where you are, I lay down on the cold ground, I pray that something picks me up, and lays me down in your, warm arms.” “We’d share each other like an island, until, exhausted, close our eyelids.”
What I least expected was to find something worth keeping, because from nothing else that life has taught me, your life rarely lives up to the vivid exposures of your dreams. And while it may not be all hot sex and out of breath chases, it is something. It is something rare and sequential. We’ve made a lot of mistakes. But we are lucky if for nothing else than for this. I am lucky. You are not my storybook romance. You are not my storybook romance. You are not my storybook romance.
But this is so much better.
I am all panting and out of breath for keeping up with you. You make me run harder.