The first time I saw him, I had just completed a 1.5 hour bus and subway ride from Newmarket to my first day on the job as a camera salesperson in a retail shop in northern Toronto. I was 20 minutes early and sat in the quiet mall, reading my book. A young man arrived to unlock the sliding partition and disappeared behind the counter.
I got up and and peered through the slats of the partition until he re-emerged from the small rear office. "Excuse me, I'm starting here today," I announced.
He peered at me through his oversized glasses and I noticed his big-ass brown eyes. "Finally! They decided to hire somebody!" He let me in and showed me around. I knew my way around a camera store since I'd worked for the same company at another location. This was just a temporary assignment until my local store had an opening.
He was the assistant manager, and I quickly made friends with him and my other fellow workers. Within a couple of months, we were a tight group and a crack team in the store.
He had a girlfriend, but the relationship seemed a little rocky. Just before Christmas I was sorting lens filters in a drawer and casually asked one of the girls, "So... is he going to the company Christmas party with her?"
She said, "Oh, didn't you know? They broke up last week."
I grinned at the filters. "Oh... that's too bad."
During the company shindig, we started to talk about horses. I mentioned I liked to ride, and he said, "We should go trail riding sometime."
He mentioned a stable to the east of the city. We made arrangements to meet up at the bus stop (he didn't have a car) and went riding on a cold, clear day. It wasn't a date, just a couple of friends enjoying a winter activity.
It wasn't long before a blizzard moved in, and the guide led us back to the barn, slipping and sliding on ice patches covered with powdered snow. We went back to the bus stop and the wind and snow battered us. The stop lacked a shelter, so we stood withour backs to the wind and huddled for warmth until an old model car with pom-poms all around the windows rolled to a stop beside us. The kind man gave us a ride to the closest stop with a glass bus shelter.
Our second non-date was closing time on New Years Eve. I was scheduled to catch an overnight train to Cochrane, a town in northern Ontario to visit my sister and her husband. There was enough time to catch a bite before boarding the subway to Union Station, so we decided to grab some dinner before he went home to his parents' house.
Several restaurants in the area were already booked, but we found a table at a little pub on Yonge Street. We both noticed we mixed our peas with our potatoes and laughed. The waiter gave us free champagne and we toasted the arrival of 1982.
I paid for my portion and accepted a little peck on the cheek, then boarded the Yonge subway south while he hopped on the Bloor Street West train. Again, it wasn't a date.
We went out as a group with our co-workers to movies and dinners for the next few months. As springtime thawed the ice on the sidewalks, we gathered at a little restaurant with a second floor lined with bookshelves.
When the other couple left to visit the facilities, he leaned toward me and said, "This has been a long time coming," and he kissed me.
When he visited me in Newmarket, he had to take a city bus, then the subway and then a regional bus, then walk up my street. I often waited at the top of the hill and my heart gave a little jump when I saw his familiar silhouette.
We married in 1984. Our wedding was modest -- Dad provided the catering and I made my own multi-tiered banana wedding cake. It was ugly as Hell but delicious. We danced to Blue Danube and then enjoyed all the 80s dance tunes.
Along with the arrival of two children and lots of tears and laughter, we skidded through the years.
Today is our 25th Anniversary. As long as the laughter outnumbers the tears, we'll cruise together far into the future.
(I'd show you a picture but I can't find the damn photo album!)