An Awkward Meeting
by Sirena Van Schaik
A few years after my husband and I had started dating, he was asked by some friends how we had met. For many, it had always seemed strange since I was from British Columbia and he was from Ontario, with over 2500 miles between us and I think it was for that reason that people would ask us. Those questions finally led to our friends saying, “So you stepped off the plane and saw her on the corner?” and him replying, “Yeah, then a light shone down on her and I knew she was the one.”
It sounded pretty romantic but there were two things wrong with it. First, I often wondered if our friends thought I was working on a street corner when James happened upon me. Second, that wasn’t exactly how it happened. In fact, it was nowhere near what happened and I’m pretty sure that no light shone down on me.
The simple fact was that my husband met me at his brother’s house. I was only 16 at the time but I was close friends with his husband’s girlfriend, who had just had a baby and was several years older than I was. That little baby, with his cute little coos and smiles, was the reason why James had come to BC. He wanted to see him and the opportunity to take a vacation was all the reason James needed to land in Vancouver. I knew he was coming, just like I knew his mother and sister had arrived a few days before, but I hadn’t given it much thought. He was older than I was by three years and I wasn’t looking for any relationship even from someone the same age as me, let alone three.
I didn’t have any expectations from the meeting and my only goal for the day his plane touched down was to throw my friend her baby shower. It was going to be a small event with her mother in law, sister in law, my mother and her step mother all attending, along with a few other women. There wasn’t going to be anything spectacular but as my friend raced off with her extended family to pick up James, I turned my mind to making the day as special as I could.
To say that I was inexperienced with baby showers was an understatement but I had done it once before and I was sure I could do it again. Of course, what I had failed to realize was that there was a lot of work and leaving all the running to the last minute was a big mistake. I remember waking up extra early that hot August day and in my rush to get things ready, I simply dressed in my “shower” clothes so I wouldn’t have to go home until after the shower.
So when I headed out, in a nice pair of jeans and a t-shirt, I was cool, fresh and feeling like I could tackle anything. Four hours later, six or seven stores and walking through the blistering heat with packages for over 12 blocks had left me feeling tired, completely warn out and ready to bite the head off of the first person who talked to me. I barely noticed the people on the street, or how they moved around me in a hurried step, since I must have had a very unwelcoming look on my face and my only thought was why. Why did I have to throw the shower? Why did I leave everything until the last minute? Why was I having the baby shower at her stepmother’s house instead of mine? Why hadn’t I asked my mom to drive me around to all the stores instead of meeting her at the shower?
The thoughts of James and his family were far from my mind when I stumbled into my friend’s house, up the six stairs to her hallway and placed all the packages down where she couldn’t see them. I glanced around the room, expecting to see her sister in law, who I was picking up, but didn’t notice anyone until my friend came out of her kitchen. She stopped, her eyes filling with concern as she said, “Sirena, you look awful! You look so tired and hot.”
Now, the better thing would have been if I had said, “Oh geez, thanks!” as I hurried into the bathroom to try to right myself but instead, I said in a very grouchy tone, “Of course I look awful. I’m hot and tired because I have been running my (bleep) (bleep) all over this (bleep) town for your (bleep) baby shower.” Obviously this was not my finest hour and I felt a moment of regret for ruining her day when I noticed that she was trying hard not to laugh.
I stiffened, ready to get into a full fight with her when I heard a sound behind me. Turning ever so slowly, I found not only my future husband standing behind me, a large smile on his face as he tried not to laugh, but his mother and sister, the former looking a little horrified, the latter looking a little shocked.
I felt my cheeks redden and I murmured a polite, “I’m sooo sorry,” before fleeing into another room. I was sure that I could hear them whispering about the rude little girl in the next room and I spent the rest of the day completely mortified.
The shower went off without a hitch and everyone avoided talking about the mouth I had, which would make any sailor proud, but I didn’t see James again until after the shower.
To say that it was love at first sight may be the wrong term but I felt comfortable with James from the moment we met. I enjoyed spending my evenings with him and my friend and I would simply sit and listen to everyone talk. He would walk me home every night and for the two weeks that he stayed, we fell into a routine that felt right. It was like we had always known each other and for one of the fewest times in my life, I was completely at ease. I didn’t worry about how I looked, how I talked or even what I talked about. I was myself and I figured if swearing my head off the first time I met him hadn’t scared him away, then nothing else would.
The strangest thing about those two weeks wasn’t that we spent so much time together, it was simply that we simply fell into the routine of good friends. No summer or vacation relationship blossomed between us and the day he left, I figured that would be the end. I might see him again but I might not.
If I said it was the hardest goodbyes I had ever made it would be an understatement. He quietly placed his bags near the door and said that he hoped he would see me again. We exchanged all the pleasantries expected and didn’t even hug when he walked out the door. My heart actually hurt when he left and a knot formed in my throat. I chided myself for such silly thoughts but I couldn’t help the melancholy that hit for the next few days after he left.
I went on with my life, fall was near and I had school to look forward to but a few months after James left, his brother told me that James was thinking about coming back to live in Vancouver. I was shocked and hopeful. I wanted to believe that he was moving down to be closer to me but I wasn’t sure so I remained rather non-committal about the whole move. A few short months later, James was living in British Columbia and we have been together since.
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