Stand by your maaaaannnnn….

My guy.

I’m just so darn taken with my man! He’s off at a rehearsal now, so I don’t mind mushing all over the place.

I think I’ll go back to the beginning for this one…

For those who might have heard the rumor, yes we did meet — kinda — on the internet. Last spring, I was bored bored bored after my BF/MoH Rita moved back to the Okanagen, so I joined a free dating website on a lark (mostly, frankly, to laugh at the funny profiles). Turns out, there was an online forum/message board thing, where I met a bunch of very super people, who formed a group who did a bunch of stuff together. Mostly single, though occasionally paired up, we went to barbeques, concerts, camping and — Best Time Ever — whitewater rafting.

I really wasn’t interested in dating anyone. I was in my last year of school, and I had no idea where I’d be moving to at the end of the year. All I was sure of was that I didn’t want to stay in Vancouver, and I didn’t want to feel tied to the city by the emotional bonds of a relationship.

In the summer, I had noticed, in passing, the profile of a man from Gibsons who seemed clever and nice and liked a lot of the same things as me. I put him on my favorites list (for a lark) and had a fun reparte in the ‘word association’ thread on the forum late one night with him. Still, I didn’t want to date anyone, so I didn’t contact him.

Fast forward to the week of the BC Teacher’s Strike in October 2006. I was attempting to respond reasonably to the rash of anti-teacher vitriol that was in a thread on the forums with some success (ok, none). Out of the blue comes an email from “wandercoast” thanking me for my sense and perspective in that particular thread. I responded to the email, he responded back; a few minutes later we were on MSN chatting briefly. Steve mentioned that he was interested in meeting some of the people he had chatted to on the forums; I told him there was a bunch of people going bowling that Friday. Turns out, Steve was coming in to town for his mum’s birthday that weekend, so it was easy enough to come in a day early and see these crazies in person.

The day of the bowling, I was off school in the afternoon and spent the day moving my furniture from one bedroom to the other. By nine pm I was hot, sweaty, tired and more than a little cranky from having to take my bed apart with a hammer, instead of the more customary screwdriver. I considered not going bowling (I hate bowling) but there were people — this guy Steve among them — who I had told I would be there. One quick shower, jeans & sneakers later, I was out the door.

I got to the bowling lanes just before ten pm. I was greeted by friends and sat down beside an empty chair. It seemed like, oh, a second later that this guy sits down next to me, introduces himself as Steve, and asks in a very cheeky manner, “so do you REALLY hike and camp?” Ordinarily, I would have told this stranger exactly where to get off the bus, but instead I laughed and said I did.

The next five hours are a bit of a blur, but we talked for just about all of them, and I remember liking him very much, and hoping he liked me too. There was a brief hiatus driving to the pub after bowling, when he got a ride with someone else, but I was so pleased when he sat down next to me on a brick wall at the pub. We were still talking when the pub closed at three am, and I drove him to John & Gayle’s house in Delta. I had been noticing that he had been touching my knee in the pub, and giving off ‘interested’ body language, so I found myself hoping he might even kiss me goodnight (shocking, really, as I don’t usually warm up to people so fast).

When we reached his parents’ house, I stopped the car all optomistic… and he patted me on the shoulder, said goodnight, and booked it out of my car as fast as he could.

(I suspected I had read the situation wrong, but turns out he really liked me too, and didn’t want to scare me off by being all forward — silly boy!)

I was very sad (woe!) but as we had talked in general terms about hiking some weekend, I still thought I might see him again. I sent him an email on Saturday to make a suggestion about hiking… he sent me one back… we talked by MSN or phone for three hours a night all week. By Tuesday night he was coming to visit me for the weekend; by Thursday night we were in a fully-fledged relationship.

When I picked Steve up from the ferry on that stormy Friday night (the ferry was almost two hours late), he rushed across the parking lot to see me and gave me a huge hug. He didn’t want our first kiss to be in the BC Ferries parking lot, so he made me drive us (holding rain-wet hands in the car) up to the lookout on Cypress, overlooking the lights of Vancouver for our first kiss…

At the end of the first weekend, we hiked up the Lynn Creek loop in the rain, soaked and holding hands, and irrevocably in love. Instead of a relationship that tied me to Vancouver, Steve’s strings gently pulled me to the Sunshine Coast, where I always wanted to be and didn’t know it. We spent every weekend together, ten days at Christmas (at which time we decided to live together) and I moved to Gibsons in February, just over three months after our first meeting.

Here is a picture I took of Steve taking pictures of the snow during our Christmas break in the Kootenays:

It is now just over nine months since that fateful bowling adventure, and we are still madly in love, newly engaged to be married, and constantly grateful for the most fragile of circumstances that brought us together.

Steve had, the day before we met, ended a very brief relationship with a woman on the mainland, and had resolved not to date off the Sunshine Coast again as the commuting was just too difficult. What if he had stuck to that resolve? He could have not sent me an email about the strike, or could have not wanted to come bowling (he hates bowling!), or the teachers might not have striked at all. What if I had gotten to the bowling alley fifteen minutes later? He might have gone. What if I didn’t go at all?

I hate to think of universes in which we might not have met.

I adore him.
He adores me.
He accepts me exactly as I am — better yet, he loves me exactly as I am, flaws and all.
He is so smart I have to work to keep up with him.
He calls me on it when I’m being snarky.
He encourages me in everything I do (except the snark).
He is so crazy talented (we have a mutual admiration club with a membership of two) that it takes my breath away.
His hugs are the best place to be. Ever.

Ah well. And he’s at rehearsal.

So, on a much lighter and sillier note:

(heehee)

Eeek?

I got an email today from a wedding-planning website I signed up on called the Knot.

It tells me that I have 299 days left and 157 things to do.

Eeek!

Steve tells me he is resigned to 153 of those things being done in the month before the wedding. Thank goodness for realistic fiances.

banditos!

So, Steve & I get back from Mike & Laura’s place up in Halfmoon Bay (where we had a wonderful 24 hour holiday of hot dogs, triplets & swimming in the ocean) to find the cat food bin, overturned, by the front door.

Ordinarily the cat food lives in a shut cabinet in the living room. The cats don’t have the thumb power to open the cabinet or open the cat food bin, so that means that the pair of wildly cute juvenile raccoons that have been eating the cherries on the tree next door have developed a taste for cat food. This explains why Bean’s dish is always empty, and also explains the time last week the cat food was in the hallway, also open. Poor Angel got blamed for that particular incident, though I noticed at the time that she didn’t look quite guilty enough to have done the deed herself.

Having righted the cat food bin and put it where it belongs, I asked Steve if he noticed a particularily animal smell… we went into the bathroom to find a giant turd in the bathtub and pawprints on the toilet seat — we definitely have raccoons! After cleaning up, we considered ourselves lucky: had they not pooped in the tub, or been so diligent about hand (ok, paw) washing, OR, if we had left the window by the front door open (like we usually do), we wouldn’t have a cat food bin or cat food at all.

Steve figures they got it to the front door, saw the window wasn’t open, and had an “oh, crap” moment when they realized they couldn’t get it out of the house, then decided to open it up and chow down right there. Keep the eye on the prize, banditos!

Tomorrow I’m buying a child/raccoon-proof latch for the cabinet where we keep the cat food.

In other news, Findlayson’s resized my ring perfectly, and it looks marvelous. It’s all sparkly and shiny, especially while swimming.

Here it is on:

Steve asking me every four minutes if I still had it on got a little tiring, I have to admit. I understand it’s the first jewellery he’s bought, so he’s a little paranoid about it’s safety, but still. I took it off to show him my new ring tan-line, and you should have seen his face: “where IS IT?!”

We received an amazing bouquet from Mike & Laura — Mike is Steve’s older brother, and has finally been asked to be Best Man. They are the parents of the triplets, Andy, Sam & Justin. It’s ok — multiples run on LAURA’S side of the family.

Here is the gorgeous bouquet:

We also received a card from my mum & dad, Tracy & Rod, which was quite a relief. They’ve always purported to like Steve very much, so not hearing from them after the initial announcement was a bit worrying. Mind you, the circumstances of the announcement left a little to be desired. I had left a very simple message on the machine on the Sunday morning asking for a call back. My mother, inexplicably, decides to call back during the last 15 minutes of the World Cup final. The conversation went something like this:

Me: “So, Steve asked me to marry him this morning.”
Tracy: “Oh, that’s wonderful, Lorien. I’m so pleased for OH GOOD BALL!”
Me: “Um, yeah. So, the wedding is going to be next May, May 19th. I’m sorry you’ll have to miss May Days.”
Tracy: “That’s ok, a wedding is more important than May Days. There’ll always be another May OH MY GOD HE JUST HEADBUTTED THAT GUY!”
Me: “Um, yeah. So, it’ll be down here…”
Tracy: “ZIDANE GOT CARDED! IT’S A RED CARD!”

Turns out they were just embarassed about not making more of a fuss… it’s really ok, as I’ve known about this soccer-addiction for a long time. My father would (and does) wake up at 2am on a Saturday to watch Manchester United games live. Then, instead of going to bed like a sensible person, he would go to the computer to read the blow-by-blow on the internet… of the game he just watched! So long as they’re happy about it, I don’t care that they were distracted by ‘the beautiful game’.

Mind you, for the past two weeks, I’ve been expecting a call from them along the lines of “so… did we hear you right? engaged?”

Steve’s parents, John & Gayle, were tracked down the night of the engagement somewhere in… well, I don’t even know. Maine? They went on a roadtrip for a cousin’s wedding and ended up at Steve’s grandmother’s house to dispose of the effects etc. as she’s now in assisted living. We had NO idea where they’d be, so Steve just picked a random relative to call and lo! there they were. Asleep, but woken up for the news. They return to Delta tonight, so Steve & are heading over to the mainland this weekend. We’ll go to Illuminaries, do our last MEC shop for the West Coast Trail (which is in less than a month! yay!) and Steve’s mum & I will get to talk weddings ’till our tongues drop off… poor Steve.

All in all, it has been a very satisfactory first few weeks being newly engaged. I’ve listened to some great music (Duttons played SOPA and, impromptu-ly, jammed on the porch of the Gumboot during the fiddle camp), watched a Sea Cavalcade Parade and fireworks, dressed like a pirate to the office for a week (arrrr, for Sea Cavalcade maties) and had, generally, a wonderful time.

I consider myself quite blessed, actually, to live in such a place, with such a man, and with such supportive and genuine friends and family. Rita and I have had some lovely chats, I’ve talked to Jody & Julia in South Africa, received emails from all kinds of friends… and tonight Steve and I have been asked to attend an engagement dinner to be hosted by Susanne & Ray. Even the raccoons are relatively good neighbours.

Lucky us!