The Days Before Tomorrow … Pt 2

“The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men,
Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!” – Scottish Poet, Robert Burns

“You always hurt the one you love
The one you shouldn’t hurt at all
You always take the sweetest rose
And crush it till the petals fall” – Songwriter Alan Roberts, Sung by Peggy Lee

So there was the impasse.  She didn’t want to leave.  She didn’t want to leave ME.

As we walked together after that moment, she couldn’t imagine life without my irregular notes in her door, or the awkward silences as we both danced around our feelings all of those wasted years.  I couldn’t imagine the nights not spent talking on the phone as the lightning roared and the heavens thundered.  Just the way she would grin silently as classical played on into the air, or the scent of her hair.  So many things I realized I would miss.

The following day, I secretly skipped class and went to talk to her mom.  She had long known about our almost secret relationship, and was always encouraging me to take it to the next step.  In her eyes, her daughter had a boy who truly cared for her, was kind, considerate and sincere, but more importantly, one who cared enough for her girl to give up his world.  And I did, so the plans proceeded.

I made myself less available day after day, and the notes became shorter and shorter.  Comments on life and love, spirit and music on the page evolved into simple gossip and banter about my “brothers”, inane school events and complaints about the Quebec government.  I tried to portray a callous, unfeeling Terry who was unworthy of anyone.  I ceased to walk over to meet her in the mornings, and would “forget” about our rare special evenings in exchange for nights of popcorn and movies alone or with my best friends.  The campaign, I knew would be long and hard, and I was going insane in thought.  My spies in her midst, her mother and father would continue to argue and rant on their end to ensure her departure and feed me information.  It wasn’t very successful, as she saw through the whole ploy with laser like accuracy.  Worse, she tracked me down at my favorite McDonald’s (well, yes, I wasn’t much of a foodie admittedly back then), sat down, told me to quit it, and kissed me on the cheek.

Time was running short, and I really didn’t know what else I could do.  The problem with having written hundreds of pages of my feelings and thoughts to her, is that she knew me fundamentally deeper than any person alive.  Deadlines on events that deal with life situations weren’t really something I was particularly good at, especially when considering  it was with one who loved me so well.  So I went back to her parents and we talked one more time. In the end, we all agreed, there was only one action left to do… and it’s one that has always scarred and shamed me in so many ways.

The day we broke up was not a particularly exceptional day, but it’s one I will always recall.  For those who know me, I have cherished in my heart the code of Chivalry and the pursuit of knightly honor to be my most highest belief.  In fact, that dedication was always greater than what I once believed as an evangelized youth, my comic books, movies and geekdom highlights.   As the days counted down to the final cut off to accepting the scholarship came close, all I could think was acts of desperation.  My sweet girl  had it in her mind that she wasn’t leaving and was just going to wait and work a bit until a time would come when we both could leave and excel.  But in the meantime, the days had become a monotonous routine, where we would meet, then argue about the lack of time left, then kiss, then allow her to enrapture me with the joy of her presence and then argue again, and then have her remind me that I’ll be forced to quit it pretty soon so I might as well stop there and then, and the day would progress as it would.  This time, I added a few more factors… the presence of her parents and a deliberate dedication to be ugly, to be angry and to be evil in the basest manner possible.

I won’t go through the full details, but the ambush was successful in raising the tension.  Voices were loud and angry as we were pleading and begging, and then (and with prior secret approval) accusations about me would be made and so much more.  But in the end, as it all came to a head, I did the one thing I didn’t want to do but realized was the only thing I could do to turn her passion away… I raised my hand, and in front of her family, shoved her hard onto the floor and started the first move to a follow up action.  Her mother knew I might had to do that.  Her father didn’t… and with that shove, the air in the room stood still.

I was thrown out by her dad, and justly so.  He didn’t punch me, but I honestly hoped he would.  Since growing out of elementary, I had never raised a hand in anger against a woman ever, and I couldn’t believe I actually did.  She looked out at me from her living room window, stunned, and angry.  She was always strong willed, but with that one act, I shattered every image and belief she had in me.  And as dearly as I wanted to run back in to hold her, to apologize and beg forgiveness, the anger of her father had put an end to that.

She called. I didn’t answer. I wrote no notes. I never walked with her again. Camelot had fallen, and to free her, I shattered both our hearts.  And in those months to come, we had no more contact no matter how much we both wanted it.

Here is where fate decided to give me a good s***kicking for my audacity to strike a woman.  In those months, I got word from her mom about how depressed she was, and how all our efforts might go to naught if she dropped out instead.  I had done my job too well.  But to tell her that I attacked her to force her to go to school and it was orchestrated??  I foresaw a pretty angry woman getting off a plane, and then throttling her family, and then me.  So what to do, what to do … when inspiration hit.  Maybe if I had a friend show her around, cheer her up, maybe she’ll improve and I even knew who to befriend her.  He was an old friend of mine from childhood, who moved to that city long ago but we still kept in touch.  Friendly, outgoing, emphatic and simply a nice guy, I asked him to see if he could look her up and gave him the full story on the event that drove her off so he had some reference.  That wasn’t a great idea in hindsight.

Months more went by, and as the days passed, while I missed the regular notes and her presence, I still did my best to go on.  The first summer was the hardest or so I thought.  When lightning struck, I looked up and closed my eyes trying to imagine her near me, letting the sound of thunder rumble through my body.  I still wrote, but this time it was notes to no one.  And as the notes piled, the amount slowed down to a smaller flow, and then a trickle, and then none.

It was in August that I got a call.  My buddy who I had asked to keep an eye on her was in town.  Considering that I really owed him one, I wanted to hear everything, but more importantly, offer some payback for a favour I never could really ever repay… or so I thought.  So feeling nostalgic, guilty and 100s of other feelings, I met him at le Biftheque for a good ol’ fashion steak dinner.

I always loved that restaurant.  The old classic wood and barn look that hasn’t changed in decades.  The dim lighting and the chuckwagon red and white table clothes.  The fresh bread baking all the time, filling the rooms with the scent of utter joy and pleasure.  And most importantly, the booths, where I walked over to meet him… and HER.  My sins had come to roost.

Awkward really doesn’t even begin to explain the next few hours.  I was stunned, guilty, lovelorn, angry, sad, and probably everything else you could expect.  Honestly, if I had the chance to put my fist through the wall, I probably would have gladly.

As the evening progressed, I barely heard anything they were telling me to bring me up to speed.  Eating was probably the last thing on my mind, but I focused as best I could to ignore the banter… until the last few words.  While he was keeping her company to cheer her up, they fell in love.  And with me as a lesson for the follies of not making a final decision, they decided to get married as soon as possible and flew back to Montreal to ask for my permission.

You know, they say the road to hell is paved in good intentions?  It definately is.  In my “good-ness”, I was the architect of this Titanic, but now looking desperately for that chunk of ice on the horizon to put me out of my misery.  And on they talked, and explained, and then came the special request, an iceberg worthy of this ocean of hell.

“Terry, we want you to be the BEST MAN.”

End of Part Two.

—————

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt. 1

The Days Before Tomorrow, Interlude

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt. 3

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 4 – Those Left Behind

The Days Before Tomorrow, Epilogue and Answers

The Days Before Tomorrow, Afterword

The Days Before Tomorrow … Pt 1

“Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you
When you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right
And life has a funny way of helping you out when
You think everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up
In your face” – Alanis Morrisette, “Ironic”

”They say when you meet the love of your life, time stops, and that’s true. What they don’t tell you is that when it starts again, it moves extra fast to catch up.” – Ed Bloom, Big Fish

“The magic of our first love is our ignorance that it would never end.” – Unknown

This will definately become a multi-part blog, as it’s a pretty long story.  It’s one that’s probably worthy of a soap opera, and it literally spawns over decades.

It’s a tale never written in full, but it’s time that its told, even in summary.  It’s about a pretty special girl who I will never forget, and in many ways never forgive as well. It’s about love and loss. It’s about passion and fate, pride and stupidity.  It’s about obsession.  It’s about hatred. It’s about the law. It’s about the moral right against the legal right, and how it’s so hard to tell where the line between the two is sometimes. And in the end, it’s simply about a girl, who loved a boy, who loved her back, and how they both lost one another.

But to tell the tale, I have to tell you a bit about how it all started.  Just to let you know, because some people are still around in this whole mess, including 2 innocent kids who I still love so all names have been concealed save mine.

When I first saw her at the community pool, I think I could honestly say that I was just breathless.  It wasn’t one of those teen flashes of “babeocity”, where hormones ran rampant and hearts flew. I was just stunned.  There she was, in her simple 1-piece swimsuit, her smile and that look… that look that turned me into a deaf mute.  Again with the buts though, this was a time when I was young, insecure and painfully shy.  I aspired to be the knight of olde even then, but all I could pretend to be was the new squire to be ordered and ridiculed.

I wasn’t one of the cool crowd back then.  I was the geek, the kid who was nervous and self conscious and jittery.  I was the one who everyone liked, but not necessarily would invite to a night out for a drink and would be far more at home in a basement playing Dungeons and Dragons than watching a football game.  So while I was struck by her, I was equally intimidated by her as well.  It was like a “5” was striving to win a “10”.

So the first few weeks went, with course after course learning how to rescue dive, to perform CPR, use a spinal board and so on.  There I was, longing to know her and being too shy but it took the secret “summer friend” event at the YMCA to change things.

In the day, I was working for the YMCA as a day camp counsellor and then would bike to swim classes.  To promote friendship among the staff, a secret summer friend project was launched, whereas a summer friend would get to do something special for another one secretly based on names picked out a hat.  Simply put, I kinda sucked as a secret summer friend.  With my busy schedule, I kept forgetting to do something special for my “friend.”  But my secret friend rocked!  One day, I went to check my personal mailbox, only to find a bag full of fresh baked cookies!  Pretty jazzed by the gift, I brought it to swim class and lost pretty much all inhibitions and offered them to HER.  The cookies rocked, but what happened right after rocked ME.  She kissed me on the cheek,

From thereon, we were great friends.  We were always sitting together during classes, talking, joking and chatting, working out times to go out together and so on.  It was a glorious summer, and as the weeks passed, my feelings grew ever more.

But as all good things, classes came to an end and I dreaded the time to miss her presence.  With that, I knew I had to take one great chance.  Fortes fortuna juvat.  Fortune Favours the Bold.

It was the day of the final swimming exam where we had to “rescue” each other, take each other out, and perform mouth to mouth.  Everyone walked in ready for the challenge. I walked in not caring at all for that one, as I had a greater challenge in my hands…. a bouquet of roses.  Before class started, I faced her, and quietly gave her the bouquet, and secretly reveled in my glorious action.  I didn’t give her a chance to answer.  I didn’t give her even a word explaining it all.  I just showed her that I really, really cared for her.

The exam went on, and we all performed as expected.  Swimming a few miles in the pool in the different styles.  Diving in one way or another.  Dealing with panicked swimmers.  But then came the mouth to mouth, and it was her turn to rescue me.

Well, here I was, “unconscious” and partially “drowned”, doing my best to pretend to be a swimmer in distress.  I was partnered up with her, and I just really hoped that I didn’t have really bad breath to make her exam unpleasant.  Nope. It was so far completely from unpleasant that she honestly did take my breath away.

It was a typical procedure of course.  Tilt the head.  Check for breathing.  Clear the airway.  Pinch the nose. Take a deep breath.  Cover his mouth with yours.  Begin to secretly give him a french kiss in the middle of a mouth to mouth exam knowing he won’t endanger your mark and hope he doesn’t freak out.

Yes people, that was my first french kiss.  She knew I reveled in flustering her with the roses, so she french kissed me in a very unusual way, and in the one place where she knew I would never run.  Each “kiss” had to be quick and short, but as her tongue touched mine each time, the moments lasted damn near forever.

That was that, the gauntlet was thrown, and we would become close in our own clumsy way.  Over the years to come, she and I would walk together in the morning every day before she would get onto her bus to school.  We were both from different school districts, so I never saw her in the weekdays much.  But we would write to each other day after day, note after note found awaiting the other.  On weekends, she would be with her friends, and I with mine, but still grew close through our words and our rare moments together. And… always, whenever possible, we would sit close, stare into the heavens and watch the lightning and the thunder play their dance in the night skies. 

By the end of that first year, I knew I was in love with her.  And I believed she loved me too.

Fast forward a few years, and as ever, we just couldn’t seem to keep a regular schedule together. We both had other boyfriends, girlfriends, dates and flings, but we always found ourselves together a few months later.  Each time was chaste, honourable and proper.  We loved each other, but weren’t quite sure HOW to love one another.  We both kept ourselves pretty busy and just kept passing one another by like 2 ships in the night.  We were young and stupid, and kept finding barriers to keep each other apart, yet would write to each other like crazy and still find ways to let our words touch the other.

We were now university students, but she was always in many ways far more focused than me.  She had won a full scholarship far away, and I was so proud and happy for her.  But, and again always the but, there was a problem.  She didn’t want to leave.

Was it because she was afraid of leaving Montreal?  Afraid of being alone in a new school?  We spoke, discussed, talked, argued and communicated in every way that was possible over days with the matter going no further ahead.  Her family was concerned, and I was worried beyond belief.  Such opportunities rarely came, and I didn’t want her to miss out on this chance of a lifetime.  And being a typical male, I saw it all in a black and white matter, when she showed me her one overwhelming argument in one burst of communication I never considered…. a kiss.

It was a long, deep kiss, full of longings, hopes and dreams.  It told me everything about her, her heart and what she wanted without saying a word.  I was the reason why she wouldn’t leave. No more… no less.

And with that, I started my plans to do probably the singly most noblest thing I’ve ever done, and probably the stupidest one as well.  I started to conspire with her parents to break her heart and shatter this almost a full relationship for good.  My logic, break her heart and drive her away to school where she can focus and become a great lawyer.  The problem? Logic never really works well in matters of the heart.   And from that moment, a mutual journey began.  It was one that would run over 20 years and tie our lives and several others together in ways that I could have never ever foreseen.

End of Part 1.

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt. 2

The Days Before Tomorrow, Interlude

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt. 3

The Days Before Tomorrow, Pt 4 – Those Left Behind

The Days Before Tomorrow, Epilogue and Answers

The Days Before Tomorrow, Afterword

A Matter of Faith

(Before reading this entry, please note that those of you who are staunch believers in a faith might be offended.  As my entry is not intended to offend, but inform and enlighten, I do understand entirely if you choose to ignore this post or even cut me off.  Anything I state below really is simply my thoughts on what I believe in now, and why I feel that the path I’ve chosen is the one right for me.)

“A religion is sometime a source of happiness, and I would not deprive anyone of happiness. But it is a comfort appropriate for the weak, not for the strong. The great trouble with religion – any religion – is that a religionist, having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge those propositions by evidence. One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak certainty of reason- but one cannot have both.” – Robert Heinlein, Friday

While I was planning on writing something fun, with the latest events rocking the Catholic Church, from the revelations of the rapist priests of Los Angeles, to the sudden resignation of the top UK priest for sexual abuse, and now the resignation of the Pope due to a possible sex scandal and not the reasons so stated as poor health, I just couldn’t get my mind off of this.

I was born Catholic.  Raised to love the Church of God and revere the faith as something unknowable, unquestionable and the way to find hope in the afterlife.  Through my life as a Quebecois kid, I went from St-Ignatius to Loyola High without skipping a beat, serving the church in one way or another.  I genuinely loved being an altar boy, a choir singer, a defender of the Bible and would admittedly even read the Old Testament for fun in between my copies of the Amazing Spider-Man and Batman.  Heck, my favorite secret graphic novel as a child wasn’t compilations of the Avengers, or Star Wars, but the life and times of Jesus Christ.

But then I was introduced to Robert Heinlein, The Amazing Randi, Secular Humanism,  and the episode “Dead Run” from the 1980s Twilight Zone.  The seeds of doubt were planted.

With each passing year, I found myself questioning the lessons given to me, those that I was supposed to follow without question.  I found that gay people were not the spawn of evil (maybe of fashion and dance trends though), that women are very much the equal measure of men, and that there are far too many people that oppress their neighbours in the name of whatever deity was theirs to believe.

But more importantly, when I admitted I am pro-choice, I was confronted with a single question by a devout person, “What kind of Catholic are you?”  And at that moment, the last of any such illusions faded from my sight.  I wasn’t one. Not anymore.  Too many rapes of children by the clergy.  The Magdalene sisters.  The extreme right using the Bible to justify their beliefs, and picking which quotes best suited their purpose.  The coming of a Pope, a former Nazi, and someone who condoned and hidden the corruption of the church.  The truth behind Mother Teresa.  Father Ritter of Covenent House being a child abuser. Those and so many many more events, and I found that I was genuinely embarassed, even disgusted to have ever called myself a Catholic.

Since then, with the absence of belief in Catholicism, I found that the rest of the tenets of Christianity was not much further behind.  The same arguments given by religious men on the existence of a God, also pretty much applies to a Polytheism approach to religion.  There’s no more proof in the reasons for there being a God, than there is believing in a pantheon of Gods.  Why is a belief in God any more real than one of Hinduism (dating back to 5500 BC to today), or in Zeus/Jupiter (1000BC to 300AD) or Xenu (Scientology) for that matter?  Every argument given to me has been given and demanded and hounded and repeated to me from the other’s faith-based point of view.   But having have had that same point of view once, I’ve realized that such thoughts hold no more meaning to me now than the story of Little Red Riding Hood, a fairy tale meant for children.  And there I stood… a believer in the supernatural no longer.

Three years ago, when I finally had the bravery to state to my family that I had become an  Atheist, I wrote this in my former blog as my statement of belief.  As I read it now, I find that I believe this so much more in the present, than I ever could have as my prior self.  In these words, I have no regret, and only joy in the time to come:

“This is it… I believe in the joy of a sniffer of cognac when looking out into a lightning filled sky with Miles sweetly playing in the background. I believe in the laughter of my nephews when they play in the sun. I believe in the joyous taste of a superbly made foie gras across a piece of freshly made baguette. I believe in the rapture of having seen Crosby score that gold medal winning goal, or the determined satisfaction of a job well done when my friend Randy lifted the Grey Cup over his head. I believe that Tim Horton’s is superior to Dunkin’ Donuts any day, and McDonald’s will probably outlast all corporations by generations. “

“I believe in the silent contented grin of my sweetheart on a quiet night on the sofa, and the pure gaze of love between my brother David and his wife Jennifer as they sat across from me. I believe in the thrill of my paddle blade slicing through the water as the Red Eyes approach the finish line. I believe that I am a good man, and my moral choices are right for me, and no one has the right to impose their own morality on me, just as I don’t have the right to impose on them. I believe that when it matters most, I will be there for those who need me to be their knight.

And I believe that my friends and my family are my single greatest source of strength no matter the circumstances.

In the end, that’s all I really do need to believe in. What about you?”