Love Story: Page 13
October 23, 2015
October 2005 – North York, ON
We didn’t speak for a week. Or, that’s how I remember it. Actually, it was an extremely long day and a half, filled with crazy-making one way conversations in every foreseeable permutation.
His hope had been that I would keep the ring, and give it back to him if ever I did not want to continue. He was trying to put it in my hands, to tell me the he was committed, that it was up to me now. He’d even had “follow your heart” engraved inside the ring. Sweet, but insufferable art student that I was, I’d found that detail embarrassingly cliché.
The whole thing made me absolutely squirrelly. And sad. And a little angry. I didn’t know where things were going, I was just orienting myself to the situation at hand. I felt like he was forcing me to throw on the fluorescent lights when I was only just beginning to make out the gentle twinkle of the stars.
I was dreading speaking to him again. I couldn’t imagine the conversation going well. I had the horrible feeling that this was it. My fragile reticence would be read as punishable rejection and our dream would be over now. That was the way it worked, so I’d learned.
But of course, that’s not what happened.
We spoke on Sunday. The ninth, I know because it was the day before Thanksgiving. Unlike me, with my impulsive, unfiltered stream of consciousness, Achim’s words are generally slow to come, chosen carefully. He’s a thinker. He is not one to talk over someone, and he tends to kindly allow me to chatter away, dominating three quarters of the conversation. I assumed I would be the one trying to painfully navigate this emotional coup, but he surprised me by speaking first, clear and bright.
I’ve been thinking and praying a lot, he told me. He explained how he had realised that he was trying to make me commit to something, to make this intangible thing more certain. To hold me too tightly. He apologised. He wasn’t grovelling, he seemed almost relieved, peaceful and warm in his certainty. He wanted me to feel completely free, he told me.
I felt a crushing grand piano lifted off my back. The stars twinkled again, and brighter. I couldn’t believe it. Previously, “love” had always come choked with the strings attached. They would give me this, but I had to give them that. Deal or no deal. Something deep in me hadn’t understood that it could be so different.
We met that evening. I floated through a Thanksgiving celebration at the little chapel in the student centre, light as a feather. We stayed up until dawn and spent a drizzly, grey Thanksgiving Monday walking Finch Avenue in search of an open restaurant or even a coffee shop. Past the boxy yellow high rises and ever-changing mini-plazas, their neon signs dark, CLOSED hanging crooked on every door, cars whizzing over the slick street as our only company. Hand in hand, it felt cozy.
We shared a gas station Thanksgiving dinner, and it was perfect.
He flew home a couple of days later. There was no spoken commitment, no plan. Only that we wanted to stay in touch. Both of our lives were full and uncertain. We would try and write each other, though I’d never been good at that. We would just have to see.
Page 13/15(ish). In case you missed this post, I’ll be writing and illustrating our story over the course of about a month. It’s a true love story that spans 17 years. You can expect new “pages” posted every second day or so, from September 22 –
October 21 the end of the story.
p.s. Page 1, Page 2, Page 3, Page 4, Page 5, Page 6, Page 7, Page 8, Page 9, Page 10, Page 11 and Page 12, if you’ve just started reading!