Wednesday, February 9, 2011

if a story were a tree, these would be the roots...

Today I feel like telling a story.

I feel like I've launched into this blog thing without really giving a sense of who we were and where we came from. I wrote about our engagement back in October, but there was no pre-story. Because I like writing, and because I'm trying to waste time at work, I thought I'd write the story here of how we met, re-met, and fell in love.
Ok, so that sounds a little epic for what I actually intended, and could probably turn into a novel (I've had people tell me it should be a movie) so I'll try and not go on and on too much. In the end, this is the story about how we met - the re-meeting and falling in love will have to come later on.

It was 2001.
I was an awkward year 9 student at a 'hippy' private school. I would have been 16 at the time, getting way into the internet; chat sites, role-playing, various pagan/wiccan spiritual sort of communities. And I made mistakes, stupid teenage decisions, but decisions that meant Nic and I ended up meeting. It was these mistakes which lead me to have some bizarre Canadian obsession and so, when my best friend of the time heard that there was a new kid at school (who was Canadian, lo and behold) we became instantly fascinated and made it our lunch-time quest to hunt him down.

He wasn't hard to find- a green backpack proudly had the Canadian flag sewn to the front, red maple leaf screaming his nationality. He was eating a sandwhich. I can imagine us two girls now, with eyes bulging and mouths open, as though we'd never seen someone so fascinating in our lives, and he, unaware that he was about to meet someone who would torment him for the rest of highschool* and would, eventually love him, and be loved by him.

Are you Canadian!?!?!" We asked, shrill voices ablaze and probably talking in unision.
With a nod of his head, we commenced conversation, although I have a feeling much of it revolved around us trying to convince him to say 'about', or 'out', or 'mouse'. But this is just the story of how we met.

Let's be clear about something: Nic and I were not highschool sweet-hearts, even though it seems as though the story is going in that direction.

Nic did become many things to me: friend, confidant, person to tease and pick on. We bring this up often now- our constant torture of one another. One of my favourite pasttimes was to stand on Nic's shoes (and I was not a stick-figure girl who weighed a feather), and try and convince him to walk around. He would be poked and prodded. I would crack a hundred biting jokes, and, to be fair, he would often give it as good as he got- quick wit and sharp tongues fighting for supremacy in the schoolyard at lunchtime.

This is a small photo of us, I was probably in year 10. Here is an example of us making fun of each other- Nic is making fun of the fact that I'm short and need to stand on a step to be his height.**

We were friends, but not the best of friends. I'll admit, often I look back on some of my actions during that time and feel awful. I wish I had looked after him as he looked after me when I was fighting through angsty-teenage-emo phases and he would be the only one who cared enough to badger me persistantly about what my problems were (they were always about boys, of course). I wish I hadn't snickered about his family's pantry (I don't know why we did this. A friend of mine found it funny. Go figure) with my friends, and that I had stood up for him when they were being awful- more awful than me, even. But I look back on highschool, as I imagine many people do, and much of it is a blur. I remember some things clearly, some things as a general notion or feeling or what happened. I have a feeling that so much of myself was focused on myself, that being able to care for, or about somebody else was too much.

And so, it wasn't until I was in my 2nd last year of high-school that things begun to change. Nic doesn't see this as the beginning of anything, but I do. I hadn't realised that for the past 2 years, while we were at school together in different year-levels, that Nic had feelings for me. For me, he was a go-to person, someone whose shoulder I could cry on, who would listen without judgement and with whom I could have a 4 hour phone conversation and only just run out of things to say (neither of us have since broken this record, and now we don't run out of things to say). One gloriously sunny summer's day, Nic found me before French class, and convinced me to skip out. It wouldn't have been a difficult task, and being as how students often had time off classes, nobody looked askance at two students wandering the school grounds.
At the back of the classrooms was a little creek with wooden bridges, and lucious green grass. We sat there and talked a while, and it is one of the few times I recall us talking more as 'grown up' people, and less as two teenagers picking on one another. For me this moment is pivotal- I began to see Nic differently. He, however, was about to finish school and we knew we wouldn't be seeing each other much more after that day.
We made arrangements to see a movie at the open air cinemas in the botanic gardens, cooked frozen pizza, and cuddled up on a picnic blanket. A remember Nic's arms around my waist, leaning against him, feeling at ease. We watched "School of Rock" - not exactly the most romantic film. Five minutes before the end of the film, the sky opened up and dumped rain down on us, but we waited to see the end. As the credits rolled, we ran, hand in hand back to the apartment where we were staying.

A few months later and Nic was holding his going-away party before he moved to Europe for study. In a grand gesture, he had decided to tell each of his friends what he thought about them before he left. He wasn't attached to Australia, didn't plan on coming back- what did it matter? I was first. Sitting on a bed in the spare room, music muffled through the closed door and people milling around outside with drinks-in-hand, I sat there with my friend, completely oblivious to what he was about to tell me. With no fear of negative reactions, of awkward times together, Nic told me:
"I've always had feelings for you". These may not have been his exact words, I think I was too shell-shocked to remember anything much from that talk, or that night. We spoke for a little while about this, and I began to wonder about the moment we'd shared recently, how maybe I had missed this person who was right in front of me the whole time. There was a near-kiss, missed as friends burst into the room and declared "You were about to kiss, weren't you!?". And, with this question-mark hanging over my head, with no chance to digest my feelings, or to understand how or what he or I felt, Nic left.

It wasn't until I went to Europe in 2009 that things really got started, but that's another story for another time.

*In a loving way?
**This still happens, especially if he is wearing chunky-heeled shoes.

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