I was seventeen years old when I first met Catherine and her sister through a friend from my work. I was in my full club kid phase, and also working in a super-straight and strict corporate office as the “administrative services clerk” (mailroom boy), my friend was temping on the switchboard. During the week in daylight, I might be found in a Sally Ann’s suit and beatleboots, with my chin-length bangs brushed back and secured with vast volumes of hairspray – at night I was more often wearing vintage orchestral tails, combat boots and full makeup – the eighties were a wacky time, truly.
Catherine was then (and she was always, as her early friends will attest) effortlessly cool – amazingly beautiful too. But she was also very quiet, and generally travelled in a pair with her more forward sister. I was smitten at first sight, Catherine somewhat less so, but we did become friends, and a few months later I finally had a chance to slip her a note, when her sister was in the bathroom. She still has the note today, and though I was incredibly nervous, she agreed that it would be nice to get together just the two of us sometime.
Being broke kids, we took a long walk down to the Bathurst Street bridge over the old CN rail lines, long before the wall of condos (back then It was St Mary’s cement and the old Molson’s plant, in that direction), so we could have a perfect view of the Ontario Place fireworks display for Victoria day, without being caught in a crowd. That was thirty eight years ago tonight – and we have always celebrated this first date anniversary as well as our wedding anniversary every year – Catherine’s birthday is the day after, and old Victoria still gets her dues in the form of fireworks as well – so all in all we tend to get a lovely long weekend out of the many excuses for decadence and celebration.
I did a chapter reading a few years ago about the very first song I wrote for Catherine, but I never posted the music video I made for it, except at the end of that reading. Here it is on its own. Simple-simple, but the heart holds up rather nicely, considering the primitive means! ;o)
And yes, I still remember the exact pillar we were hiding behind at Osgoode station (to avoid the evil eye of the ticket collector, who semed to consider punky teens a contaminant to his transit temple) when we had our first kiss, just as recorded in the song – and I vividly remember FLYING home!
This doesn’t get said enough. Love is everything, and is worth everything – a unique source of strength, purpose, meaning, duty and growth. I’m not saying this to hurt the feelings of people who prefer to be single – not at all. There are lots of excellent ways to live a life.
But young people nowadays hear a lot of confusing and cynical messages – and many who have yearning hearts are also plagued by great uncertainty.
With dating apps especially, it can be tempting to see other people as commodities, and things like romance and sex as simple appetites, without any special emotional weight. Why bother with attachment compromise and commitment? Why not just get what you need at the time and go?
Because really being a pair – going all-in together on a life and meaning it, is one of the most amazing adventures a human being can ever take – and sharing the wobbly arc of life brings us to every true hope fear joy and promise which a life might contain.
Love love, respect it, nurture it carefully, and build your capacity for honour and dedication, delight will surely follow, such as to make every obstacle seem smaller, and every reverse less deep or lasting. Work at love, feed it with intention and attention.
And if love has hurt you and left you wondering if it is worth the risk – don’t give up hope – yes it is – and yes you can still find and share it.
I know I go on about politics, history and philosophy a lot, but I also try to talk about how we as individuals think and live. When I speak up against theories which justify general outrage against a group which may not deserve it, I am most sharply pained by the thought of all the friendships creative alliances and romances which are sabotaged before they can even start, by such brick wall bigoted brutalist thinking.
Humans find ways – humans together find richer lives – humans with love, trust and respect can do absolutely anything. Seriously folks, I don’t oppose hateful divisive rhetoric for sport or ego – but because I (will always) stand up for LOVE itself.
No one better in this world than my Catherine.
No greater pleasure or purpose in my life than simply being her (crazy) man.