Thursday, 24 January 2008

How I met my husband

How I Met My Husband is one of Alice Munro's bitter-sweet short stories (more bitter than sweet, after all, it is Alice Munro...) When I was 10, Alice Munro taught us creative writing in Sunday School. This was just before she became famous (if you're not Canadian, let me assure you, she's one of our best-known Canadian writers), and it was heavenly.

But I digress. I've just checked my perpetual calendar which isn't so perpetual because it only goes up to the year 2000, and January 24th was a Tuesday the year I met my husband. It was a rainy afternoon, and I was doing what I habitually did when I had tons of assignments to complete. I was roaming the four floors of the library at the University of Victoria, looking for someone to talk to. My friend Guinevere was in her usual spot, one of the huge leathery couches set up like booths in the basement, the only place where smoking was allowed. Guinevere didn't smoke, so I guess the leather was the attraction. That, and being able to put her feet up. Sitting with her this day was a bespectacled young man with a nervous manner, a classmate from one of Guinevere's history classes.

Years later, we had an anniversary cake inscribed with "Indifference at First Sight". I thought he was neurotic; he thought I was "a typical English student". (I was in Education at the time, but switched to an English major the following year when I discovered I despised most of my fellow Secondary Education majors.) Things weren't helped the next day when, so he claims, he greeted me and I sailed past without responding. (See prosopagnosia, three posts back --- but we only have his word to go on that this actually happened.)

Today is the anniversary of that rainy January afternoon, one of those big round ones with an 0 at the end. Bitter? Some. Sweet? Some. You don't live with one person for so many years without wanting to belt them at least once. But we don't. Not yet, anyway. We may not know everything about each other, but we know the worst, and that, I think, is what keeps either of us from bailing out. There was an air of inevitability (a word I couldn't pronounce then) throughout the weeks of our courtship, and years on, we still can't avoid each other. And that, my friends, is bitter-sweet.

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