Three Hundred & Sixty-Five.

Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
Five hundred twenty five thousand moments so dear
Five hundred twenty five thousand six hundred minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
“Seasons Of Love” – Rent

One year. Twelve months. Fifty-two weeks. Three hundred and sixty five days… And I’m still as twitterpated as the day we met.

Oh, sure, the novelty has worn off. We don’t text all day, every day. We don’t shower each other in compliments or “I miss you”s after an hour apart. Most of the time, our “romantic” date night consists of picking up the week’s new comics and watching Star Wars in our underwear for the eleven billionth time. I no longer try to avoid offending you when we disagree. Hell, I’m quite happy to call you an asshole on a regular basis.

But you know what? You ARE an asshole. And I love you anyway.

The past year has been full of growth for the two of us, both individually and as a couple. You’ve held my hand through some pretty major career changes, and I’ve picked up pieces I don’t think you even realised were broken. I don’t want to say it’s been easy – we’ve fought, we’ve upset each other, we’ve struggled with the distance every step of the way – but it’s never been difficult. I’ve always known that whatever happened, we’d face it together. Since day one, it’s felt like it has always been, and always will be, the two of us taking on the world.

I laugh to think that just a year ago, I had no idea how my life would change. How a shoe store on a Friday afternoon could be the catalyst to the most incredible love I’ve ever known. How one date could leave my head spinning, my heart racing, and my lips knowing that I wanted you to be my last first kiss.

Through thick and thin, we’ve weathered the storm. Angry, sad, scared, and happy (so happy!) – you have seen me through it all. I couldn’t ask for a more amazing person to share my life with. Jeff Gordon, you are my superhero, my wonderwall, my big picture. I am so blessed to love you and to be loved by you. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.

Love always,
T

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The Way You Love Me

The way you love me is understated. It’s silent, rarely spoken, never hidden but likewise never flaunted. It’s buying sriracha and not gagging when I liberally douse everything I eat with it, and only laughing a little when I eat too much and my stomach hurts. It’s playfully teasing me about my veganism but sending back my veggie burger with cheese when I’m too shy to bug the waiter.

The way you love me is under the blankets, my cold feet pressed up against whatever warm body part I can find. You’ve never complained about it – not once, not even when I wore ridiculously cute shoes that were incredibly inappropriate for the weather and lamented my frozen toes for hours afterward. It’s pushing me to the far side of the bed even though we both know we’ll wake up pressed together with limbs entangled.

The way you love me is a quick fix of my skirt’s hem when I didn’t even notice it was tucked. It’s your eyes scanning me over, drinking me in, and the appreciative “you look great” that I would doubt coming from anyone other than you. It’s taking so damn long in the shower that I eventually give up and just hop in with you. Once I do, it’s in your expression watching me scrub myself – such a mundane action, but your shy half-smile makes me feel like I am the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen.

The way you love me is a lazy Saturday with no kids and no pants and a marathon of classic movies we’ve never seen. Steve Martin is running around as The Jerk and your head is on my chest and everything in the world seems to stand still. The movie ends and I notice how regular and even your breathing is, and I feel so blessed to have this moment – this little flash of perfection.

The way you love me isn’t loud. It isn’t flashy and those who don’t know you would completely miss its existence. But to me, the shine in your eyes is as unmistakable as the sun; it’s always there, even when I’m not looking for it.

Time Stood Still

TRIGGER WARNING: DOMESTIC & SEXUAL VIOLENCE, RAPE

 

May 13, 2005
On a dingy bathroom floor in a house full of addicts, she waited. The test sat on the counter, scarce inches away, yet she couldn’t look. One… two… three minutes passed. It was now or never. Her hands shaking, she picked up her future, wrapped in a disguise of plastic and paper and urine. Positive. She closed her eyes, unsure if she was relieved or disappointed. Time stood still.

January 27, 2006
The hospital was crowded, as if everyone in a fifty mile radius had decided to give birth right then and there. A blur of lights and sleep and strange beeps and frantic calls and pain, oh the pain! She couldn’t quite remember how or why she had ended up in the operating room or why they wouldn’t let her hold her daughter right away or anything beyond the overwhelming agony that every second away from the child caused. A bundle was placed in her arms – The bluest eyes she’d ever seen, the blackest hair, the most perfect little mouth. The world melted away and she finally knew the meaning of her life.

July 15, 2006
She could smell the whiskey on his breath before he entered the room. Her heart beat faster as she clutched her baby closer. One foot out the window, easy does it, twist and turn and grab the ledge … – his hand wrapped around hers and in a single breath she was on the bedroom floor again. The baby bawled in his arms as he hurled accusation after accusation, stepping more firmly on her throat with every uttered syllable. Her life flashed before her eyes and in the moment before the stars became darkness, time stood still.

June 1, 2007
He stumbled in at 9am, drunk, though god knows he’d gone to work last night. She lay awake – eyes closed, breathing regular – hoping he’d think she was still asleep. Their daughter stirred; a heavenly coo from the cradle next to their bed. She jumped up to attend before his clumsy hands could reach the tiny being, but not before a slurred “Stunned cunt, let me sleep” escaped his lips as he collapsed into the pillows. When the darkness overcame him, she methodically packed her belongings and drove to the new apartment across town. Furniture would have to wait, but in that moment, her life started over.

December 17, 2011
The night was young, the music loud, the tequila flowing freely. Across the table, he winked and smiled and she had never felt so sexy. The bar closed, the after party started, and before she knew it, 3am had arrived and it was only the two of them awake. He kissed her, she kissed back, he reached up her skirt. She said no. He stopped. He tried again. The no became more urgent. He conceded and allowed her to drift into unconsciousness. She awoke long enough to kick him and roll over as he peeled her panties off, then returned to the nothingness she had been roused from. Seconds… minutes… ages later, her mind snapped out of the fog, feeling him inside her, momentum building, grunts of pleasure escaping his lips. Her body froze. Words caught in her throat. As he emptied himself into her, time stood still.

July 19, 2013
Eight hours of magic was coming to a close. She thought it was going well, but one could never quite tell with a first date. They placed a bet on the last bowling match – if he won, she had to say yes to a second date. She lost, albeit unintentionally, though she was far from disappointed at the prospect of more time in his company. He walked her to her car; she thanked him for a wonderful day. The sun was setting just behind him, a brilliant cascade of light gleaming over his left shoulder. He hugged her and she could feel the restless energy stirring within him. In a moment of impulsive desire, she pressed her lips to his and held on tightly as the rest of the world became irrelevant.

November 8, 2013
They lay in bed, her head on his chest, his arms protectively cocooning her. He kissed her goodnight, and just as he was dozing off, a timid whisper asked if he was still awake. Now alert, he asked her why. Seconds passed as she took a calming breath and responded with some off-pitch statement about needing to tell him something. With a hint of suspicion, he probed her intentions. Her heart beat faster as she attempted to gather her courage. “I love you,” she breathed, barely audible, as she buried her face in his neck. He gently lifted her chin, gazing into her eyes through the dark. “I love you,” he responded, kissing her tenderly as time stood still.

Missed Opportunities

The first time I thought I might love you, it was August. We’d driven two hours to the racetrack, only to see a “Closed due to rain” sign on the gate. I laughed when you replaced it with a sign blaming the closure on the drivers’ diarrhea. On the way home, you held my hand and sang “I’m On Fire” along with Springsteen. You dozed off, but you wouldn’t let go of my hand. Every time I looked over at you, I couldn’t help thinking that you were absolutely, breathtakingly perfect. But it was too soon, so I swallowed my words and kept my eyes on the road.

A few days later, whilst laying on my bed, you told me about growing up without a mom, how your step-mom was never very nice to you, how your relationship with your dad is good, “good but complicated.” You seemed almost ashamed of your vulnerability. Instead of meeting my eyes, you buried your face in the curve of my neck. I could feel the pain in your words, and all I wanted was to hold you, to make it okay, to take your heart in my hands and fill it up with so much love that you wouldn’t even notice its scars. I listened and stroked your hair; I told you I was sorry and that I would always be there to listen. You were so vulnerable that the words caught in my throat, so I kissed you and tried not to cry.

Weeks passed. One night, cuddled up in bed, I asked if you were sleepy. You told me you were, but asked what was on my mind. With a single deep breath for courage, I poured out all the hurt and pain and trauma from years past. I saw the sadness in your eyes – not because you didn’t want to know, but because it hurt you to know what I had been through. I buried my face in your chest and sobbed, and you didn’t flinch; You hugged me closer and told me you were proud of me for speaking up. I felt the words bubbling up, but it was late and I was scared, so I thanked you and went to sleep.

The moments started coming quicker: The night you told me that I am the only girl you have trusted not to cheat. The day at the park when you referred to us as a family. Thanksgiving Day, when my mother picked a fight and you snuck into the bathroom to tell me it would be okay. The day you found your ex’s belongings in a long-forgotten storage closet and happily threw every last one of them in the trash. The first time you scored a goal and flashed a brilliant smile up at me in the stands. The reasons started to become smaller: Your smile. The way your eyes light up at any mention of Star Wars. How you grill every waiter at every restaurant about what your vegan girlfriend can eat. The gigantic piles of kindling you cut me with no complaint. The way you – a man who doesn’t do PDA – always seem to end up with your arm around me as we walk. How you turn up the heat for me, even though you’re always too warm. The little texts you send to say you miss me when you’re gaming with the boys. Just every little thing you do and say and are. But the moment was never right, so I kept my mouth shut.

The moment I knew unequivocally that I love you was almost laughably mundane. It was a Saturday afternoon, and you were napping . I lay next to you, lost in a book, when I briefly glanced over. I can’t even explain why, but you took my breath away so completely. It was like I was seeing you for the first time, whilst feeling like I’d known you all my life. I wanted to wake you with a kiss, snuggle into the little cocoon your arms always seem to make, and whisper in your ear that I love you beyond measure. But I’m still afraid that you don’t love me back, so I turned the page and decided I’ll wait.

First Date

Sitting in your car by the ocean
You were so nervous
And you burnt your mouth on peppermint tea in an attempt to be smooth.
We laughed till we cried and I couldn’t remember
The last time I had felt so at ease.

I couldn’t stop my gaze from resting
On your beautifully imperfect incisors
Framed by rotund lips of velvet, I yearned to feel
Your breath on my cheek.

Your abrupt departure shook me
Until your clarifying text
“I’m getting sick – that’s why I left.
I would like to see you again.”

And when I woke the next day to see
The rose you picked, sitting on my dresser
I couldn’t help but smile.

© T. Kalau 2013

Suffragism, Through the Eyes of a Seven Year Old

There are moments when I really feel like I’ve done a good job at raising my daughter.

This afternoon, Allie told her Nanny (my mother) that she had decided on a Halloween costume for this year.

Nanny: Oh? What have you decided on?
Allie: I’m going to be a suffragist.
Nanny: (obviously surprised) Can you tell me what a suffragist is?
Allie: Way long long ago, before me and mama and you and GG (Great Grandma) were born, silly men thought women couldn’t do anything! They couldn’t wear pants or drive or even vote! Suffragists fought a big war so that women could vote, just like men. And that’s why I want to be a suffragist for Halloween, ’cause they were so brave!

I’m not going to lie, realising that things I say truly resonate with her made me tear up. If nothing else, I’ve given her a solid sense of equality and a strong grasp of right and wrong.

I couldn’t be prouder.

Proud Mama Moment

My daughter recently turned seven.

When we were planning her birthday party, she asked if I would allow her to have a “toonie party” – where guests are asked to bring a toonie to donate to charity in lieu of a gift. I was incredibly impressed with her maturity, especially when she told me she would like to support our local SPCA. Her birthday party brought in $44, as most guests were happy to donate more than the requested toonie.

On her birthday, she received money from a few relatives. My wonderful little girl kept $20 to spend, put $20 in her savings account, and then donated $10 to the SPCA and $10 to the World Wildlife Federation. It warms my heart to know that my beautiful little girl has such a big heart and is so aware of the issues affecting the safety and well-being of animals of all kinds.

Last Saturday, we brought our donation into our local SPCA. She was so proud to hand over her donation, and we ended up with a couple very sweet ladies who gave her a t-shirt and let her visit with the cats there.

All in all, it was a fantastic experience, and she is already planning a toonie party for her eighth birthday!