Friday, July 12, 2013

THIS YEAR WE'VE TRAVELED 54 403 KILOMETRES ALL OVER THE WORLD. 20 flights, 12 countries, 35 different cities and towns. We've swam in 26 pools and slept in 42 strange beds. We've consumed more white rice than I care to calculate and enough feta cheese to spackle the Parthenon back into shape. And amidst this slew of numbers, today (6000 kilometres from where we met) we mark 10 years together. An entire decade and a third of our lives.

As the trip winds down (Europe officially being our last leg) I find that we're reflecting on things that happened only weeks ago as if they're as much a part of the fabric of these years together as the early days when we first met. "Remember those honeyballs in Mykonos?" gets mashed into "Remember that apartment you had on Carlton?" like one massive flashbulb firing.

At some point on the trip we were talking to a friend and she asked about saying "I love you." Without missing a beat, Jeff said, "Yeah, I said it first. Right?" I was gobsmacked. I know the look I had on my face: Indignance mixed with shock mixed with bemusement.

Let me go back a decade.

We met in July of 2003, in what now seems like a completely different world. We were kids, obviously, with a couple of dodgy rentals, some go-nowhere jobs, and flip-phones. We met online (on a profile-site similar to Facebook) and quickly met in real life. In a classic exit-strategy set-up, we both said we were fresh out of relationships, so "weren't sure what we were looking for". We slept together that first night (for cynics who think that's a death sentence) and were inseparable that summer.

I knew I liked him a lot by August. On the 14th, the eastern seaboard experienced its infamous blackout which took out power for days. In the immediate aftermath there was incredible confusion, no subways, and sweltering heat. Amidst a hoard of thousands, I walked 5 hours home along Toronto's main arteries. There was no cell reception and I couldn't get ahold of Jeff for two days. The only thing keeping me from a total state of panic was the euphoria that came with realizing how bad I liked him. He was the only person I wanted to talk to. I was ecstatic.

A couple of months later he told me he'd been thinking about going to Europe for a few months, to backpack and check it off his list. When he told me I was the only thing keeping him at home, I knew I loved him, but I kept it to myself. We didn't really talk about his trip again, but he didn't go, and at some point the thing on his list became the thing on ours.

That winter I told him I loved him. I don't actually remember the moment, as it wasn't reciprocated and thus forever filed with other heartbreaks, like when I finally realized Judith Light wouldn't be my adoptive mother. Weeks later he broke up with me. He wasn't ready to love me back, and thought just liking me real bad wasn't good enough.  Six weeks later we were back together, but we didn't talk about love again for a while.

The summer following I was coming up on the end of an apartment lease. I wanted us to move in together, but he didn't think it was a good idea. I was the receptionist at a talent agency and dragged the spiralled cord of the phone away from my desk to screech, "But we spend every night together at one of our places, it's just not economical!" We both knew why I was so upset; I was displacing a whole bunch of "He still doesn't love me?!" angst and things were getting grim. Just as the argument was cresting, he shouted "I don't think we should move in together yet, but I love you!" I fell silent and cried next to the photocopier. We waited another year to move in, but finally loved each other simultaneously.

Fast forward to the recent-past, in the Middle East, where he'd cock his head and squint (as he does when he's searching for a memory in his abysmal excuse for one) and nod,"Yeah, I said it first. Right?" This terrible thing that haunted a 21-year-old version of me was just another inconsequential blip lost in a decade's worth of tiny moments. A now-meaningless factoid in a life shared. He thought he said it first!

And how little it matters. 50 000 kilometres around the world, sitting here in Paris, in a tiny (adorable), incredible (sweltering), Montmartre apartment, in the midst of this trip, how little all that matters.

(Jeff, in 2003. Then yesterday. Who knew.)

On Family (March 6, 2012)
True Valentine (February 14, 2011)
Boys to Men (July 12, 2010)

LOCATION: Paris, France
DATE AND TIME: Friday, July 12, 2013 11:00AM Central European Time/Friday, July 12, 2013 5:00AM EST


  1. I loved reading this post Jason, you and Jeff are absolutely adorable together. Lots of love /Sophia

  2. I loved reading that! thanks for sharing.

  3. beautiful post. i like reading stories about how couples met. oh and nice blog btw. been reading a while, haven't commented before. enjoy the rest of your trip!