Writing about myself....ugh.
I had a fairly typical life as a pre-information age child in a small town on the prairies. All the farm kids said that we in the town of 1000 were city kids, because we didn't have to shovel poop or catch pigs or chickens or pick eggs or milk cows. All the kids in the nearby town of 10,000 called us country kids because we built forts in the woods and played in the gravel pits, and there was a gas station, not a shopping mall. The town kids were busy being cool, smoking, and playing Nintendo. The nearest major urban centre is 700,000 and everyone there thinks that everyone in all of the above are 'country people'. I tried to explain this to an exchange student from Hong Kong, who laughed at the notion of Winnipeg being a city, and said that Winnipeg was an overgrown town. Ain't subjective reality grand?
So after all that, I can conclusively say that I'm a country kid. When three of your first jobs before graduating highschool have chicken in the job title, you're officially a country kid.
Like most country kids, I grew up in a religious home. French communities are usually Catholic, and the Mennonite towns are usually, well, Mennonite. Our town was a liberal Mennonite town, which meant that most people were non-descript Evangelical Christians, rather than the more extreme colony Mennonites like the Amish or Mexican Mennonites. Half of my graduating class from Grade 9 went to the local public high school, and the other half went to the local Christian high school. Most of my friends were in the second group, and I opted for the Christian high school. I was a pretty uninspired student. There was very little that challenged me and there was little reason to apply myself beyond what was necessary to graduate, which I very nearly did not.
After school I worked, bought a fast car, saw a bit of the world, and spent an unreasonable amount of money on amusing myself in general.
In 2005 my father was diagnosed with cancer, which spread rapidly following a hernia operation. He died three months to the day after diagnosis, following aggressive radiation treatment. Soon after that I left my long time employer, and went to a local non-denominational Christian college. I was a bit better student in college, and began working towards a BA in Sociology. There I met Yuliya, and everything began changing in my life (for the better).
I knew her in my first year there, but only as an aquaintance. She was clearly intelligent, and I sat next to her in choir very intentionally. I impressed her with my knowledge of Russian - thanks to working with Russian immigrants. I say impressed, but it was really more surprise because my vocabulary was limited to phrases like "Excuse me, but this glass is heavy and I need some help" or "Please move the forklift off my foot". In the last couple weeks of the last semester of our first year, it all started to pay off, as Yuliya began sitting with me at lunches and we spent a little more free time with each other. Then, at the end of the year, she asked for my phone number and I got the address of the home she would be staying at over the summer. This was a coupe for me. I knew she was an avid cyclist, and detoured through the area and took evening walks as well, hoping to run into her. Little did I realize she had returned to Ukraine for the first couple of months in the summer. In August she returned, and I spent the month in another province working on a concrete crew. She did not call. It was harsh.
Everything came together at Thanksgiving of my second year. I invited some friends over, including Yuliya, to my mother's place for Thanksgiving. Afterwards we took a long walk, talked about life, ourselves, each other, and came to a somewhat informal agreement that we were going to try out a relationship. We were engaged by Xmas, and married the following spring. To be clear, I'm talking about Canadian Thanksgiving, which falls in early October. We spent about 14 hours a day together, and took most of the same classes. For any questions on our attentiveness in class, please refer to the blog of Dr.V, who was our Critical Thinking professor at the time.
Come spring, and we were married April 4th. The original date planned was for the first, but this was not well received by family. We brought our close friends to the home of Adam and Eden, the marriage commissioners who performed the ceremony. Adam refused to include "for worse" as in, "for better or for worse" in the vows because in his opinion "if someone abuses someone else, a vow should not get in the way of leaving, or kicking them out." We were married. A small dessert social was held, potluck style, in the summer. We did the whole thing for under $500, and wouldn't have changed it for the world.
We lived downtown Winnipeg for a year, which was nice. We never felt in danger, were offered pot many times on the street, and got to know some homeless people by their first names. We moved to the west side of the city after rent went up, and spent a year there as well. It was nice, there were no sirens, the neighbourhood was quiet, and we were allowed to have pets. We had so, so many pets. Then we bought a house, which was also nice. It meant that our neighbour across the hall didn't have a grow op and distribution point within fifteen feet of our kitchen. It meant no neighbours across the hall. It is great.
I'm going to abbreviate five years of marriage at this point by saying that I am the absolute luckiest man in the world. Looking back, I was absolutely not prepared for the realities of marriage in terms of my emotional and general maturity. It's amazing to me, knowing how much I've grown since knowing her, and her willingness to put with a 20-something year old boy in adult clothing for so long. There simply isn't space here for me to praise her sufficiently, and I won't test all of your attention spans by trying.
This isn't the end of the story, not by a long shot. What I will do is post notes which I wrote for facebook on another page, that highlights high points in the past, for the pleasure of our viewers.