Chapter I - Before we met ...
The time is June 1984. A young woman returning home to her beloved Northern Ontario makes her way to her first job interview, her way to a new beginning. That young woman's self-confidence had been greatly eroded by her most recent relationship but she wore her cream suit, high heels and perfectly applied makeup as her shield against more rejection. Satchel in hand, black raincoat gently sweeping against her muscular calf's, she walks to the bus stop with determination to make a journey that in those days was far from effortless. She climbs into the city bus, knowing the routine only too well of finding a seat that will offer a vantage point and allow for the strategic placement of her satchel to discourage anyone from sitting next to her. Once seated, she started going through her opening impression for the interview. This had all come to be so quickly, she had only enough time to type one fresh resume. There will be other interviews she thought, and the preparation of this resume had taken too much time. Biting her lower lip, she fidgeted. It would not do to ask them to photocopy her resume, yet there would not be enough time to create another for the next interview.
One last look at her watch, she figured that there would be just enough time to make her way to her younger brother's place of work and make her way back downtown with little time to spare. Looking through her bag, she realized that she did not have enough coins to cover a bus ride back to her sister's place after the interview. She groaned inwardly, knowing that the long walk home in her high heels would be painful. There was no other way. Reaching up to the pull cord, she estimated that this should be the closest stop to get to her brother's office. Feeling self-conscious and anxious, she grabbed her satchel clutching it closely and stood at the doors while the bus came to a full stop. Eyes darting back and forth, not really wanting to make eye contact with anyone, she quickly stepped down to the sidewalk. Again, she realizes that her lack of confidence had rushed her. Too late, she was quite a few blocks away from the office. She watched as the bus continued on its route, moving in the same direction as the office.
The day was warm and made muggy from the morning's light rain. She did not dare remove her black coat for fear of drawing too much attention to herself. She finally crossed the parking lot and stepped into the office. Looking around, the office made darker from the lights being turned off to cool down the building, she waited for her eyes to adjust. To her right, she noticed a handsome man sitting at his desk and at the same time felt her baby brother rushing towards her to scoop her up in a great big hug.
He held his sister closely and with twinkling eyes asked her what she was doing there. "I need copies of my resume," she says. "And if you can spare a few coins, bus fair to get back home." "Well," he says, "the copies I can help with, but I don't have any coins to spare."
He brings her over to the photocopier which was located just in front of the gentleman's desk and she proceeded to make her copies. All the while, she could feel that he was staring at her while being on a telephone call. She still does not know what possessed her to do it, but she started to strike her most feminine poses; hips swaying ever so gently while moving the paper around, one leg outstretched balancing on her high heel and graceful movements of her hands. She became giddy, knowing that she had his attention.
Copies done, she walks back towards the door accompanied by her brother. Knowing that there were still a few more moments before the next bus, she made plans to meet up with her brother and his wife soon. All the while, she could hear this man's impatience growing with the telephone conversation. The deep cultured tone of his voice conjuring erotic scenes in her mind, it was difficult to stay focused on her brother's words.
Just as it was time to leave, the telephone conversation ended rather abruptly and he was finally standing close. She looked up and was met with the most charming smile she had ever seen. "Are you going to introduce us?" he says to her little brother. "Oh ya, this is my big sister!" "Ginette, this is Bill, Bill, this is Ginette." I reached out to shake hands and noticed the pure elegance of his hands and the strength of his forearm.
There he stood, all 6'2" in light blue pants, white shirt with sleeve curled up and inwards exposing his forearms and tie. He speaks English and I not so much. But there was definitely conversation happening. I am now rushed to get to the bus, all the while not wanting to leave because I loved lingering in his attention. Danny, baby brother, explains that I have to get going to catch a bus so Bill offers to drop me off, extending the time spent in this electrifying atmosphere. I could not believe how easily my mind was gravitating towards this individual I just met.
Sometime after, when we sat recollecting our first meeting, Bill shared that he knew, from the moment I stepped into the office that I was the one for him. He described it as actually hearing a voice saying, "Here she is. She is the one." It was much the same for myself for it was a leap of pure faith to allow another man into my life. He was, is and will always be - the one!
We both know that our story started before we first met.
Chapter Two - The schoolgirl!
After my interview that day, I called my sister Carm to let her know that I was done and that it had gone somewhat okay. She informed me that she was coming downtown to run a few errands and that she would pick me up. I was anxious to share my encounter with her. There was no hiding under my black coat anymore. The sun was intense and the beads of perspiration had started to run down my back. I stood in the nook of the building's entrance, hoping to make myself small enough as to not attract any stares. I concentrated on my breathing and stared down at my satchel hanging from my shaking hands. All the while, I willed myself not to fidget. Breathe dear girl, she will be here soon.
My thoughts went back to his warm smile, and my heart missed a beat remembering the sound of his voice. The butterflies were having fun in the pit of my stomach. I smiled. I could not remember the last time I had felt this giddy as a schoolgirl.
So much had happened in a very short while. I had left Montreal to be with my sister and brother-in-law in Toronto. They were there for their daughter's second open heart surgery and I was also taking some time to reflect on my life. As I got to the hospital to join them, I sat with my niece, who at eight months of age was fighting so hard for her life. Something inside me was budding. At 25 years of age, I had long given up on life, given up on the thought of ever being truly happy, had given up on myself. This little person in my arms taught me something - there is always hope, there is a reason to live. The week that followed in Toronto, I decided to move back to Northern Ontario. Not missing a beat, my brother-in-law and a friend made the arrangements to close up shop in Montreal and to move my things to my sister's place. We traveled to Montreal, packed up my friend's van and made our way back to Toronto. The next morning, my friend and I traveled back to Timmins to drop off my stuff and then headed back to Toronto. Done, I was moving on with life! So here I am, standing outside waiting for my sister with one interview already under my belt. I flew in with my niece on Sunday and we were only Thursday and I had met someone who at the mere thought of his being could make me smile.
The big blue van pulled up and I raced to get inside! Carm smiled and I let out a great big sigh. Then the verbal diarrhea started. "I met someone today!"
We walked and talked and I could not say enough about Bill. We stopped in this little jewelry shop and Carm introduced me to the jeweler. We chatted about Carm and Bob's upcoming anniversary and I mentioned that I would be baking a Black Forest Cake. All I needed was to get some Kirsch and that is when this gentleman mentioned that he would drop some off the next day. He looked at my wristwatch and mentioned that he could take a few links out so that it would not be so loose. I thanked him and we were back at running errands. "I think he likes you," Carm says. "That's nice," I thought "but he isn't Bill." I smiled but not because of what Carm said, but because I was thinking of Bill.
We got home and Carm mentioned to Bob that I had met someone from Danny's office. "Who?" he asks. "Doug," I said. "Doug?" "Yes, I'm sure that's what Danny said." Bob smiles and says, "There is no Doug working there. Are you sure?" "Yes, yes," I said. "There is a Bill there, but not a Doug." Bob says. "Could it be a customer?" Bob asks. "No, he looked like he works there," I stood on my convictions. "But then again, I was so mesmerized by his presence, did I really hear the name right?" I pondered.
Bill would often bring this up and chuckle through the years. Hey, not my fault, I was giddy as a schoolgirl!
Chapter Three - The First Date
Okay, so I finally got the name right! Bill.
I really do need to set this one up. On the day after meeting Bill, I set to work on my sister's anniversary cake. The jeweler brought over the bottle of Kirsch as promised and stayed for conversation. At the end he had invited us for supper on the Monday evening, this being our July long weekend. He would also be joining us for to celebrate Carm and Bob's anniversary and I agreed to joining him for supper on Sunday night - eah gads! What was I thinking?
All the while, I was hoping that Bill would call to invite me out. Nothing. So here we go ... Friday evening, Sunday evening and then again Monday. I did get a call however, from an old boyfriend who got wind that I was back in town and wondered if I would join him on Wednesday night. Sure, okay. All the while, my ears kept perking every time the phone rang. Man, my sister really does get a lot of phone calls!
At the end of my date on Sunday evening, I suggested that we stop at my brother's place ... pit stop! At some point I was alone with Danny. He spoke with a great deal of mixed excitement and apprehension. "Do you know who came by today?" he asked. The excitement started to squirm in my belly. "Yeah, I've been working with this guy for a while now and this is the first time he just pops in!" Like a couple of young conspirators, I got closer to my brother and asked, "What did he want?" What I really wanted to ask was, "Did he ask about me?" "That's just it," says my brother. "He came and did a lot of little talk, then asked if I could give him Carm's number." All the while, my brother's smile was growing bigger. "Just as I was about to go into the house to get paper and pen, Bill pulled out his own. He had come prepared!" I did not spend too much time after that and got my date to drive me home so that I could wait by the phone. No call - except from the old boyfriend. I was quite deflated.
Monday, I went out for supper with the group and was anxious to get home. Still no call.
Tuesday morning, I woke up with some apprehension but managed to slip into my tight cyclist gear late that afternoon. One last look in the mirror showed off the many years of cycling and running. The makeup was fresh and the hair perfectly set into a whimsical ponytail. Good. Now if only the inside felt as put together as the outside. I set off to show off! I made my way to meet up with my brother at work, a little concerned that my lack of knowledge of the streets and the utter disregard for cyclists in this darn town slowed me down. Just as I was pulling up to the parking lot, I noticed Bill fleeing the scene like a bat out of hell. No sooner had I noticed him waiting at the entrance, I was being left in the dust with only his car taillights staring back. Now I was really deflated. Who would want me anyway? Danny and I cycled to his home and I sat in their quaint little kitchen, my sister-in-law not saying much but Danny came straight out with it. "He really is not your type. He's a little bit of a pervert and he always says that kids are great ... when they are someone else's!" Tears of self-rejection flowed freely down my cheeks. Why is it that I always seem to be attracted to these "bad boys"?
I rode back to my sister's place with a heavy heart. I promised Danny and Viv that I would be by for lunch the next day. I sat through the evening with my sister and her beautiful daughters and wished that this was my life.
As promised, and feeling an odd sense of challenge by Bill's perceived rejection, I spent the next morning showering, shaving with great attention to detail then making sure that my very best cycling outfit was right. This red and white outfit left very little to the imagination! Long muscular legs protruding from very shorty shorts punctuated by crisp white socks and runners. The strength of my sculptured arms was further defined by my honey golden tan. Having memorized my way back to my brother's office, I made it there in time to have Bill take notice. Notice he did, and when I plunked myself down in the chair before his desk, he finally asked me out. After some chatting about my bike and his newly acquired bike, he asked if I was free that evening. I still remember my eyes roaming the room, wondering how I could salvage my date with an old boyfriend, yet go out on this date with this wonderful man. Bill offered me an out saying, "Well if tonight does not work, we can always reschedule!" I remember my mind screaming, "What? No way ... I have to fix this!" ... Actually, it was more ... "Non, non! Ce n'est pas possible! Je veux tellement être avec toi ... pas avec lui ... mais si tu n'es pas lui ... comment faire?" ... you get the drift! So I assured Bill that I was available and that we could meet around ... 7?
I left Danny's place and cycled to this old boyfriend's place and apologized for not checking my schedule before agreeing to meeting on Wednesday. We sat and had a beer and chatted about the old times. We rescheduled for Sunday evening.
I jumped back on my bike and cycled back to my sister's place in pouring rain. Drenched and elated, I stormed into the kitchen beaming. "I'm going out tonight!" She looked at me smiling and responded, "I know." "But, you don't know who with!" "Yes," she offered me a puzzled look. "No, I'm going out with Bill!" Her face reflected "Ah!"
I started to make my way upstairs and she asked where we were off to. *Groan* the man had a way of making me so clueless! "I don't really know," I offered. "We were talking about his new bike. Maybe, he meant for us to go out cycling. But I don't really know."
I raced upstairs to look through my clothes hoping to find the one outfit that could be worn either on a bike or in a car. Hopeless! I rushed down the stairs calling out to my sister. Did she mind ironing my jeans and blouse ... and summer dress ... and shorts! She smiled and agreed. I need to have everything ready so that when he pulled up in the driveway, it would be simply to slip into what compliments what he is wearing. I still see my sister shaking her head and smiling, saying, "So this is what's in store for me when my daughters turn teenager!"
So I stood at the window in my panties and bra, peeking through the slit in the curtains, waiting for Bill to show up. Oh wow! This I did not expect! A beautiful 1979 Trans Am came rumbling around the corner and pulled up in the driveway. It gets better! Door opens and this gorgeous sporty guy steps out. "Carm! It's jeans! Can you entertain him?" She giggles and goes down to answer the door. His voice makes its way to my room and as I slipped into my jeans and laid back on the bed to zip them up, I found my hands were trembling.
As I came down to the kitchen, tight jeans, white frilly shirt with just a hint of miniature red polka dots and white angora sweater, all I could think was "Yum". Bill later shared that he knew I was close because my perfume came to tickle his senses.
Carm did not have to entertain much for Bill and Bob knew each other from doing business together and we all love our Bob for his natural ability to speak with anyone. And speak he did ... and more ... and more! "Okay Bob, this is my date," I grumbled inside! I sensed that Bill was thinking the same for he kept looking over and did the thing with his moustache. It twitched ever so slightly at first then he started to touch the corners of it as if smacking his lips after a feast!
We were finally off! We drove around and he did a lot of talking. Telling me about this and that and filling in my sentences when the English words would not come. He then asked if I would like to have coffee at his place to which I nodded emphatically! Love my coffee. As we were nearing his place, he said, "Oh! There is my mom!" I see an older lady on a bike steering into a driveway. I looked over and caught the pride on his face. "This is good!" I think. Always a sucker for a man who shows pride regarding his mother.
As we pulled up to this very quaint white wartime home, he looked perplexed. "Where did she go?" I looked around and could not see the lady on the bike. She disappeared! He let out a low soft chuckle. I did not know the meaning of it just then, but would come to know this as "A Junnie moment."
He served me an instant coffee and we continued to converse as best we could. We enjoyed each other's company and I learned that he had purchased this very beautiful little home only a year before and that he had plans to renovate. He spoke of his work, his love of golf and of his friends. I cannot recount exactly what was said simply because I was entertained by his voice and very much attracted by his physical beauty.
Time to get back home. It was quite late and we drove in silence. He pulled into my sister's driveway and as I reached for the door handle, he put his hand on my arm and gave me a very brief peck on the cheek.
We did not make plans to meet again, but in that simple gesture, that very innocent peck on the cheek, I knew we would be together, forever!