The 22nd of August is my 10th wedding anniversary. J and I are 10 years old! We have been together for 12 years, and we have known each other for 14 years.
When J came to work at the Site in 1998 I instantly liked him. He is that kind of guy. He is unfailingly personable. This is such a fortunate quality. He genuinely cares that other people feel happy and comfortable and appreciated. He lacks the tough shell that I have, and it makes him very beautiful and very hard to resist.
14 years ago, when I first encountered the man I did not know I would marry, I found him sweet, charming and kind of goofy in his earnestness. 14 years ago J was a beautiful boy with inspirational tattoos and a penchant for white, flowing, poofy shirts. I heard him sing in a comedy show one night, and discovered that he has a heartbreaking voice. Dude can sing. When I sat next to him at the opening night of the Theatre Royal that season he told me how he had already been married and was in the process of divorcing, he had already lived and studied in New York City. I said: "You've packed a lot into 24 years!" Little did I know, at that moment, that this is a guy who packs about a year's worth of experiences into every single week of his life. This is a guy who has a kind of eager need to make sure he does not miss out on any adventure or crisis or opportunity. This is a guy who wants to be liked, but never backs down from a challenge even if it means he might fail, or fall on his face. This is a guy who grabs life.
14 years ago J went through a series of girlfriends at the Site before falling hard for someone unexpected - a tall, brilliant, kind of awkward girl who worked for a local historical society for the summer (let's call her A). I barley noticed A that season, except that she seemed to be wound very tight. She held her body in such a way that it appeared her muscles were always tense and ready for some unexpected attack. She dressed like an artist and one night I heard her sing in the pub and she was really good and charming. And that surprised and delighted me. She also had a one in a million smile. Like Julia Roberts, you could forgive this girl for anything once she flashed that smile (although I'm not sure I can forgive Julia for "Eat, Pray, Love," but that's a story for another day). A and J seemed to fall into quite a serious thing that season.
At the start of the next season, in 99, J returned to town but he and A had split over the winter and he was torn up about it. A was somewhere else that season. She didn't seem to be in town. J, in his state of heartbreak, went through a quick series of flings and I got a kick out of watching him with a different girl (seemed like) every week. And each of these girls, briefly, had his full attention. He is not a jerk. But he is a romantic. Then A came back to town. She and J did not get back together right away, as he was with someone else, but they did become roommates.
That summer I was working on my first ever solo show that would premier at the Vancouver Fringe in September so I was MIA as far as being in the social loop that season. I was obsessed with my show so I had no idea that J and a little group of our friends were dealing with something much bigger than building a show.
A was indisputably brilliant. I didn't know it at the time, but she was so academically gifted she had already been accepted to Oxford. The other thing I didn't know was that she, like many people blessed with a super brain, was plagued with mental illness. She was haunted with thoughts of suicide. One day that summer J came home unexpectedly to the apartment he was sharing with A and another friend (he had left work early) and walked right into a scene of A trying to take her own life. J and A weathered a massively painful and dramatic evening, and then, after that night, they became a couple once again. As it seemed they were meant to be.
Now, as I have mentioned before, the town we live in has a spectacular rumour mill. But the small group of people who were involved with this event (neighbours, for example) all agreed to a pact of silence and stuck to it. To this day I am amazed at the ethics and honour of these people. A's suicide attempt was not reduced to ugly gossip. It was honoured with love by her friends. I still well up when I think about that.
In fact, A's friends were so careful with this secret that I knew nothing about it until the week she succeeded in killing herself.
It was between seasons at the Site and I was working in an art supply store in the big city. One day I looked up and saw one of my friends from our small town in the store. I was thrilled! He was thrilled. We hadn't seen each other in months and here we were bumping into one another in my store. We made arrangements to meet for drinks in a couple of days.
It was a Thursday when my friend and I went to a local bar for a few drinks. Another friend who also spent his summers up here and winters in the city (as I did at that time) joined us as well.
We had only just settled down with our drinks when my friend from our Town said: "I talked to J last night and he had the worst possible news." He made this statement so casually that I thought he was going to say that J wasn't coming back to work at the Site for the upcoming season. But that's not what he said. What he said was this:
"A killed herself on Tuesday night."
I remember putting my glass down, looking him in the eyes, and just saying: "What?"
I was sure I must have heard him wrong.
And at that moment I got the whole story of what had transpired the summer previous, how A had tried then, and failed, mostly because J arrived home sooner than expected.
I went to A`s funeral in the city. J sang, and spoke, and was beautiful. In retrospect, I may have suspected at A`s funeral that I would marry that guy one day.
I called J a few days later and we hung out a couple of times in the few weeks before we were to head back up here for the 2000 season. And once we got here we basically became inseparable.
The 2000 season was also the season that my friend - the daughter of the people I worked for - was dying of cancer. Our whole company was in a state of crazy high emotion as we helped the family get through a season where they were trying to keep shows up and running while at the same time guiding their daughter to the end of her life. J and I came together in a moment of mutual crisis. But, as I have come to understand, it is these moments in life - when you have just faced or are just facing the reality of death - when you truly cut the bullshit and just live. That summer of 2000 was intense, brutal, sad and euphoric. And it was all those things every single day.
J and I didn`t know where our relationship was headed, but we did know that it was something.
That winter J stayed here and I went back to the city and we traveled back and forth to see one another almost weekly. And then in April of 2001 I moved here and moved in with him.
And on the 22nd of August, 2002, we got married here. In the Community Hall.
During the course of our marriage we have had the usual amount of ups and downs, but I would argue that we have had more than the average number of adventures. J has forced me out of my comfort zone over and over. I think I have shown him a lot about resolve and I have been able to help him with follow through on projects and ideas. We have had a very good record of having break downs at opposite times so that one of us is weak while the other is strong.
And we had two babies. And now the babies have turned into kids. And J and I have gone from a couple to a family. We have grown up stuff now, like jobs and a mortgage. But in almost every way else we are still the same two people we were 12 years ago when we first, in the midst of chaos, loss and a mind blowing Northern Lights show, decided to give it a go. I still look at my J and see the wounded 26 year old in the poofy shirt, but now I also see years of life lived with a man I still love with everything I`ve got. I also see a man who has yelled at me when I needed to snap out of my stuck place of fear, a man who has beamed proudly at me from the audience when I opened a new show, a man who has been my champion through thick and thin. I look at J and I see friend, boyfriend, husband, actor, director, provider, partner, Daddy to my Mommy. And every day I am so proud to be his wife.