Friday, July 30, 2010

a particularly long post about a particularly bad day (also to be known as St. John's, day one)

We get out of our cab from the airport with only our suitcases and dogface with us. Everything else is on a moving truck which will arrive the following week. We arrive at the house we'd taken a risk on over the internet, and we are in awe.

The house is not more than twelve feet wide from the outside. The steps are rotting. It's detached, but within five inches from the house on the left.

There to greet us is Cecila. She lives next door. She has an unlit, half-smoked cigarette stuck to her bottom lip. She has our keys in one hand and a distinct wiry white beard.

"Landlord ain't here to meet ya yet, she'll be along. She's after picking up the kids from school" She says as she hands the keys over. She is very chatty. We try to make polite conversation with her, but are really anxious to get inside and assess the situation we've gotten ourselves into. Finally, she lets us go, with a warning to keep the back gate padlocked. "Them kids here, y'know, they'll be after stealing your plants if you don't".

Great. We enter our house, and it's as bad from the inside as it is from the outside. It's immediately clear that any furniture designed to accomodate an adult human will not fit here.

Next to come by is Cecelia's husband Danny. He posesses not one, not two, but three! of his own teeth! And has the thickest Newfoundland accent you could possibly imagine. He talks for a good five minutes, pausing to laugh at his own jokes, but the only thing I can understand is something about mowing the grass in the back garden. He finally leaves, and Kyle and I exchange a what-the-fuck look. We continue to tour the house, noticing a distinct bow in the kitchen ceiling where the bathtub resides upstairs and a spongy area in the floor beside the toilet. We are both under five foot-eight, and we can touch the ceilings on two of the three floors in this house. Three of four, if you count the basement, where we both hit our heads and the air is thick with mold spores. Kyle can (and has) hit his head on the main stairway if he's not careful.

The landlady shows up. She is young and pretty and nice, and her two young boys are very cute. She refers to them with maddening affection, usually saying 'yes my love' or 'no my darling'. When they begin to swing on the stair banisters, exposing to us the instability due to rot at the base, she looks at us nervously. She tells us she is willing to tear up our lease, knowing it must have been hard to come from so far without being able to properly pick something. We jump on that shit almost immediately.

When she leaves, we sit down on the floor in the eight-by-ten living room, defeated. I may or may not have started to sob and whimper about how I want to go home. Kyle holds me, and agrees.

Later, we trek out to Canadian Tire to buy an air mattress to sleep on and a shower curtain. The directions we're given makes it sound like a ten to fifteen minute walk, but it's really more like an hour. And literally uphill both ways. On the way back, my sandal breaks and I finish the walk one-shoed and teary again.

While Kyle sets up the air mattress, I let the dog out into the backyard. She has a pee, and then starts to roll in the grass in cat shit. It takes all my personal strength not to kill her on the spot.

Things have gotten better since then, but that first day was one of the worst of my life. And our mattress doesn't fit up the stairs here, so we are still sleeping on the fucking air mattress.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Wedding, part eight - We stood there and we made promises

Anna: I love you.

Kyle: I love you.

Anna: And even though our lives are on the verge of some big changes,

Kyle: And I can't make any elaborate promises,

Anna: Because life is unpredictable and hard,

Kyle: I can promise this.

Anna: I promise to be your home, and to make you mine.

Kyle: I promise to talk with you openly every day.

Anna: I promise to listen, and to hear you.

Kyle: I promise to share in your joy,

Anna: and to be a respite from your sorrows.

Kyle: I promise that my words, my actions, and my heart will be honest and loyal always.

Anna: I promise to love you fiercely, and sweetly,

Kyle: Just as I have these past seven years, and above all,

Anna: I'll carry your heart with me

Kyle: I'll carry it in my heart.

Wedding, part seven - Readings

I never cried during our ceremony. I almost did, indeed, I choked up. It was beautiful (if I do say so myself).

My favourite part, other than the part where I married my love, were the readings. This one, in particular, read by Kyle's sister:

The young couple first married on August 5, 1944, when Joseph was eight and Sarah six, and first ended their marriage six days later when Joseph refused to believe, to Sarah's frustration, that the stars were silver nails in the sky, pinning up the black nightscape. They remarried four days later, when Joseph left a note under the door of Sarah's parents' house: I have considered everything you told me, and I do believe that the stars are silver nails.

They ended their marriage again a year later, when Joseph was nine and Sarah seven, over a quarrel about the nature of the bottom of the river bed. A week later, they were remarried, including this time in their vows that they should love each other until death, regardless of the existence of the riverbed, the temperature of the river bed's bottom (should it exist), and the possible existence of starfish on the possibly existing riverbed.

They ended their marriage one hundred and twenty times throughout their lives and each time remarried with a longer list of vows. They were sixty and fifty-eight at their last marriage, only three weeks before Sarah died of heart failure and Joseph drowned himself in the bath. Their marriage contract still hangs over the door of the house they on-and-off shared-nailed to the top post and brushing against the welcome mat:

"It is with everlasting devotion that we, Joseph and Sarah L, reunite in the indestructible union of matrimony, promising love until death, with the understanding that the stars are silver nails in the sky, regardless of the existence of the bottom of the river, the temperature of this bottom (should it exist) and the possible existence of starfish on the possibly existing riverbed, overlooking what may or may not have been accidental grape juice spills, agreeing to forget that Joseph played sticks and balls with his friends when he promised he would help Sarah thread the needle for the quilt she was sewing, and that Sarah was supposed to give the quilt to Joseph, not his buddy, ignoring the simple fact that Joseph snores like a pig, and that Sarah is no great treat to sleep with either, letting slide certain tendencies of both parties to look too long at members of the opposite sex, not making a fuss over why Joseph is such a slob, leaving his clothes wherever he feels like taking them off, expecting Sarah to pick them up, clean them, and put them in their proper place as he should have, or why Sarah has to be such a pain about the smallest things, such as which way the toilet paper unrolls, or when dinner is five minutes later than she was planning, because, let's face it, it's Joseph who's putting that paper on the roll and dinner on the table, disregarding whether the beet is a better vegetable than the cabbage, putting aside the problems of being fat-headed and chronically unreasonable, trying to erase the memory of a long since expired rose bush that a certain someone was supposed to remember to water when his wife was visiting family, accepting the compromise of the way we have been, the way we are, and the way we will likely be. May we live together in unwavering love and good health. Amen."

- Johnathan Safran Foer, from his book Everything is Illuminated.

Wedding, part six - Ceremony

Apologies for the long absence. Moving clear across the country will do that to a little blog.
Some ceremony photos: