Partner in crime

I’ve always had a weakness for the canon of friends crossing that line and becoming more.  You know, that moment in romantic comedies when they decide: “I want to ruin our friendship.  Let’s be lovers instead.”  They are not exaggerating; when you risk taking a perfectly good platonic relationship to the gutter by deciding to bet on something more tenuous, you are rolling the dice.  Sometimes, no matter how much you fight it, there is no choice but to take it to that level.

Now, you might ask, how can this person who has only ever dated one person be going on and on about love?  Really, what would I know about that?  People forget that even though Andrew and have known each other since we were 14 years old and been romantically involved for 18 years (jesus christ!), we have had our fair share of ups and downs.  Honestly, I would have been more worried if we hadn’t had these struggles when we’ve been in each other’s lives for longer than some marriages.  At all of these emotional crossroads of course one of the options would have been to let go.  Making that choice was even easier when we didn’t have two kids.  But each and every time we chose to try again.  In my opinion that is more romantic than anything you ever say to each other on your wedding day.  When you decide to forgive and have another go, that party in a big white dress just pales in comparison.

There are a multitude of reasons why couples may choose to say together.  A lot of my issues and fear of commitment were rooted in never having been with anyone else.  Andrew and I have very similar life histories from having attended the same university and graduate school.  When you build a life together, the representation of your bond starts to have similar friends, streets and places.  What I realized though, when I had the chance to be away from some of these comforts on the other side of the world, is that I didn’t need to actually be romantically involved with anyone else to see how much better my partner was.  It’s only when you are in a foreign country, and you meet people of a similar age but vastly different backgrounds and outlooks, that you know there would always be another individual out there for you.  But, it’s important to make the distinction that what is possible shouldn’t necessarily be your future.

Can things change?  Of course.  I believe that love can shift and end to no fault of the parties involve.  Sometimes you grow apart and decide that being amicable is the next step.  It is not a failing to decide to be happy another way when there is a limit to our time here.  People are able to salvage these ties when faced with such circumstances because they remember the love that was there and is still there in a different form.  Even in other cases where you might meet someone new who will offer you something else it’s important to be mindful that the initial excitement will cool.  Are you still compatible when you have to be two adults making your way through life?  My advice to someone in that situation, seriously, take a year, at least 6 months to be alone.  Do not be with the next person till you are a bit less broken.  They will wait till you are whole because I’m telling you, if you jump right in, that relationship is not going to last.

Being with someone from such a young age ensures that you grow up together.  There is no one in this world who understands me the way that Andrew does.  There is not a single other person who I want to continually give more to.  He is the person I want the best for and I want him to count on me to be there even when it’s difficult.  The reason I don’t fear the unknown is because I know that I have my partner, a true intellectual equal to work through what is ahead.  We don’t really celebrate Valentine’s day because this is the commitment we make to each day every single day.  We have a resilient love and that is truly romantic.  And god forbid, if it should ever end, because you know I never tempt the fates by feeling like I know everything that will go down, we will always have the friendship.

P.S. Let me add some gossip to your Valentine’s day.  I have a deep affection for a certain Canadian ice dance pair whose names rhyme with Lessa Curfew and Dot Lawyer.  If you go through my archives for pieces around spring 2014 I wrote about them a few times expressing my confusion about the state of their relationship.  Well it turns out that I was not a crazy person and they did have a “thing” around that time.  Actually, they’ve been on/off since 2012 but speculation even runs further back than that.  They are a perfect example of two childhood friends turned elite athletes and business partners who have had to define their relationship over the years.  After a couple of false starts rumour has it that they’ve been quietly seeing each other since late 2015.  In fact, their Free Dance is about second chances.  Watch it here it’s gorgeous.  Fingers crossed that one day all of Canada can breathe a sigh of relief that the two people the entire nation wanted together figured their shit out.tumblr_oh9u18r7dg1tvcpffo1_1280

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Game on

I have a strong dislike for football.  I know that most sports are physical but there’s just something about having a position that solely consists of running through other bodies and dealing with the damage that doesn’t sit well with me.  Also, sitting on a commuter train with a hoard of Patriots fans on Super Bowl parade day didn’t exactly endear me any more to the game.  So needless to say, my husband and I are going to discourage our son from playing this sport in the future even though he will be growing up in America.  Andrew takes a stronger stance and says that “C will never play this sport.”

My perspective softened slightly after the Patriots won the Super Bowl and I started to listen to some of the media interviews.  I only really became interested because of the Malcolm Butler story.  Come on, who does not love the underdog triumphing in every way imaginable on game day?  One soundbyte that was quoted frequently basically involved Malcolm saying that it doesn’t matter where you came from, but it matters what you do when you get there.  This is a scrapper who did not give up.  Fuck, that’s inspirational.  If you watch the interception you notice that he sort of puts his shoulder in front of the other player to get at the pass.  You get that grit from having to fight for a spot on literally the last train that was going to come for you in your pro career.

Many other players also spoke of how what ensued on the field was nothing special because these were the exercises that they performed each and everyday.  What they achieved did not happen because of an exceptional event but instead was the result of the time they put into their craft.  That is such an important message to any young person who may be looking up to them and hanging onto their words.

Never having been particularly sporty, other than excelling at swimming, I wished that I had had this sort of influence for most of my life.  This type of work ethic and determination can positively impact so many other aspects of your wellbeing.  I’m happy that my son has an athletic father to grow up with who can nurture this part of his development.  My husband is not cocky, loud or boisterous, in spite of both his intelligence and talent in various athletic endeavors.

Through his immersion in learning to ice skate each Sunday, my son’s current idols consist of hockey players.  A few weeks ago a young player was practicing on the ice with his full gear on.  As he’s making his way off the ice, C points out to his dad that there’s a real hockey player.  This thirteen year old kid, with Ashworth on his uniform, smiles and comes over to say hi and gave my son a high-five.  Later on, when C takes a tumble on the ice Ashworth comes over, helps him up and even demonstrates for a bit how to skate, and man, he was a great skater.  I was amazed that at a such a young age he was so humble, nurturing and sweet.  I’ll take these type of hockey stars over Spiderman or Batman any day.  Play on player.

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View from above

P.K. Subban is a player in the National Hockey League and is of African-American descent.  When he scored the winning goal against the Boston Bruins on May 1, allowing his team to advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, people threw garbage at him and called him the n-word on Twitter.  When asked by journalist Chris Johnston to comment on these events his response was: “I don’t know.  It doesn’t even matter.”  My gut reaction to this is, but P.K., it does matter.

This reminds me of a scene in the Mira Nair film The Reluctant Fundamentalist, which chronicles the pursuit and eventual disenfranchisement with the American dream for a South Asian man.  The book is brilliant but unfortunately its merits didn’t quite translate very well on screen.  Really, you couldn’t put one more light in the Islamabad scenes which are predominantly set in the restaurant?  I can barely see their faces and it’s veering dangerously close to the problematic “Heart of Darkness” imagery.  The saving grace is Riz Ahmed and his charisma, talent and bone-structure.  As an Oxford-educated British actor and musician, Ahmed is definitely contributing to his craft in very interesting ways.  To return to the film, I want to discuss its most poignant scene because it relates to what life is like for all of us at the margins.  The protagonist named Changez is interviewing for a very competitive position with a prestigious bank.  The interviewer (Kiefer Sutherland) will eventually become his mentor and biggest supporter but in this instance he mainly discusses where Changez is “from” and how the scholarships must have really helped him attend Princeton.  God forbid that a racialized man would come from a family of means and social standing.  Finally he questions him on why he just didn’t attend school in Pakistan, I mean that’s where he belongs right?  To this Changez replies, “Because in America you can win.  And I will win whether you give me the job or not.”  That’s it, with that moment right there I feel like he summed up how we, the marginalized, are conditioned to think.  It’s like we constantly say, “What, you’re not going to let me earn it in one step?  That’s fine, whether it takes 5 or 25 steps I will get there.”  We learn to get the job done.

So perhaps P.K. Subban is right and it doesn’t matter.  I don’t know his story but I can imagine what it was like to try to breakthrough in a sport made up of predominantly middle-class White boys whose parents can afford the lessons and equipment.  I’m not suggesting that the Subban family could not, I just bet that the locker rooms weren’t always the easiest places to be.  What P.K. Subban is saying is that he will not be defined by people’s ignorance or the labels they are forcing on him.  His identity won’t be reduced to the colour of his skin.  He won’t be put in his place.  There’s poetic justice in it right?  In rising above?

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Smut

Being a full one month older than my husband, I feel that it qualifies me to give him sage advice on a regular basis.  For example “it’s the cold ones that you have to worry about because they won’t think twice before rolling you over with their car.”  Or, “no one likes getting divorced unless they have a lover to go to within the hour.”  Clearly I’m being facetious but these thoughts come from years of observation.  People fascinate me, how they primp, perform, revel and rebound from setbacks.

This interest is taken to another level through my inability to mind my own business.  It’s a problem.  I’ve tried going cold-turkey, offering myself rewards but nothing has satiated that hunger and I return once more.  I figure we all have our vices and although it’s gross there are worse things.  Maybe it’s cultural.  From my experience with the Burmese community, diasporic or not, people are constantly talking about each other.  It’s rarely malicious and they are just having a bit of fun.  So I follow that same principle with my love of gossip—I keep it light.  I could care less who is getting divorced or even who’s having babies I just like the beginnings.  I cannot help it with the love stories.

But here is where it gets interesting.  There is always the song and dance of the denial.  We have a very “special” relationship, he’s my best friend, that’s ridiculous.  Then they just start appearing in public together and after an appropriate time it’s just common knowledge that they are a partnership.  In Hollywood every couple is a brand, especially the very famous ones, so you never want to seem like you’re seeking the attention, that you’re not cool.  I would say this is the same for many public figures.  This is where I feel slightly guilty for my fascination.  In our age of social media it’s very difficult for celebrities to maintain their privacy and everyone is entitled to a private life.  With a tweet, instagram or Facebook, it’s suddenly within the public realm for consumption.  People judge you and your partner, the state of your relationship, your body, everything from that 20 second soundbyte or blurry picture.  No wonder they want to keep some things to themselves and I feel badly for prying.

It doesn’t help that I’m good at research and am an observant person.  I was born with a natural curiosity that is a source of pride and trouble all at the same time.  When someone’s behaviour does not match their public representation in the media I look for more information, I build my case and I’m usually right.  My favourite gossip queen and media personality Elaine Lui or Lainey calls this the “smutty tingles.”  Trust, I was right about Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart (I choose to believe that they were not a showmance in the “buffet that is gossip” as Lainey would say) and I’m pretty sure I’m right about my current one.  If I’m not, well I’ll eat my words and my hat.  The allure of it all is widespread, I mean there are whole fandoms out there.  After always observing the public show I sometimes wish that I was a representative for a public figure.  I would love to manage their image and cultivate interest.  Maybe next lifetime.

UPDATE: I was probably wrong.  I don’t know, they are confusing but I’m beyond caring.

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