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

Advertisements

Imagine that

Before I even turn the first page of a novel, I have to find the appropriate actor or actress to fill the part.  So many screenplays are now adapted from best-selling novels, so a trip to IMDB often suffices.  Why do we need those individuals in our mind’s eye?  Lets be honest now, they aren’t hard to look at either.

When I first read “Fifty shades of Grey” they were still casting for the roles so I was lucky enough to have my own image remain intact.  As many of you know, the book started as a fan fiction that was written for Bella and Edward from Twilight.  Well that’s easy then because you just have to imagine Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson playing some emotional and physical games.  Done.  As soon as the trailer for the actual movie was released though, my illusions were shattered and I knew I would never see the film.

First off, I personally do not know what the big scandal is with consensual BDSM.  To put it bluntly, it’s just what gets you off.  Some people like to be called sweetheart, others, well, prefer something else.  As long as it’s between two consenting adults, it’s none of our business.  We clearly have two very public instances of when it’s not alright, like when you slap a woman on the side of her head because you’re a quasi Canadian celebrity, or when you drug women to rape them.  That is not okay.

Returning to “Fifty shades” though, the casting was particularly disappointing because of the aesthetic.  I don’t think I’m being particularly superficial here since film-making is built on the principle of finding representatives to tell a story; part of that is how they look and carry themselves.  As soon as Jamie Dornan came on the screen I knew that he was too attractive and well, Dakota Johnson was a bit too sweet.  The appeal of Robert Pattinson is that he’s slightly dirty and disheveled but can still pull off a suit better than most men because he of his edge.  His history of participating in the underground London scene with all that it entails, including the substance abuse and complicated sexual pairings, somehow just is part of his physicality.  Similarly with Kristen Stewart, she doesn’t look like every other girl that you went to high school with.  Her features and personal style are a bit more unusual and couture.  She’s different and has an infuriatingly bratty attitude that you know would attract a damaged control freak like Christian Grey.

Though the writing is obviously not going to win a Pulitzer, the novel has its own market and appeal.  For all those people assuming that it’s only stifled housewives who are buying it, your thoughts are sexist and demeaning towards individuals who raised you.  Their free labour is in one of the hardest and most under-appreciated sectors in society.  Secondly, everyone has fantasies and it doesn’t make them a bad person.  There is nothing to be ashamed of.  A high-horse on the other hand is nothing to be proud of.

tumblr_neh0bdZJVc1tr18amo1_1280

Reign

There is something to be said for aging gracefully.  Nobody wants to be the last one at the party still eating the sushi when everyone else has sensibly gone home.  I think the same is true for fashion.  Everyone from Kate Spade to Alexa Chung will tell you that there is an art to changing your personal style to reflect your time on earth.  Most of the advice involves setting limits but also knowing when to push-back a little.

The two main principles involve length and choice.  Tiny shorts or skirts may no longer be as appropriate when you’re older but perhaps Bermuda shorts or pencil skirts are the way to go?  Also, what you choose in your thirties may not be as appropriate when you’re entering your fifties or sixties only because there is a slight air of desperation associated with it.  But the good news is that legging jeans are for everyone and I hope they never, ever go away.

I once expressed my reticence about taking on certain trends because I’m now a mother, to which my cousin K and bestie K responded, “you don’t look like a mother.”  In a way that made me happy because it meant that I could play around a little longer and not look ridiculous.  I believe that my personal icon when it comes to these things is Gwyneth Paltrow.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve been around girls like her since my early teens that I don’t really get my back up like others might.  She was raised in a privileged setting by two parents who probably had certain expectations for her behavior.  They probably also built up her confidence to the extent that she feels that she has something to offer.  In her case, she just does it in the realm of the lifestyle blog.  She’s not the first and will not be the last, so are all the haters planning on taking out the pitchforks for every wealthy girl down the road?  Truth be told, some of her stuff is great and you can find similar items that are more affordable from other sources.  She’s just giving you some inspiration and I like that she has something to say and something to show.

As a mother of two she also knows how to still keep a part of herself when it comes to her sartorial approach.  Gwyneth will rock the black strapless-shift dress, peasant shirt, distressed jeans and leather leggings all as someone in her early forties.  She doesn’t dress the part and her hair is long but more than anything else she just looks like she still takes care of herself.  That is what is attractive.  A woman who has not lost herself in the process of producing life.

Saying all of this though, I fully believe even though we are far from “there” being a woman in this day and age comes with a great deal of choice and freedom.  You can do whatever you want and wear whatever you want and it’s not anyone’s place to judge.  I don’t think those offering lifestyle advice are trying to tell anyone what to do.  They are just expressing how they’re currently negotiating their own identity and it’s on you to incorporate what you want.  With regards to leather leggings though, yeah, I’d probably go there.

tumblr_n5tv5ybbq71taiftro1_500

B-word

I once told my grandmother that I rarely scream but can always find the words that will truly hurt.  It’s a flaw I’m trying to fix, trust me.  When I make that snide comment is when I want to push the reset button.  I want to get back to the factory setting where the cynicism is less blatant and patience is more present.  But reality bites and here we are.  I’m just trying to be better.

As I grow older though, the less I want to apologize.  Of course I feel guilty when the conscience kicks in.  I don’t have the right to hurt people’s feelings.  It’s immature and inconsiderate but the snark is part of who I am.  As Carrie Bradshaw would say, there is the time when you don’t shut the fuck up (context: season 6, she gives Berger constructive criticism about the scrunchy).  The ability to speak up is useful when standing up for what you believe in and is part of being comfortable in your own skin.  When you don’t suffer fools.  I’ll just learn when to keep it to myself and to know the distinction between wit and negativity.  Afterall, it is not my job to enlighten the whole room, I’ll leave that to Gwyneth Paltrow.

I find there are so many words that are used to define assertive women who are not afraid to tell it like it is when the occasion calls for it.  Hint: it starts with a B and rhymes with witch.  Obviously there are negative connotations associated with it like being a nag, bossy and unladylike.  There are also ways to own it like being capable, decisive and goal-oriented.  How many B words describe men who behave in a similar way?  Bold, brash, beautiful, brave even when they are deserving of the description of bully.  Perhaps it’s because they don’t make excuses and their socially constructed gender gives them more leeway to go after what they want.

Earlier this year Hillary Clinton mused on her experience with youth and gender: “and it’s always surprising to me how many young women think they have to be perfect,” Clinton said. “I rarely meet a young man who doesn’t think he already is.”

Hell, if appearing to be perfect and leveraging my abilities and intelligence allows me to win, I’m all in.  Is that what it takes?  No apologies.

tumblr_ndz73wd0Si1taiftro1_500

Catalysts and math

Whenever a production company is trying to sell a movie they start throwing around words like “chemistry,” “undeniable,” “connection.”  Nine out of ten times it will work because it is the catnip for us romantics.  Now, don’t play shy, you know it’s irresistible when you see it in your office, the grocery store, the parking lot.  I know that you smile.  So when it is available for public consumption?  There is nothing better.

I  highly doubt that it’s just smoke and mirrors.  You can’t fake chemistry.  You either have it or you don’t and some pairings work so well.  Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart come to mind, whatever you have to say about their former open-relationship and bisexual arrangement.  I don’t know why anyone’s surprised.  Rules are not always the smart choice in hollyweird where they pay the bills by kissing and pretending to love other people.  How many conventional relationships do you think exist there?  Who’s to say these arrangements are any less healthy than our “normal” relationships?

But returning to the topic of chemistry it can destabilize many foundations but that doesn’t mean that a relationship or commitment will result from it.  I think after they’ve done it for a few years, actors just attribute that strong emotional connection to character bleed and move on.  Have you ever seen a behind the scenes look?  Couples are not formed in that awkward studio with those giant microphones.  They are created in whisperings in trailers when they are “rehearsing” far from their families, responsibilities and home.  I also think they recognize that this artificial environment and the feelings felt there do not always stand up in the daylight.  The soft glow of the fantasy cannot withstand the glare of everyday life.  There are exceptions of course.  Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet have a beautiful friendship post-Titantic.  She even wears a plain gold band from him, engraved with a message, underneath her wedding ring.  I reiterate, rules don’t exist the same way for celebrities with all of that wealth and freedom to choose.  Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz also returned to their former lives and gave it another go, before realizing that they actually wanted to be with each other.  So they cut the ties, wed and returned to living very private lives.  Sometimes you can’t get it out of your system, and you’re not meant to.

The catalyst aspect of these chemical reactions is what fascinates me.  Because some never begin, others die out while a rare few will survive.  These are just questions because I don’t believe that there are well-formed answers as to why this happens.  They just do.  In December I was marking mid-terms at the public library.  I was amongst the entire student body of North Toronto CI who were pretending to study.  Now if the chatter wasn’t distracting enough there were two “friends” helping each other out with Calculus.  I put the label in quotations because everything associated with the beginning was right there: the flirting, the leaning, the laughing.  God, I felt like I was 17 again.  Then his girlfriend showed up.  And I was like, oh, it’s that grey zone.  When she kept looking over with concerned looks I felt badly, because I thought, honey, I’m sorry but I’m not sure you’re going to like how this story gets played out.  One of her guy friends even gave me a knowing look.  Everyone at the table knew.  Sure enough, two months ago I was leaving the library and guess who are now a couple?  Calculus friends.

Chemistry can blow.  I felt badly for the ex.  But the new couple was cute.

f87b3a56986a097bf37c9d1ccce39dff