Thursday, November 5, 2009

all good things...

This is my last night in Canada.

I don't really know what to say, other than that. My whole world is about to change, in a very literal sense. And I still can't really get a grasp on what that means to me, even though it all happens tomorrow.

The thing is, I love being a Canadian. And I suppose that that in itself will not change. I will always be a Canadian even if, three years down the line, I pass the test for citizenship in my new chosen country.

But I also love living in Canada. The well-defined seasons have always been a way of marking the course of my life. And winter, here in Southern Manitoba - it is a thing to behold, and not for the faint of heart, or the easily chilled. I will miss the snow, the cold. Yes, even the days when it is -35 and you can feel the frosty air turn to crystals inside your nose. How will it ever be Christmas again if I can't look out the window Christmas morning to see three feet of snow on the ground?

I love how Canadians are regarded in the world. We may often be thought of with a bemused smile and a tolerant chuckle, the kind you have for your four-year old little sister wanting to tag along with the big boys. But who out there really thinks badly of us? Or even hates us? We may not be a big player in the grand scheme of things, but we hold our heads high (or, at least blush bashfully) at knowing that the world at large is indifferent towards us. And maybe even like us a little.

There are so many things I will miss here. Things that if you asked me two years ago, I may not have been able to contemplate living without.

So much has changed in these past two years.

My life has been one of very little change. I have lived with my parents my whole life. I have lived in the same house for 33 years. I have not had a career, a family, a life to really call my own. My job was to make it through each day, and the pain each new day brought, with my sanity and sense of humour intact. Most days I managed that. Many days I even managed it with a smile still on my face.

And then I met him. My Guy. And he changed everything. Absolutely everything.

I am leaving behind my friends, my family, my home, my country. Dropping everything to be where he is, to move across the world, adopt a whole new country, and soon a whole new name.

I expected to be nervous. To be scared of going into the unknown, moving to a country I have never even visited before. I expected to be sad at all the partings, saying goodbye to so many people that I have no real expectation of ever seeing again. I will go from seeing my parents every day for the past 36 years, to seeing them maybe once every couple of years.

But here's the thing. I am not scared. I am not nervous. I am not even particularly sad -certainly not as sad as my family seems to expect me to be. I can't be. Not any of it.

Because I know what I am going to. I may not know what strange foods I may find on the grocery store shelves in place of my familiar favourites. Or what it will be like to experience winter with more rain than snow. Or how I will manage to spend Christmas at someone else's mother's house. Or how odd it will feel to sit on the wrong side of the car, on the wrong side of the road. Or any of the thousands of other changes and differences that I haven't even been able to imagine yet. But none of that matters.

I am going to be with My Guy. The man who finally brought love into my life. Someone who makes me feel beautiful when I am in his presence. A man with more patience, tolerance, compassion and caring than I ever knew existed in this world. Someone who loves me as much as I love him - and for whom I have more love than I ever thought it was possible for one human heart to hold. And that is enough for me to know. Everything else will come with time. But he is over there in England waiting for me. So that's where I'm going.

I'm coming home, sweetness. Be there soon.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

...all dressed in white

Or ivory. Whatever. Don't be picky!

I promised you people the tale of my wedding gown. And, since I never break a promise (although I may procrastinate a week or two before I get around to it), here it is for you.

A couple of weekends ago I went wedding dress shopping with Big Sis. Now, the more clever of you will already have picked up on something. But, TeDiouS, you are likely thinking, you are still in Canada. Your wedding is in England. How will you get your dress to England? In one piece? Without it costing a fortune?

Gah! Stop pestering me! I'll worry about that later. (And trust me, I will!)

Big Sis and I started out that Saturday bright and early, intending to accomplish two things: selling my book collection at the used book store, and trying on wedding gowns for hours. After dropping off her dogs at their grooming appointment. So okay, three things. Leave me alone, it was early!

We dutifully got the dogs to the groomer, still rubbing sleep from our eyes, when we both had a sudden realization. It was before nine on a Saturday morning. In what world did we expect to find either the bookstore or the bridal salons open at this hour? So, our intended quick bite on the way to the shops turned into an agonizing hour at Tim Hortons lingering over a pumpkin muffin (which I highly recommend you try next year when they roll them out again for thanksgiving. Kind of like pumpkin pie in breakfast form. How is that not a good thing?) Have you ever sat in a Tim Hortons for that long? They don't exactly build the place for comfort. Plus they have those signs looming over you on the walls. The ever-so-polite ones in adamant red that say "We enjoy your company, however NO LOITERING. 20 minutes only, please". Ack! Whenever I am there longer than twenty minutes I start to feel all Catholic about it, and the guilt is overwhelming. I am sure every employee is staring at me, shaking their heads in disappointment. I mean, they said please and everything...

We finally made it out of the Tim Hortons without anyone calling the cops on us, or getting a ticket, or whatever they do when you overstay your welcome at Timmie's. Since the bookstore didn't open until eleven, which we cleverly figured out by phoning information, (which we could have even more cleverly done the night before) we decided that dress shopping first would be the better plan.

Big Sis parked under Portage Place in downtown Winnipeg. She had a couple of things she wanted to pick up in the mall and at The Bay, and then we would wander out onto Portage Avenue. Which is basically one long row of bridal shops. Storefront after storefront of mannequins all dressed for the happiest day of their lives. I get a warm fuzzy feeling just thinking about it. *sighs dreamily*

And I didn't get to set foot in a damned one of them! More on that later.

While we were in The Bay, Big Sis decided we may as well visit their bridal shop and look at dresses there before risking life and hairdo in the winds of Portage Avenue. The saleslady was busy fitting another bride so we poked around the dresses ourselves for a bit, picking out two I might actually be able to afford. Turns out I do not look all that attractive in an affordable wedding gown. The first one I tried on looked very dignified and classy for a bride of my age. In the worst sort of way. It was the sort of dress that said yes, I have waited until my mid-thirties to get married for the first time...why am I even bothering? Until I tried it on. And then I nearly choked on my tongue. There was no way I could be seen in a church in that dress! I would spontaneously combust the second I walked in. In order to give you people the proper mental picture, let me just say that it was the first and only time I have ever used the word boobalicious in a sentence. Now, I am not a small-chested girl, sitting snugly in an E-cup. This dress took that and ran with it...even I couldn't stop staring at my cleavage. It was mesmerizing. But not exactly where I wanted everyone's stare to be focussed on my wedding day. In a church.

So off with that one, and onto the next. Once we stopped laughing. It was a proper wedding gown, this one, with a halter neck and an A-line skirt, all in satin, not a lot of blingy embellishment. That one didn't stay on long. It did bad things for my shoulders, emphasizing the imbalance in them and pretty much framing all those scars. And the rest of the dress wasn't flattering in any particular way either. It didn't even have the hilarity factor of the previous one. So off it went too.

At this point I decided to just try on anything I really liked, rather than sticking with things I might actually be able to afford. The point of this day, after all, was not to actually buy a dress. I had merely wanted the experience of trying on dresses with my sisters (Lil Sis phoned me back too late, or she would have been there too). Seeing what looked good on me, trying on anything I wanted, just being a Barbie doll for the day and getting to put on all sorts of princessy dresses. And then I would buy something sensible and affordable when I got to England.

But then I tried on the third dress. It was one I had seen hanging outside another dressing room, and just loved how it looked draped over that hook and spilling across the floor. It looked the way a wedding dress should look, at least in my imaginings. The second Big Sis helped me tug and struggle and trip my way into it, I knew I was in love. I immediately wanted to head out to the big mirror, step up on that block that makes you look like your legs are six feet long, and get a look at every angle of myself. I loved everything I saw.

The seamstress came along and between her and my sis they managed to get me zipped into the thing. I gazed speechless on my reflection, light-headed and hardly able to breathe. Which may have had something to do with the dress reducing my lung capacity to that of a gnat, but mostly I think it was awe. I felt....bridal. My first thought was how much I wanted My Guy to see me in this dress on our wedding day. It was my dress.

Other brides in the shop were complimenting me on the dress. They would look at me and smile, nod, knowing I had found the one. Either because they had already experienced that moment themselves, or were still waiting for it. I felt...beautiful.

And thin!

Only one problem. And a big one. I couldn't afford it. Not by a long shot. And I told the saleslady so. She looked at the tag, looked at me glowing in that dress, and told me that if I was willing to take the one I was trying on, it was a 2009 sample they were trying to get rid of to make room for the 2010s (when did wedding dress shopping turn into car shopping?), and she could offer it to me at half price. My heart missed a beat or two. I had no plans to buy a dress! How would I get it home to me in England? How much would it cost to get it shipped there? How would I get it looking like a wedding gown again after it had been squashed in a box and traveled for thousands of miles?

Who cares?! This was my dress, and I could no longer think of getting married in anything else. So, one frantic phone call to England to talk it over with My Guy, and one promise from Big Sis to pay for half of the dress (even at half price, it was still well over my budget) as well as handling getting it shipped out to me once the alterations were done, and suddenly I had my wedding gown. After trying on three dresses. In the first bridal shop I had set foot in.

Fortunately, the alterations needed were all simple and straight-forward and nothing that requires a second fitting in any desperate way. The hem needs taking up and the straps need taking down. And they are adding a laced back and taking out the zipper, which will take care of the whole problem of actually being able to breathe on my wedding day. And that's it. Everything else fits like it was made for me. It is a total princess dress, with a full skirt and a train, tulle over top of satin, with lace edging and appliqué, some beading. It is exactly what I want My Guy to see me in the day I finally marry him.

When I got home later and was telling My Guy about the dress, I had him guess from which store I had bought it. And he did, instantly. Because the one bridal shop I had ever been to before was with him. We were in Portage Place after we got engaged and ended up at The Bay, wandering through their bridal department. Hating and laughing at every single dress we saw. They were hideous, every last one of them! The saleslady gave us a magazine full of their gown options, and we looked over it later, making fun of the dresses that looked like the poor model was dragging a down duvet behind her, or the ones that looked like a silk florist's had exploded. There was not a single wearable gown in the bunch. But, oh what a difference a season makes in fashion!

I have my dream wedding gown, beyond all expectation or hope. And now is when the worry sets in. Will it get shipped to me in time? Will it survive the trip? Will I be able to find someone on the other end who can make it look as beautiful as it should once it has been crammed into a box and traveled across the ocean?

I find at this point, on the verge of leaving for England in five days, that I have new worries popping up all the time, many of them centering on the wedding. And I have people telling me how much stress is involved in weddings, especially since we will have to arrange ours so quickly once I get there. I have to say, so far there has been no real stress involved. The wedding itself was arranged in an afternoon by My Guy, the dress-buying was accomplished in one shop, having tried on three gowns. This has been a piece of cake!

You just know I am dooming myself to wedding-planning hell now, don't you?

So, all you married people out there, how did you handle the wedding stress? Was there any? What is the worst thing that went wrong on your wedding day? Or did everything go perfectly smoothly? I need to know, people!

But I have my dress. And I can't wait for him to see me in it. :o)