Flipping back the pages in the Book of Steve is fascinating.
We had this epic long distance courtship for two years and while we spent that time trying to really get to know each other (mostly finding out that he hates crowds, is not a picky eater, doesn’t stress out over things he can’t control and, of course, is a avid birder), I really didn’t know that much about where he grew up. Sure, I met his family a couple of times while we dated, but that didn’t reveal too much to me. You see, I grew up a West Coast gal and Steve grew up on the East Coast. Not only that, he’s Canadian and I’m from the U.S.
See? Way different. So, when I learned I had a conference in Toronto Steve suggested we visit places in Ontario so he could show me around, which was a great idea because who was this guy I’d been married to for five years?
Let’s start with church
Now, I always love visiting the Anglican Church he attended when he was a child. (It makes my mother-in-law very happy too, when we visit.) Steve gave me his own tour of the Forest Hill neighborhood church and showed me the places where he would hide and eventually get into trouble. What I learned about my husband: He was a normal mischievous boy.
Now let’s get political
For anyone getting an immersion into their husband’s Canadian life, head to the nation’s capital, which is what we did. We toured the Parliament buildings and even listened in on a session of Parliament, which aside from the occasional French, seemed awfully like a session of congress in the U.S. in that the left was arguing in favor of taxes on businesses and the right was vehemently opposed. What I learned about my husband was this: He likes to listen to the French interpretation on the headphones.
Time to eat
This part isn’t new. Both Steve and I love to eat. Ottawa is packed full of lots of fantastic restaurants and our first night there we stopped by an Ethiopian restaurant, which was highly recommended by our bed and breakfast hosts. To be honest, I’ve always found the idea of Ethiopian restaurants odd because all during college all I heard about Ethiopia was that the people were starving. This can’t bode well for a restaurant idea, I thought.
But an Ethiopian restaurant fit perfectly with the theme of this trip: Steve is going to teach me something new. Even if it means eating with your hands. (I had to check around in the restaurant to make sure that everyone else was eating with their hands because, yes, it wouldn’t surprise me if Steve just made that whole thing up about how to eat Ethiopian food.)
And no, we didn’t starve here. The food was pretty fantastic and there was plenty of it. What I learned about Steve: He can’t complain anymore if there isn’t a clean utensil in the house.
My husband got sent to Boarding School
When I first met Steve he told me about how he went to boarding school when he was a kid. “Were you bad?” I asked.
“No, why do you ask that?” He really was puzzled.
“Because in the movies when the kids are bad they are always threatened by some adult that they’ll be sent to boarding school.” I explained. “Have you never seen The Sound of Music?”
Turns out Steve loved going to boarding school. Essentially they’re prep schools for über smart kids. What I learned about Steve: He’s über smart. (Okay, I already knew that.)
There’s a family cottage, natch.
Not only is there a family cottage but it’s in Gatineau Park and not in Ontario but (gasp) Quebec. I think. I couldn’t tell when we actually were in Quebec or in Ontario. I mean, there were French signs everywhere, but I never was clear on where the actual cottage was, except it looked like this:
So does it really matter which province? I didn’t think so either. What I learned about my husband here: He comes from a family of cottage owners so I need to stay on the good side of everyone.
Why I will always get the Royal Treatment
There’s a reason why Steve makes the bed with hospital corners, why he likes a list of things to do (he actually loves the Honey-do list, guys), and why he likes to watch war movies. It’s all because he went to the Royal Military College. That’s why he wore this uniform to our wedding:
Touring the campus of the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario was a real treat. We met up with his old college buddy who took us around some of the buildings. But most of all I remember the story he told about how the Canadian flag came about, which is not completely recorded on the plaque below and apparently involved a great deal of liquor. But don’t quote me on that. I’m not Canadian and I probably shouldn’t know that little bit of info.
What I learned about Steve here: This stop explained a lot about my husband. His long family legacy in the military and his love of country. Plus, he looks so damn good in that uniform for our wedding.
There’s no way to rewind a movie and playback all the events in Steve’s life, but walking in the shadows of where he once walked enables me to understand him a little bit more. It has given me perspective and understanding that no amount of conversation would have opened up for me.
And we’re going to be eating with our hands from now on. In uniform. In a cottage on a lake somewhere. Speaking French.