- by Alyson Shane
John and I got married right before the pandemic hit, back when you could hug people and hang in crowded bars and scream into karaoke mics at the janky nightclub just off of Front Street in Caye Caulker, Belize, where we got married, without worrying about getting sick.
We talked about "the Coronavirus" breakout in China with strangers on the day of our wedding.
I remember listening to reports on NPR about it while we were in Toronto on our way home
hoping it wouldn't hit Pearson until we were back in Winnipeg aka flyover country.
We got lucky. So so so lucky.
We managed to get 36 people down to a tiny island off the coast of Belize for 10 glorious days of
drinking beers on the beach
lounging in the ocean at the Sip N Dip
and eating waaaaaay too much seafood
right before the world fell apart.
We've talked about that a lot since then, while we've been cooped up in our house for
months on end
talking about The Wedding as if it was some big, beautiful dream.
Which in a way, it was.
We knew that, for most of the people coming, our wedding would be either
their first trip outside of Canada/the States
their first trip to a tropical place
their first trip to Belize
their first trip off-resort, or
in some cases
a blend of some or all of the above.
Weddings are special and all, but we didn't want our wedding to be "just another day" or "just another trip to Windsor/Winnipeg"
we wanted something weird, special, and memorable
and by some weird, fucked-up stroke of luck, that's what we got.
The perfect trip. The perfect wedding. The perfect reminder that we're so lucky to have the friends and family that we do.
People who trust us enough to follow us on an adventure
who dress up like 18th century monks and write rap songs about us
whose laughs we could hear echoing down the street as we walked to meet them
(the thought of it makes me teary-eyed)
a lot of whom we haven't had the chance to see since the pandemic started.
These past two years have made me realize how lucky I am to have married John.
Locking down was one of the easiest parts about the pandemic because I spent all my time around my best friend
(who drives me crazy less often than I would have guessed)
but it's still been weird having most of our marriage defined by this thing that happened
right as it started
and that's still affecting it, two years in.
Still, some of the best parts of the last two years (and being married so far)
have been the times we've spent at home together.
Two years of planning and saving and strategizing
writing silly songs and practicing epic covers
planning outdoor hangs and DnD campaigns on Zoom
cooking amazing food and making fancy cocktails for ourselves
making art, writing, sprucing up the new homestead.
Somehow we always seem to find a way to make the most of the situation we're in.
Lately, since the latest round of Covid cases has had us staying home as much as we can
we've been listening to records when we make dinner and play games in the dining room
Motown, old rock n roll, blues, you name it
these daily moments of intimacy feel like a break from the rest of the world.
A world that feels crazy and scary sometimes
that feels overwhelming and unmanageable
that feels frustrating and unfair and upsetting
these feelings fade away with the smell of something cooking and the sound of vinyl crackling.
The other night while Elvis was on I said to John
"dance with me"
so he did
taking my hand in his and putting the other on the small of my back
holding me close.
We swayed slowly as the music played, singing the words softly, my head on his shoulder
wishing I could stay there forever but knowing that as soon as the song ended
we're right back to facing the world together
the crazy highs, the toughest lows
making magic and memories
and turning everything into an adventure
this year, and every year ahead.
I hope we get many more of them to share.
- by Alyson Shane
Our story started before we met.
It started in the gyms and basements and concert halls where John played in his high school band, Sewing With Nancie.
It started when I took a job working at a McDonalds so my mom wouldn't throw me out of the house every day with nowhere to go.
It started when John moved here at 18 after meeting a cute girl on a school band trip.
It started when I met Peter, my shift supervisor, who spoke with a lisp like Homestarrunner
(which I thought - and still do think - is super charming)
who offered to give me a lift home and put a Sewing With Nancie CD in the car stereo.
"I love this band" he told me "my friends and I used to carpool around from Windsor, to Brantford, to London, and all over to see these guys play."
It started when I was in Peter's car on the Perimeter Highway listening to lo-fi punk songs like Dave Stieb and grimy covers of Time After Time.
Then our story didn't pick up again for several years.
When we did finally meet it was several years later, at a baby shower for a mutual friend. What I remember most about that day was
the brown sweater vest John was wearing
how good the snacks were
how huge John's mouth is when he smiles
and how much he made me laugh.
It was probably obvious to everyone around us how well we got along, how similar our interests were, and how well-suited to each other we were, which was complicated by the fact that we were both seeing other people
(if only love were an easy, straightforward thing)
but when a writer meets another writer who has a collection of books that rivals their own
well, what can you do
the heart wants what it wants.
Our story is told in an email filled with hopes, dreams, and an Oscar Wilde quote.
It's told in the lyrics of my favourite Royal Canoe song, which I listened to on a rainy, heartbroken walk home to close one chapter of my life and begin another filled with months of stress, anguish, and strain.
Our story through that time is told through the poems I wrote and burned, or tucked into John's pockets, or tore up to get caught by the wind over the Osborne Bridge where I'd trudged home in the rain, knowing what I needed to do the day that everything changed.
It continues to be told through the sayings and pictures and lore of our relationship, recorded in a series of notebooks and cards and scraps of paper with words or drawings on them.
Bears. A She. A He. The Twin Moons of the planet Bayor. The Üdavs!
It's told through the matching ink on our ribs, shaped like the Great Bear constellation. A permanent record of an incredible adventure that's just ours to share and hold and keep forever.
Our story is told through the video of our engagement
(which I just re-watched, and cried all the way through)
where John surprised me on my 30th birthday in front of all our friends, and where I (ever the classy dame) blurted out "oh for fuck's sake" as soon as he dropped down on one knee
and in the email where he wrote his proposal, mirroring that life-changing email that he sent
five years ago today.
I couldn't have imagined, then, that we would be where we are now.
Our story isn't an easy one: it's one filled with doubt and anxiety and discovery and lots of change. It's been a roller coaster of businesses and projects and family and self-discovery.
But the best stories aren't the boring stories, anyway.
The best stories are the ones about overcoming obstacles, and challenges, and growth. The best stories are about taking risks and doing the scary things and
following your heart
even when that means changing your whole life to do it.
(The heart wants what it wants, after all.)
It's only in looking back that we can see how the little things
a band trip
a temporary job
a CD in someone's stereo
a baby shower
string together like words on a page.
When I collect all these stories, scoop them up in my arms and bind them together into a weighty tome of jokes, hopes, dreams, fears, and friendship and hold them close to my chest, pressed against my heart
it reminds me that the stories we tell are all we really have of the people we love.
I clutch at these stories because I know my time with this incredible, strange specimen of a man is fleeting, and has already slipped through my fingers in a blur of weekdays and Saturday mornings and festivals and trips
faster than I could have expected.
Years of our lives, though spent together, are gone, and all I can do is keep these memories safe and protected.
To not take them for granted, or allow details to get lost in the fuzzy haze of history.
To record Our Story as diligently and truthfully as I can.
To honour the story of Bears. Of John Luxford and Alyson Shane.
The most important story I know.