Come the summer of ’87, after first year at Royal Roads Military College, it was time to take French courses at Royal Military College (RMC) in Kingston, Ontario. RMC is set on several areas with significant lake frontage and several huge piers on Lake Ontario. That summer was a lot of fun. Being in the city of Kingston was exciting and the summer sun would see us laying out on the big docks on campus and running and jumping off the piers and swimming in Lake Ontario.
That was the summer my friend and I met a couple of guys while driving on the 401 to Toronto. Communications were done not by cell phone, which were almost nonexistent, but at high-speed via black sharpies and large note pads. Writing greetings and then holding them up to the window for the fellas in the nearby car to read. We ended up asking them, by note, to meet us in downtown Toronto at Mr. Green Jeans restaurant in the Toronto Eaton’s Centre. They made it! And, we had a chatty dinner with them: Doug and J.R.. Afterward, we went to the Hard Rock Café until my bus was ready to depart for Walden.
J.R. and I ended up seeing each other all summer, but, alas, then it was time for me to go back to Victoria, BC. Interestingly, he was a southern lad and an Infantry lieutenant in the US Army and was stationed across the border from Kingston in Fort Drum near Watertown, NY. I’ll never forget the fun of how we met. So random. So different.
Second year began at Royal Roads Military College (RRMC). But, my heart was not in it. I didn’t enjoy the academics. Most of my Profs were mind-numbingly boring or struggled with the English language, even my English prof. (To be fair, I did really like my Chemistry and History profs). It was not how I wanted to spend my time. I asked to be entered into the program allowing a cadet to go straight into a career posting. I got it, but it was not until the following year. I was told I would become an Army Logistics Officer and that training would begin in October 1988 in Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden, Ontario.
Okay great, but, what would happen to me for the year???
For several months I was put to work in the Castle. Hatley Castle at RRMC. Severely boring work, just managing paper and simple tasks. I had to do quite a bit of photocopying and would inevitably run into this same civilian woman who had been working there for decades. She would coldly ask me every time I saw her: ‘So….you’re still here are ya?’
Hmmm. Thanks. I would not speak for fear of crying. It was so mean. Her cold and judgmental attitude. It’s not like I wasn’t already feeling like a fish out of water. I would just nod and smile, not daring to open my mouth.
In the winter, the best thing to happen was that I was sent on a week-long ski trip to Mount Washington with several others working in the castle as well as some members from CFB Esquimalt. Classified as ‘Adventure Training’ so all expenses covered. After unpacking our gear in our quarters, a bunch of us went out to a pub and shared jugs of beer and danced and danced and danced. It was going to be a good week. And it was. I was so needing that week away and outlet in exercise and fresh air with a fun group. The skiing was incredible with tons of fresh white stuff and ‘The Black Chair’ pub at the end of the day where we would gather to share snacks and beer and just shoot the shit.
After a couple months, I was sent to CFB Comox, BC, up island, for administration support at the Air Traffic Control Tower. That was interesting. Ironically, the best thing about it was learning how to use a new word processor called Word Perfect. That came in handy later.
One time, at the mess (which is like a pub but only for Officers), I was fortunate enough to be in the company of the highly skilled Snowbird Team still dressed in their flight suits. We shared a few drinks, played darts and made jokes. One joke that I made was about my colourful vest. That it looked rather like I had ‘killed’ my couch. The beer helped make that one funny. They laughed, just to be nice.
I began playing on a slow pitch team and met some good folks. One of them was Stevie. Steve was a lumberjack up in Tofino. He was also an avid mountain biker. He and his buddy and I would go on mountain biking day trips to Denman and Hornby Islands. Challenging trails but extremely fun too. Stevie taught me all about mountain biking. I entered a 75 k race over a hill on a logging road. It was a sweaty experience and my ass was sore for days.
Suddenly, it was time to go East for training in logistics.
I bought a new little car: a 1988 Chevrolet Sprint, 3 cylinder. I began the journey across Canada, stopping each night in a flea-bitten crap motel advertising colour tv, my ass sore and my eyes glazed over from the miles and miles of the day.
It took me six days to arrive in London, Ontario at my eldest sister Eva’s house. I scared the living be-jesus out of her walking into the house unannounced and finding her concentrating on something with her back to me. She was so happy to see me, jumping up and down, screaming, crying and hugging me. No kidding. We take our greetings seriously. She wanted to know how long I could stay. I told her about heading to Borden for a course the next day. I could stay only one night. It was a nice time and we caught up on all the news. I saw her again on various weekends and usually with a friend.
It was a couple of hours drive to Base Borden where I started my clearing in process: getting the key to my barrack room mainly. Classes started the very next morning for the Basic Logistics Officers Course.
The first person I met on the course is now my husband.
I walked into the training building out of the rain on that chill October morning and shrugged out of my army issue trench coat. With my right hand, I reached up to hang it on a hook, one of many along the corridor. Just as I did so, my gaze shifted left and my eyes met those of a new classmate. He smiled and said, ‘Hi’.
I saw stars. I literally saw stars.
I was instantly in love with this very good looking dark haired, green-eyed man who was grinning handsomely and looking down at me as his left hand reached to hang his coat.
I floated into class.
Later we had an English grammar test and He achieved a perfect score. I knew then that it was Him.
He was gorgeous, sweet, gentle and intelligent. When I saw him kick a soccer ball, I swooned. It was poetry in motion. I began to pray…
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