Paris 🇫🇷 to Madrid 🇪🇸,

So this is my documentation of the longest 38 hours of my life. It involves delays, deceit, anger, a terrible amount of B/O, free beer, theft and the most refreshing shower I’ve ever had. I’ll say that this day was quite possibly the most stressful day of my year, but there was a lot of laughs that day. So like every day when I was in Paris, I had to get up super early, this time it was so I could catch my flight to Madrid. Getting to the airport was super easy because there’s a bus that goes directly to Orly airport. This is the end of “running smoothly” for the day. I flew with Transavia; I was forced to check in my duffle bag as I wasn’t allowed to bring two bags onto the plane. Finding the place where I needed to check that bag was painstaking, and no one wanted to help me.

Next up, after paying 45 Euros to check the bag, I went to the assigned gate. To my surprise I was not selected for further screening, the woman with the hijab in front of me was. Okay, I’m almost 100% that happened because she had a small child with her and a stroller. I apologise for the cynicism. When I got to the gate, I noticed it had been changed, and I’d have to go downstairs. Once there we were shuttled to another part of the airport, from there we waited about an hour and then began to board the plane. There was PLENTY of room for everyone to bring two bags, but its a budget airline to they have to make money somehow. Here’s where all hell breaks loose, we had to wait an extra 45 minutes for 13 passengers to arrive as they’d missed the shuttle. There were some moaning and groaning but nothing bad. When all passengers were accounted for we began the safety checks and demonstrations. As we were backing up and the engines were about to get going, we lost all power, and the plane stopped, and the lights turned off. It’s only after that I realised that we could’ve been in the air and fell out of the sky. We waited another 45 minutes while they tried to fix it, they couldn’t.

Back to the terminal where we were told to wait until 3:30, I was on holiday so whatever, I could expect. 3:30 comes, we’re told we’ll be fed and taken back to the main terminal, and we’d await further instructions. We were not fed well, and there was a PlayStation in the terminal that I didn’t see, so I sat there like a shmuck reading. By the time we’d gotten fed and were waiting in the terminal, it was already 5 pm. People were pissed off, and some had even left to take the train or book another flight. Around 5:30 I received an email saying they’ve put us all on another plane and it was leaving at 7. When we got to the gate they’d changed that time to 7:45, sorry, “Around 7:45 pm.” I sat there talking to some people, angrily tweeting as I’d begun to … let’s say, expire. I was also a little concerned my hostel wouldn’t hold my reservation, but an email fixed that. When 8:30 there were legitimate yelling fits, and some people had to be held back, there was also no plane in the dock. I had no choice but to sit there and watch Donald Trump videos; it’s a hobby of mine. The guy is such a dumbass; it’s almost hard to believe.

At 9:30 we boarded the plane, so it’s all good right? Wrong. The plane was a lot bigger than the one we were supposed to take, so there were no people in the back. This would affect the way the plane took off, it was to front heavy, and that was dangerous. So began the task to move people around, this caused another delay and some more yelling. I felt horrible for the flight attendants who were just doing their jobs, and I’ll admit they did a great job. At 10:48 we finally left Paris and were treated to complimentary food and drink. The flight attendant gave me five beers, one I drank and 4 I gave to random drunk people on the metro. At the airport I met an older Aussie gentleman named Peter, he was in Madrid for, and I’m quoting him here, “Why the fuck not?” This dude was pretty old, so good for him. I ended up meeting someone else on the metro, and he helped me get to the hostel. We got off at the stop, Sol which is the central hub. There were people everywhere, drinking, dancing and enjoying one another’s company. Madrid, after being there for about an hour I could tell that it was a party town. When I got to the hostel, I smelled like crap and just wanted to shower, that’s exactly what I did. When I woke up I tried to watch the highlights of the Habs game, they suck. I ended falling asleep in front of my laptop, and that’s when someone stole my MacBook. I was on the top bunk, asleep in in front of it and was out for about half an hour and gone! I couldn’t believe it, but hey what can I do? I filed a report and went on my first day in Madrid a little disappointed, but I could’ve had my passport or wallet taken.

Paris Pt. 3 🇫🇷

My last full day in Paris I wanted to do all the lame tourist things. So the Louvre, Cathedral of Norte Dame, the Grande Palace, the Pantheon, the Sacre-Coeur, Tuileries Garden, Laduree, and the Catacombs of Paris. If you’re reading that list and you’re rolling your eyes, I walked to all of these, so I’m sure I saw a lot more. I think Christmas in Paris is just … let’s go with, Magical. During the day there are all the decorations and festive vibe that overcomes the city and during the night everything gets lite up and the city sparkles.

My last day I woke up super early so I could get to the Louvre. Naturally, I wanted to see the Mona Lisa. I’ll save you some time, go to google and google, “Mona Lisa Louvre” Go ahead, do that now. Looks chaotic right? Well, I got lucky because I have a European student card which means I get in for free. Almost every person there that morning was there to see the Mona Lisa, all the other cool things inside kind of get cast aside. Now I did get to see it because I was a least a foot taller than anyone else in there. The Mona Lisa is small; it’s protected by bulletproof glass and there is a perimeter set up so people can’t get to close. To me, definitely not worth. I didn’t spend a lot of time in the Louvre, but it is a cool place. It’s beautiful inside and out. There’s a little high-end shopping centre attached to the Louvre where you can get overpriced coffee from Starbucks (I went and bought a mug) When I got outside you can see everything that Paris has to offer. I apologise for the photos because the weather was less than cooperative.

Again I had one of those moments where I couldn’t believe where I was. The Tuileries Garden is right in front of the Louvre, it isn’t in bloom, but nevertheless, it’s beautiful. My next stop after the Louvre and Garden was to head to the second most iconic place in Paris, The Cathedral of Notre Dame. Yes, as a kid I watched Disney movies almost religiously. Anything new that came out on VHS I had to get. Mom and I had a bet, if I did well in school (which I did when I wasn’t busy being a badass) I’d either get McDonald’s or if I did really well, I’d get one of those Disney VHS and pretty much spend the weekend making sure I knew the movie inside and out. One of the first ones I got was The Hunchback of Notre Dame. If you’ve been following the blog from the beginning it is evident that I’m a nerd so this shouldn’t surprise you, I’ve read the book by Victor Hugo.

Pretty cool eh? I stood outside for a long time taking in the sights. Perhaps I stood out there too long as I kept getting approached people to take pictures of them in front of the Cathedral and tree. Going inside was surreal, again with it being Christmas time there were decorations and people everywhere. Inside you’ll find the history of the Cathedral and a line that if you follow it takes you right up and through to the catwalk overlooking Paris. I’m a little afraid of heights, and it is a tight squeeze, so I decided against it. From here I decided to go to one of a few Canadian bars in Paris, again at this point, I was just missing home. I don’t remember the name of the bar, but it’s super close to the cathedral. When I went in, I was surprised to find that the bartenders where expats and we chatted a little about Canada and how great Canada is, and how beautiful Canada is and how Canada is the best and Canada has the… We both missed home. The other bartender however was not as friendly. The one I was talking to said: “She’s been here so long she thinks she’s a Parisian.” I chuckled and then paid my tab and left. Let’s just say there is a difference between being French and being a Parisian.

I decided that I’d pass on going to the catacombs, just in case I had another panic attack (Haven’t had one since Rome.) So I went to indulge my massive sweet tooth and headed for Laduree. Now I’ve written about some real personal things on here, and I’m about to share something once again. Firstly, on my way there I swear to god I’ve never needed to pee so badly in my entire life. I couldn’t find a bathroom to save my life so I ended up taking a leak on someone’s boat. Not like going inside and using the bathroom, but like against their docked boat. I’m a terrible person I know. I was also heading to Laduree because, this is hard to admit but a lot of what I did in Paris sort of kind of reminded me of my ex and I knew that Laduree would be one of the things, had she been there, that she’d want to see. I have her gift wrapped in the bag I got from there. I don’t think she reads this anymore so like I won’t be ruining the “surprise.” I got there in record time and didn’t wet myself, so I deserved something, that something turned out to be four overpriced macaroons and an eclair. No, they did not make it back to the hostel.

I want to say this, the building looks pink, that’s because I spent some time editing the photo. It was raining, and the building looked like a shittier version of Ollivander’s wand shop from Harry Potter. Yes, I made that reference. When I got back to my room I took the best nap I’ve had in a long time, and I managed to get another blanket and just burrito myself in the corner. When I got up, I went for Chinese food again and hoped on the metro for one last glimpse of the Eiffel Tower and check out the Sacre-Coeur, which was bhind my Hostle. Here’s what I want to say about Paris before I post the next photos, its a great city with a lot of culture. I had a lot of “Wow” Moments, moments where I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. That being said, I don’t know if I’d recommend it if you’re travelling alone. It’s not exactly the most welcoming place. If you are keen on going alone, I’d suggest downloading “Couchsurfing” It’s an app that allows you to connect with people in your area and if you’re desperate for a place to stay some of the people can help you out and offer up their spare room or couch. I enjoyed my time there because I got to explore, I just got to be alone and be free, and I had a blast.

Just breathtaking and then theres this outstanding building. Sorry the photos not better, my phone died. Next post is on the way and just writing about it brings back this horrendous smell. Oh well stay tuned and thanks for reading.

Finland Pt. 6 🇫🇮

As mentioned in the previous post, my laptop was stolen, along with some other things. I’m at home in Toronto, showered in a proper shower, slept in my big ass bed and played video games… sort of. I’ve been busy since I came home. Below you’ll find what I had written and saved; you’ll also see the rest of the post. I’d like to wish all the readers and followers a very Merry Christmas, and a joyous holiday season.

QWhile this post is entitled, “Finland Pt. 6” I thought about calling it “Comin’ Home.” Every time I came back home from university, I’d play “Comin’ Home” It’s a song by one of my favourite artist, City and Colour or Dallas Green. I saw him in concert a few summers ago, sang along to every song, and swayed to every slow song. I’ve been a huge fan of his for a long time, and I encourage you to youtube some of his music. In the song ‘Comin Home” he sings about coming home, about being on tour, knowing that it’s a cycle, but he misses home. The song also mentions a girl and the hardship of long-distance dating.  I’d play this song when I came home because it was aptly named and I liked to lean my head against the window and daydream out the window. Now I could relate to the song because long-distance dating is taxing. But now I think I can connect to it even more.

I came to Finland with a plan. Be a better Adel, do well in school, and get the girl. I’ve written about my ex on numerous occasions. A lot of the poetry and early writing is about her. I cannot express it in words but not only did she have a profound effect on me and push me to be better, but I’ve never loved someone more in my life. Even though it’s been a long time since our break up, I think about her, and I still do love and care for her. I needed this adventure more than I let on, not because of my break up, but because I wasn’t where I wanted to be in life. I kept looking ahead, I’d propose to my girlfriend most romantically, we’d move in together, I’d get a career job, we’d live in the city blah blah blah kids, taxes and death. There is nothing wrong with trying to map out your life, but when you set it in stone, the chances of you becoming obsessed with it are pretty good. That’s where I was, and it’s why this break up has been hard for me. I’m not saying it was easy for her, breakups suck.

My plan for being out here went out the window because I hated it. Planning has its perks, but going with the flow and following your gut is pretty good too. I knew this experience would change me, not because everyone told me but because the signs are in a different fucking language! Something was going to change, and I was going to pick up words and customs. I like learning about different cultures and people, and I knew I’d try to learn as much as I could about Finns and Finland. I did that because it’s who I am. I’m a nerd, and I had a list of all these things I needed to see. I knocked down most of them, I saw Old Trafford, I visited the Guinness Brewery, I went to the cliffs of Moher and peered over the edge, I went to Rome alone and saw the Colosseum, I went to Paris apart and saw the Louvre and Eiffel Tower, and I went to Madrid and saw the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. The last three might sound insignificant, but I did those alone. I do come off as confident, but I struggle with it all the time. But the amount of travelling I did alone just showed me that I need to take those risks. It also helped me reclaim my ability to be independant. It stopped being about someone else and just became about me. I didn’t forget, I could never, it just became more imprtant to look after myself. It’s what I’ve taken back from Finland. Personal growth is always something I can be proud of and nothing about the last 5 months have been easy.

Truth be told I miss Finland, I miss being on my own. It truly was the adventure of a lifetime and one that I’ll never forget. That there is the final photo I took in Helsinki. It is at the Christmas Market and I think its where I left my Christmas spirit.

Week By Week 📆

Somehow I’m still alive. I haven’t had a lot of time to blog or do anything other than school work in the last little while. It, however, is starting to pay off. So I’ve been thinking about staying here and doing another year and getting my masters. Then when I woke up this morning, there was an email from an internship that I applied to saying I’d been accepted. I was talking to someone and telling them about my dilemma of wanting to stay and wanting to come home. Strange how things can change in such an instance.

So what’s on the docket? Well, I’m heading to Stockholm this weekend which should be a lot of fun. I’ve always “threatened” that I’d run away to Sweden. In reality, I’ve just always wanted to visit. In December I’m heading to Paris, then Madrid and then meeting up with some friends from Barcelona in Barcelona. So more travel is coming, and I’m really looking forward to it. So Paris? Why Paris? I’m Canadian, and I’ve heard a lot about Paris, it’s almost romanticized. I understand its a beautiful city, but I’ve heard the worst things about the people there. We’ve got a lot of Parians here, and well they’re not the friendliest. I’m not going to let a few bad apples ruin the entire pie, so we’ll see what the people of Paris are like. I do plan on doing all the tourist attractions while there, but I also think it’s important for me to go and visit the Canadian war memorials in France. Vimy Ridge, Neuville-St Vaast Canadian Cemetery are the two that I have in mind and of course Juno Beach. 359 Canadians died taking that beach, they’re all buried behind the beach. I want to visit these sites because I’m a first-generation Canadian. I’m also very proud of being a Canadian and I wouldn’t be a Canadian without the sacrifice that those brave men and women gave.

Now in Spain, well the list is rather long. In all honesty, I don’t know a lot about Spain. I have a list of things to see, for example, Spain was once under Muslim rule in the medieval period. Their rule lasting in some areas more than 700 years. I think it would be amazing to see some of the old mosques. Obviously, football is on a religious level there so I hope I can get to a game while I’m there … Maybe El Classico (Real Madrid vs Barcelona) But we’ll see how much money I have if anyone wants to give me money that would be the kindest gift! I’m just kidding, I’ve actually budgeted reasonably well.

So a few more trips, a couple of things to see and do and then I’m coming home… Oh, I haven’t mentioned, my school back home is on strike, and well I don’t know what’s going to happen. There’s a potential that they lose the entire semester, I hope not, but it’s a very real possibility. It could affect my internship, that’s a little bit of a stressor but we’ll find out soon enough. Sorry for the delays in between posts, there will be photos and posts about Sweden and the upcoming adventure. I’m also working on another short story, but it requires a lot of research.

When in Rome 🇮🇹 Pt. Ⅲ

After my little adventure around Rome, I was ready to take it easy. I had a trip to Naples booked, I was excited to see Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius. I didn’t end up going because it’s a bit of a rough place to be alone. I’m sure I would’ve been fine, but after what happened on my first night I wasn’t really up for anything like that again. The girl in my room was from Maritime Canada, so the craziest place in Canada. She told me about the mafia influence in Naples and shared some stories of what happened while she was there. Apparently, there was a stabbing and a mugging. I was a bit disappointed, but you know what? This just means I’ll get to come back to Italy and visit Florence, Naples, Venice, Milan, Turin and even Sicily. I’m reading that sentence again to myself, and it’s apparent that I have the travel bug.

I started the day with breakfast at this lovely little cafe. Anna (Canadian girl) and I walked down to the Colosseum and talked about Canada, travelling, all kinds of things. We split up, and she did all the tours, and I decided it was a great time to get lost. I had a lot of things on my mind, things that were just bumming me out, so I was more than happy to just be by myself. I didn’t take my headphones, and I wore pants. One of those was a mistake, it was 30 degrees or 86 Fahrenheit for my American readers. I walked around for about six hours and got five cones of gelato.

Eventually, I ended up here, Piazza Navona (picture below) Its the super cool open space in the heart of Rome. The obelisk is the obelisk of the Roman emperor Domitian.

IMG_2717

There is also a fountain there, but there wasn’t any water in it. Right now in Rome, there is a bit of a water shortage, so many of the fountains have been turned off to conserve water. I sat around eating my gelato and people watched. There were a lot of tourists, I struck up a conversation with Tanveer, a Londoner on his honeymoon. They asked me how to get to the Trevi Fountain, I didn’t know how to direct them, so I ended up walking with them to the fountain. I felt a little off because I for the first time in a long time I wished I had someone with me. I wished I was there with my significant other, I felt sad like absolutely fucking pathetic. Its normal, I’m still working things out, but after I left the newlyweds, I walked around some more and eventually found a place for lunch. That’s not exactly hard because there are food options everywhere. When I sat down, I was the only person sitting alone. Look I’m not going to lie to you the last few months have felt like hell. I wasn’t afraid, I just didn’t want to be there alone. Guess what? I was, I was there alone, and nothing in the world was going to change that. I had seafood linguine, the most filling lunch I’ve had in a long time.

I wasn’t grateful for the alone time, I know that will happen from time to time. Yes, it’s been hard, and things come up all the time that really get to me, but I was walking around and here’s where things got better. I was in Rome, a few weeks earlier I was in Ireland, Estonia and England. What I’m going through isn’t permanent, I’m out doing the best I can, and I’m taking risks on things that scared the hell out of me. I’m doing it alone and guess what, I’m proving a lot to myself right now.

On my way back I saw crossed a bridge and took this photo. That’s the Tiber River, the 3rd longest in Italy and one of the reasons Rome was such a power in the ancient world. It eventually drains into the Tyrrhenian sea, the sea that is near the tip of the boot of Italy.

IMG_2728That night when I got back to the hostel, I went out for dinner, alone. This time I enjoyed it and had the most fantastic lasagna ever. After dinner, Anna and I went to the bar, and I met a bunch of people. Some Aussies, a Finn! Some Americans, Germans, French, Korean, Canadians and some Danes. I met a girl from Minnesota, Danni and we agreed that we’d get breakfast and head to the Vatican the next day. It’s on my list to go, some of my friends make jokes about me not being able to go because I’m the devil. Can’t make to many arguments there.

I’ve harped on this but staying at a hostel is amazing, the people you meet will surprise you. ALRIGHT, I didn’t do a whole lot this day but I promise you there are some cool things to come and some good stories!

The Window Seat Pt. 4 🛬✈️🛫

I remember the night I met Alice, Halloween night we were both at the same party. She was dressed as Paddington Bear, I was dressed as Cookie Monster, naturally. We spent the whole evening hanging out, and she kept stealing cookies from the bucket around my neck. I found out that she went to Western, our rival school and that she was communications major with a minor in business. I know its weird, but I knew then that I wanted to let her in. After that one night, it was impossible for me not to think about her. The night ended up with me walking her to her friend’s place and asking her if I could add her on Facebook. She laughed at me because as I later found out, she thought I was such a nerd; she says I still am. The screen in the headrest in front of me keeps switching between telling us where we are and advertising the free Wi-Fi for first class passengers. I think about asking for the code and messaging Alice. But before I get the chance, “Sir would you like the chicken or the beef? We also have vegetarian and vegan options.” I tell him that I’d like the beef. Tiia shoots me a look of surprise, we just ate, but free food isn’t something I’ll ever turn down. I made that row in University when I had to mix mac and cheese with eggs. It was the worst meal I’d ever had. “I can’t turn down food.” Tiia laughs, “None for me thank you.”

To my surprise the food is delicious, and for dessert, Tiia gives me a cookie. She can tell I’m starting to think about Alice. “Tiia, can I ask you a question?” She nods at me, “What did Tobias do? About what he thought? About Rory not loving him?”

“Tobias had done everything to push Rory away. I don’t think he did it on purpose, but he pushed because to Tobias, Rory didn’t deserve this. They sat down and talked for a very long time. From the minute I met Rory he always felt like another son. They decided that it would be best for them to take some time apart. At first, it was hard, I’d catch Tobias walking around like a zombie. He was sad, he didn’t say anything but he was broken, and it started to creep in more and more that Rory didn’t love him anymore.” I go to say something, but she interrupts, “But, and I told Tobias this, Rory loved him, and Rory always checked in with me to see if how he was doing. But I told Tobias this. You don’t give up because if you could if you did then that isn’t love.” I used to be like that, this hopeless romantic, always thinking of ways to surprise Alice, having all these grandiose ideas about love. “Tobias never gave up. Rory never gave up. Like I said, if you can let go, then it isn’t love. Now they’re married, and they’re about to adopt a child.” Their love story is messy, and I suppose that that’s how love is, messy. “Thank you Tiia.” I have an idea of what I should do. “James, it will be okay. Everything in life is a path, but I have an inkling that you know what you have to do.” I have an idea, but its life-altering. I decide that its best shut my eyes and try to nap.

ALICE

Rolling over to an empty bed can sometimes be a great thing, this morning is not one of those. I reach for James, but he hasn’t been here since February. I wish he were here, I wish we weren’t fighting, and I wish I were in his arms. It can be hard, the long distance, the time zones, this, him, he can be so difficult. Before I know it I’m crying, “I don’t know what to do… I don’t know.” I think about texting him, but I can’t do it. I text Ian and tell him I can’t come in today; I can’t be there. I make up some bullshit excuse about being sick, and he tells me to take care of myself. The apartment is so quiet, it’s like a scene from a horror movie. Even though the suns out I see everything in black and white. If he were here he would’ve made breakfast, or surprised me with coffee, he would’ve done something to make me see why I fell in love with him in the first place. I need that right now; I need to know that he’s still here not whatever he’s become. I’m looking at the first photo we took together; he was this random guy I struck up a conversation with at a Halloween party. He dressed up as cookie monster and had a bucket full of cookies around his neck. I thought he looked like such an idiot, but a cute idiot who wasn’t dressed as a nightstand or a fucking pile of laundry. We spent the whole night talking, I found out he was an archaeology major, he found out that I didn’t go to McMaster and at the end of the night James walked me home and asked if he could add me on Facebook. I laughed so hard but he was serious, he’s such a nerd, he was then and I think he still is. I hold the picture; I wish he was here.

JAMES

I help Tiia with her bags and I wait with her until Tobias comes to get her. He’s a tall blonde man with a strong bearing. We shake hands, and I help him load the suitcases in the car. I’ve been dreading this moment, its time to say goodbye. “Tiia, it was an absolute pleasure to meet you and thank you so much for listening to me.” I go to shake her hand, but she quickly knocks it away and gives me a hug. “Don’t mention it. Give me your email, I’ll send you the cookie recipe. And James, remember its all a path.” I can feel myself holding back tears, I stand there waving for what feels like forever. When I finally find myself willing to get a cab, I turn my phone on. There aren’t any messages, but for the first time that makes me happy.

ALICE

I’ve been sitting on the couch for a few hours, I feel like a bum. Not even Luke wants to cuddle with me. He just sits there on the opposite side of the couch watching television. “Come her Luke!” His ears perk up and looks at me, that look means no. Stupid dog, I get up and head to the shower. The warm water feels so good until I notice one of James’ body wash bottles. I take it and open it, it smells like him, and it makes me miss him even more. I stand there like a crazy person sniffing the bottle when I hear Luke bark.

JAMES

As I fumble with the keys, I can hear Luke barking. I haven’t seen him in so long, I rush to open the door. He jumps on me and starts licking my face, “Oh I missed you too buddy.” The bathroom door opens, and Alice comes out, she doesn’t say anything. Luke paddles over to her and she scratches behind his ears. It’s time.

 

ALICE

I guess Luke didn’t like the way I smelled, he comes over to me as soon as I leave the bathroom. I scratch behind his ears; James hasn’t said a word. The calendar says he was coming back at midnight not noon. Unless I read the calendar wrong. He can tell I’m confused, “James.”

JAMES

She misread the calendar I can see it from the confused look on her face. She always does this, but to be fair, we haven’t been talking today. I usually send her a text before I leave, but obviously, I didn’t do that today. She’s standing there in her towel, “James” I hold my hand up to her “Alice.” She stops, “You misread the calendar didn’t you?” She nods, “I knew it.” I take a step forward; I can tell she’s been crying. “Ally, I know you have no reason to believe this, but I’m so sorry. I’m sorry for the fighting, just sorry for everything. This isn’t easy for me to say.” She comes over to me and takes my hand, and we move over to the couch. “Tell me,” she says. “I’m not happy anymore. I’m not happy with the fighting, but I’m not happy with myself. I don’t want to be away from you anymore, I don’t want to be a professor anymore, I don’t want to be on a fucking plane 32,000ft in the fucking sky for hours at a fucking time. Babe, I’ve been having panic attacks and this is the result. I’m not happy, and I’m sorry I’ve kept this to myself. I just don’t want you to think that any of this is your fault…” She grabs my hand and wipes the tears away from my face. I know what I have to do, I take her hand, and I get up off the couch. “Alice I love you, more than anything in this world and I want you to know that I’ll never keep something from you again. I also don’t want you to let go.” I put my other hand in my pocket and get down on one knee. She’s let go of my hand and cups them over her mouth, “Alice King, I promise to never hurt you, never keep anything from you, and to love you for the rest of my life. I promise that I’ll never let go of you no matter how hard it gets. I promise that I’ll see someone about the panic attacks. I promise that we do find ourselves apart from one another that I’ll always come back to you because you are where my heart is You’re home.” She’s crying, and Luke’s come over to make sure she’s okay. To think once upon a time, she didn’t love him. “Alice, would you marry me?”

ALICE

“I will be here. Every. Step. Of the way because I love you. Yes, I will marry you. ”

JAMES

“It was on a plane ride where I knew I had to ask Alice to marry me. I’d struck up a conversation with a woman, and she told me about the struggles her son faced. When I envisioned this day, I always saw Alice next to me, and I’m proud to call her my wife. I don’t know if I’d have the courage, to ask her for it, not for Tiia Grandlund. What she said to me will forever resonate with me, and it’s the reason we’re all gathered here today.” I raise my glass, “Unfortunately Tiia passed away a few months ago, but I know she’s somewhere looking at us all.” I can see Tobias wipe a tear away from his cheek, I give him a smile because it’s the only thing I can do. “You don’t give up because if you could if you did then that isn’t love. Those were the words that got me here today. Those are the words.” I turn to Alice, “Those are the words that will keep me loving you for the rest of my life.”

The Window Seat Pt. 3 🛫✈️🛬

As we sit down, I recheck my phone, no messages. I wrote a message to Alice and saved it in my notes. I think about sending it, but it’s a working day. I can’t do that to her, can’t let her start her day like that, I need to give her space, but it’s tearing me up inside. Every situation has gone through my mind. I can see this being it, I can see her breaking up with me. I can see her hating me, I can see her never talking to me again. We fight but we always makeup but I know the fighting needs to stop. I know I need to tell her that I’m not happy, I’m not satisfied with work, I’m not excited about where I am in my life, and I’m probably not happy with myself. I don’t know how to tell her this, I don’t want her to think that this is her fault. Although there are times where I want to blame her, I know I cannot. “James? Are you alright?” Tiia has a very concerned look on her face. The waiter sets our food in front of us, Tiia doesn’t break concentration. “I-I’m fine, just a lot on my mind.” I can feel my heart racing again, “You know you remind me a lot of my husband. Terrible liar, it was all in the eyes.” It’s not the first time I’ve heard that. “Okay. Alice, my girlfriend. Well, Alice and I, we’ve been fighting, a lot. Mostly because I won’t tell her that I don’t want to be a professor. It sounds fickle, but I don’t know how to tell her. I don’t know how to tell her after she stuck by me through everything. Grad-school, unpaid internships, me only being home six weeks a year, just everything. I feel like I’d be letting her down” I haven’t said that to anyone, here I am spilling my guts out to some lady I don’t know. Tiia puts down her fork, the waiter places a cup of coffee in front of her. “Thank you.” She fixes her eyes back onto me “Do you love her?” Lately, I’ve felt like I don’t, or I don’t know how to love. “Is she constantly on your mind?” I take a sip of my water, the phad thai is a little spicy, “She means the world to me. When I think I’ve hurt her, I feel like the worst human being in the world. That’s been me lately. Everything in my life seems so chaotic, and I’ve been taking that out on her.” Tiia reaches across the table and places her hand on top of mine, “My husband was the almost the same and my oldest, Tobias is the exact same way. He was a doctor, a cardiac surgeon. Rory, his partner, was there every step of the way. Gave him the courage to come out, helped him study, made sure to help with the stress of medical school. Tobias is a teacher now, a high school teacher and Rory and him are married.” She lets go of my hand, we both hear the boarding call. I give her a faint smile and go to pay the tab.

One of the best feelings in the world is getting on a trans-Atlantic flight and seeing that the plane is not full. Tiia asks the flight attendant if we’d be able to sit next to one another, she asks us if we’d be okay with First class? As if that’s even a question, complementary Champaign, proper meals, and plenty of leg room. We’re ushered to our seats, and asked if we’d like Champaign. We both nod yes. “So your son is a teacher?”

“Tobias is yes, Jacob, an investment banker, and Elli is a fashion designer in Sweden. But yes Tobias is a history teacher.” With a slight jerk, we begin to move, and I watch the flight safety video. I can’t help but think that if we crash it’ll be in the frigid rough water. Most of us if not all of us will die. At our funerals the chances of there being a body in the casket are slim. I roll my eyes; I can’t believe I’m thinking about this. My least favourite part of flying is the takeoff, I’ve watched too many shows about planes blowing up on the runway. Completely irrational but it could happen. When we’re in the air I look over to Tiia, she has her eyes closed. She must know I’m looking at her, “I don’t like take off. Don’t like it at all.” After a few moments, the seat belt sign is turned off, and Tiia opens her eyes. “So I was telling you about Tobias.” I nod, “Well his dad and I never wanted him to do something he didn’t want. But he got it in his mind that when we got older that it was up to him and him alone to provide for us. Imagine, working so hard for something and thinking every step of the way that you hate it. That it isn’t your dream. That it is the last thing, you want.” I can relate to that, I wanted to provide for my mom and dad, and now that my dad is gone it’s up to me. “One day Rory came home, and Tobias was sitting on the couch all snot and tears.” She mocks his crying face and gives a little laugh. “So they’re sitting on the couch, and Rory told him, looked him right in the eyes and told him that it was going to be okay. That night they came over for dinner, and he told us what had gone on over the last few months. Jacob and Elli were both shocked, as was I and my husband because that wasn’t his job, all we ever wanted was for him to be happy. I know it’s a cliché, but Tobias taking care of himself  was all I ever wanted because of he such a kind man, a loving husband, a terrific son, and he’s just got this way about him, makes people gravitate to him.” I’ve taken my phone out of my pocket and spin it around between my index finger and thumb, “So he quit?” Tiia turns to look at me, “No James, he decided that being happy was what he wanted. And you know what, Rory supported him because he loves him.” Alice loves me, I know I question it. “Did Tobias ever think Rory didn’t love him?”

“Absolutely.”