Right around this time of year, 21 years ago, I met Alistair.
We were set up by mutual friends and we both had big things coming up in our lives that made it kind of silly to start a relationship.
I had contracted to return to Japan for 2 more ice shows starting a month after we met and he was moving to the United States.
We were going nowhere as a couple.
But this wonderful, fun, special friend of mine set us up.
She also helped bring me in to guest skate that night in Creston for their skating club’s annual ice show.
I had babysat Patti’s kids when they lived down the road from us in Grand Forks and we had kept in touch over the years.
That year, 1994, I was living in Nelson. I was coaching both there and in Grand Forks, which was 90 minutes over a mountain pass away.
I have always loved coaching. I loved helping kids achieve their goals and watching them improve and seeing the joy in their eyes when they, too, knew they had improved.
Or passed tests.
Or won medals.
That was a strange year for me, spending so much time on the road in ‘Duff’, my Mercury Topaz.
I had returned from a year of teaching English in Japan with several extra pounds and no fiancée. I was a half-assed vegetarian who kind of stopped drinking for awhile.
I blamed meat and alcohol for my weight gain but, really, it was just me learning how to be an adult in a body that wasn’t training umpteen hours in a day. And, really, you can’t have Kahlua and cream every night and not pay for it.
I came back to Canada without any of the goals I’d had before I went to Japan. I’d broken up with my fiancée by phone (I sympathized with Rory McIlroy last year when he did the same… hey, sometimes its the only way, alright?) and returned without any expectation of meeting anyone.
Which is why I threw myself into my work.
Until I met this guy.
He was in the audience and our mutual friends took us out for drinks afterwards and I was leaving and he was moving and we weren’t going anywhere.
But after our first meeting he drove from Creston to Nelson to watch my big ice show there, Starstruck.
The biggest show I’ve ever choreographed and produced, this was a big deal.
It was also a bit of a family affair.
My sister came in as a guest skater for the show and also did a little modeling in one of the routines.
My cousin, Svetlana, a stylist, donated her time and did the girls’ hair for us all.
Even my little cousins, Robyn and Pamela were there from Victoria and came to watch the show with their folks. (Robyn is now a major model in NYC…. I can only hope the sequins, spandex and makeup from 1994 inspired her!)
And there was Alistair… happily joining in the celebrations and helping me host my champagne breakfast and video review the following morning.
And then he was in Grand Forks watching me guest skate again and cheer on my students in their annual ice show a couple of weeks later.
That’s the same weekend I met his kids.
Which was a weird deal for a lot of 21 year-olds but it didn’t seem weird to me at all.
They were just his kids.
And they were pretty cute, and old enough to eat and pee on their own, which is obviously a bonus.
And they met me in sequins and spandex and fishnets and I tell you, there is something magical about that when you’re a little kid!
And then he took me to the airport in Spokane and sent me on my way to Japan to be Sailor Moon and a glitzy showgirl all over again.
Without the Internet back then we wrote letters and faxes and fell deeper in love… old school style.
And when I came home 2 months later I stayed with him in his beautiful log home in Creston with his sheep, Golden Retriever, ducks, geese and horses.
And I made some changes to myself.
And Alistair embraced my quirks and my humor and even my family.
And we moved to the states and his kids spent the summers with us and we became our own little family and we never cared much about our age difference and I went back to school and he was a doctor and all the while he kept on supporting my skating and coaching needs.
We didn’t have an indoor ice rink in Watford City, ND, but I had brave friends from Nelson and Grand Forks who would help with that.
And hard working, incredible friends in Watford City (Tim & Wendy) who amazingly agreed to help make this fundraiser happen.
We put Raise The Roof together, revamping that Hot Hot Hot opening number on the outdoor rink and indoors in Williston. Each of us performed solo routines as well.
It was cold but it was pretty awesome at the same time. People sat in their cars with their headlights on, adding to the lights of the outdoor rink for the show there.
The crack that extended across the width of the rink from the cold only became a problem when Jen got her toe pick caught.
The Watford City hockey boys were part of the show, too, and I am amazed that they participated and maybe had fun. (Pictures are from the indoor rink in Williston, where we spent the next 30 minutes signing autographs).
And all along, Alistair has supported this.
These dreams, these zany visions and notions I have. We did a Raise The Roof the following year but none of the Nelson girls made it. My sister and a castmate from Ice Capades joined us, though, so there was some continuity.
And its crazy fun that I’m Facebook Friends with so many of the skaters in this blog (and their parents!)
What began as a blog about step-parenting turned into a stroll down Nostalgia Lane and back to the frozen world of figure skating.
It turned into a review of who I was in 1994… a young woman who had been on her own and traveled and lived and done the ice shows and been engaged and coached in two cities and drove too many miles and experimented with a variety of styles and looks and didn’t have any animal companions and finally went back to being a carnivore who enjoys her red wine.
And a gorgeous boyfriend with 2 cute kids and nobody to give advice on what to do because none of my friends were going through that back then.
Sinead O’Conner sang, “How could I possibly know what I want when I was only twenty one”….
I didn’t necessarily know exactly what I wanted but I knew I was enjoying what I had.
With no more Kahlua and creams….