In the mid to late 90s, Kirk was going to college and working part time at a local coffee house. In September 1996, my classmate and friend Lawrence introduced me to Brazil Coffee House. I had met Kirk through a fellow card player. Nothing grew here, just occasional run-ins at Brazil until its untimely end on March 24th, 1998. It wasn't until a mutual friend's wedding that our paths crossed again.
On September 12th, 1998, at a mutual friend's wedding, we were re-introduced by the bride. Flirting over drinks and pleasant conversations, occasional dancing and smoke breaks outside lead to our first kiss. We were wrapped up in our own world that night, that we missed most of the other drama happening that night... though, we were also part of the drama that night. I had wardrobe malfunction(s) and a rude announcement that lead to various rumors.
Before we parted ways that night, we exchanged phone numbers. Kirk called the next day for a chance to see each other right away. Kirk did not want to "wait three days to call the girl." Our first date was the night after the wedding. We had a picnic date at the waterfront before Kirk had work that night. Then the next morning after he finished work, we went for a coffee date before I had to go to work.
Just three little dates, then I was told I wasn't ready to move on with Kirk. There was enough doubt in myself that I believed the words my friend that influenced my decision to tell Kirk I wasn't ready for a new relationship. I did feel that it was moving too quickly, I was used to a slower pace back when I thought I had control of myself and the pace of my relationship with Cody. Kirk told me to call him when I would be ready to be in a relationship, but I felt that was a line. The moment he walked away, I wanted to say I had changed my mind. I wanted to know Kirk more, I had been having a wonderful time. He was doing all the things I had wished my ex-boyfriend would have done with me.
I saw Kirk around a couple times later that fall, once at Stevie & Lindsay's place and once at Kate's apartment. Our social circles intertwined but we didn't reconnect then. I wanted to tell him in November (when I was single again) that I wanted to see him again but I thought he fed me the line that I could call when I was ready to date. One night in December, my girlfriends, Jackie & Sandie, came to kidnap me when they found out I had lost my job. They wanted to cheer me up, and they wanted me to talk to Kirk. They drove me up to his work one night, but he wasn't working that night. I took it as a sign and started isolating myself - withdrawing from more, more friends. A week before xmas, my aunt Colleen passed away. She had secretly battled breast cancer. I was shattered, she was my loving caregiver that I was attached to and I found it difficult to comprehend that she chose not to tell her family and suffer alone.
Even though I was incredibly depressed, I was told to get myself back to school (or find new employment) to be able to stay in my OM house. Reluctantly, I enrolled for the second semester at Chippewa Secondary School. I registered for a co-op placement at a law firm, OAC history, and grade 12 mathematics. I made no friends while I was there - - - no-one was friendly and I was so sad I didn't initiate any conversations or small talk. I started my co-op placement mid-February. I usually wasn't downtown during the afternoons, but one day when I was not in a mental state to return to school for afternoon classes, I decided to go to The Cave, a coffee shop near my placement's office. Kirk happened to go to The Cave that day, he noticed me and asked if he could join me. I said yes. After that day, I started going to that coffee shop everyday in hopes to have another coffee & conversation with him, then after a few more days, we went from saying goodbye (and hoping to see each other again) to actually saying see you tomorrow.
On March 6, we found each other by chance again at The Cave. It was my first Saturday night out in months. The place was busy - nearly no seats. I asked Kirk if it was okay to sit with him, well, I asked if I could sit in his lap. We flirted until closing time. Then our friends wanted to go to another coffee shop, we joined them until I felt I had to return home. Kirk offered to walk with me. It was brutally cold that night. Because the cold winds the walk home was longer and more difficult to manage. What usually was a 15 minute walk from the coffee shop to the corner of O'Brien & Frost was nearly an hour. I was trembling so hard, I couldn't control my shivers and started to have body jolts. I was still another 2 km from home... Kirk said we could stop at the corner store to check his bank account to see if he could afford a taxi.
I don't remember how long we waited for the taxi. I don't remember the ride home. I know I got home safely. Kirk walked me up to the front door, I said thank you & goodnight, then I gave him a kiss goodnight. This was our first kiss since our short-lived relationship in September. We didn't speak or see each other the following day. I feel that it was a quiet reflection day. On Monday, after my placement hours were done for the day, I headed over to The Cave to be with him again. We had a meaningful conversation and discussed what the past two weeks had been for each other and that we were ready to be a couple.
We continued our afternoon coffee dates and I invited Kirk to start joining me in my morning routine. There was a little café across the street from my work placement that I would go to every morning.
I loved the quietness and secrecy of being at my morning café. I never saw anyone familiar or unwanted people from my past. I could have a peaceful moment, a coffee and a cigarette before I went to work downtown with the other professional business people.
April was sometimes very difficult and it brought us closer together. Kirk had experienced loss and began to witness my struggles and my health conditions. One evening, we were hanging out with another couple at their place, I got up, started walking to the bathroom by three steps into my walk, I lost my vision, I continued forward knowing the house by heart, I knew my way without vision, I closed the bathroom door behind me then I collapsed and I hit my head on the bathtub. Kirk and Lindsay rushed me to the hospital. He knew since February that I had blackouts but he hadn't seen it before and I had been trying to hide my "sickness" from him.
In May, Kirk gifted me with a key to his apartment. He wanted me to come and go as I pleased. He even made space in a dresser drawer for my items. I moved in officially the following month. Kirk witnessed some of the abuse I endured from my older sibling, he told me to pack a bag to stay at his place until OM parental units returned from their east coast trip. Kirk felt that I would be in danger if I stayed alone with her for any period of time. I was terrified of her and I was scared and ashamed that someone finally saw a sample of what she could do to me.
I have very fond memories of the fall of 1999. I loved introducing my Brazil Coffee house friends to my LM family --- I love the dinner parties and our social life. I loved the road trips. I loved that I could sign along with the radio and Kirk wouldn't shush me or insult me. I love that when I explained why I loved a cover song, it changed his point of view and he also appreciates an artists' tribute to a sound and vision. Our dates were places that were new experiences and rarely crossed path with anyone familiar or unwanted people from my past. Kirk took me to all the places the previous boyfriend(s) never took me. Our first date in March was dinner at Greco's. He took me to the movies, mini putt golf, and hundreds of coffee shop dates. He did the things the previous boyfriend(s) never did. He'd bring me bouquets of flowers and write the sweetest notes. Most importantly, he made me laugh when I was sad. Or at the very least he would try. The day he asked to join me for afternoon coffee, he saw how sad I was, and he thought he wanted to cheer up the sad girl. I opened up to him that day. He learned about my medical condition and he didn't minimize me or what I was going through. Because Kirk was kind and compassionate, I gave him a vulnerable version of me. A version of me I didn't know before. I didn't use my old escapisms. I wasn't free from my mental struggles but I did not hide in maladaptive daydreaming or confuse my alternate world with reality. Kirk was with me during my first flashback. He didn't know what was happening but he was present and it was enough. I didn't know what that was until many years later. I was completely out of my own body during the flashback, I had never experienced anything like it.