Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Chocolate Covered Pretzels for Valentine's Day

“It’s weird it’s you.”

That’s what we always say to each other, still unconvinced it’s really each other woven so tightly into our present lives. You see, I met my boyfriend, Jason, a little over 13 years ago. But I met him, really, in November 2011.

For some of you, this is the first time you’ll be hearing the real story. It’s strange and bizarre and yeah, maybe kind of lame. But it’s also a ridiculous tale of chance, and who isn’t into that?

Chocolate Covered Pretzels for Valentine's Day

It all begins in 1999. I was 14, internet was dial up, and printers were just stopping making some of the most god-awful noises you have ever heard. Instant message systems were all the rage with teenagers (and sex offenders – a classic mix), and the poison of me and my peers was ICQ.

ICQ had three defining features: 1) its classic UH-OH! message tone, 2) its cheerful clip-arty flower symbol, and 3) its ability to connect you with strangers through a “random chat” feature.

It was this random chat button that brought us to where we are today.

As I was sitting at my parents’ computer in Vancouver, likely building a Geocities site for shitty poetry, Jason was sitting at his parents’ computer in Kelowna, a city about 5 hours away. At 16 years old, he pressed that random chat button, and guess who popped up on the other end? Me. Purely by a big swirling cosmic chance.

I wish I remembered what we said for those first words. I wish I remembered every conversation we ever had. (Though I wish I could forget some of them, too).

But I know I knew one thing: whoever this person was, I needed him to stick around, if only for just a little bit. 14 year old me couldn’t even imagine the journey that random chat would take us on.

Jason and I couldn’t have been more different, and on many levels we still can’t. The most defining difference is that he is Christian, and I am very much not. Why does this matter, you ask? Because when we met he thought my soul was in trouble and I needed saving. I thought he was sheltered and needed liberating.

In a way, that one point of contention is our story; it’s been a constant in our ever-changing relationship, and a dynamic that always ties us together. My soul has needed a lot of saving, and there's been a lot of the world he needed to see.

And I wouldn’t change a thing.

Back in 1999, and for several years after, we talked all the time. Daily. As much as we could about girlfriends, boyfriends, life, everything, and most often – absolutely nothing. We didn’t even have pictures of ourselves, since digital cameras weren’t for the masses yet.

When I was 15 I sent him a picture of myself. And guys, I posed HARD. When we finally met, 11 years after I put that picture in the mail, he brought it with him. He had kept it all those years.

It’s now on our fridge.

The thing is, when you talk to someone, just talk to them, without history or hang-ups or anything that’s attached to actually physically knowing someone in person, you have the opportunity to speak honestly, and to get to know each other on a level that’s hard to explain. You become part of a life-long conversation.

Over the years, our chats ebbed and flowed. We became busy with our own lives, and occasionally didn’t talk for several months at a time. But we were always there, and would pick back up again without missing a beat when the time was right. For over a decade, people!

It’s hard to say what stopped us from meeting over the years. A mix of geography, a treacherous highway, relationships, and just plain nerves when we happened to be in each other’s cities are mainly to blame.

But that all started to change when Jason moved to Vancouver, and we were definitely in the full swing of talking again.

One random rainy day in November 2011, I texted him that I had a new temporary contract, my first full-time official writing gig, at an agency downtown. As luck would have it, the office just happened to be a block from his apartment. And as luck would have it, his bank was just below it. And as luck would have it even more, he got home from work right as my shift ended.

We agreed that if the world was trying to throw us together at that moment, we were fools to go against it. So we went to Vancouver’s colosseum-esque library to finally hang out.

And we haven’t separated since.

Of course, there’s more to the story. There’s been what feels like a lifetime since, and the 12 years before it is hard to adequately sum up in such a small space. But all that matters is that I love him, even when he leaves my kitchen a mess, smokes from time to time, and forgets to take out the garbage. And he loves me, even when I treat the floor like it’s a closet, sweat in his clothes when I'm sleeping, and am a strange mix of unsentimental and insecure.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Chocolate Covered Pretzels for Valentine's Day

1 bag of lightly salted pretzels
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate
sprinkles of choice

Prep by setting a wire rack over parchment or wax paper.

On top of a double boiler (or on half power in the microwave) carefully melt the chocolate chips, stirring until smooth.

Carefully dip half half a pretzel in the chocolate, swirling to coat evenly. Gently tap the pretzel on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate. Place on wire rack to cool, and shake on sprinkles of choice.

Repeat until you can no longer eat!


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