Saturday, August 21, 2010

Love At First Sight, 10 Years Later

I Do Countdown: 35 Days
Rob and Suzanne Learn on the day after their wedding.

By Rob Learn

Where does a love story begin?
If you're from a certain school of thought, you believe in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny and love at first sight.
Sign me up.
It's now just a few months short of being year short of two decades ago that I first laid eyes on my wife Suzanne. She still makes my heart pitter-pat-pat when I look at her.
I was 15 or 16 and hanging out in the library of the school at the time in the magazine section where there were comfy chairs and not a ton of supervision.
And one day she came in and sat down. I was instantly enthralled. Totally, completely enthralled in the way only a hormone seized teen boy can become enthralled.
So you can imagine the romantic endeavours I set upon trying to win her affection.
I started teasing her.
She came back.
And, as things happen when she is 13 and you are 15, not much happened and before we knew it, it was summer and we were gone on vacation.
And in September when I returned to school and Grade 12, she had a boyfriend and I was heartbroken.
Well not heartbroken. But I really had to rethink things. I was certain she was going to fall for me and we would live happily ever after when I came back to start my Grade 12 year.
But come Grade 13 she still had that pesky boyfriend who was older and taller than me.
So that year I redoubled my efforts. I spent every possible minute with her and she reciprocated by doing her best to spend every second she could with me. But there was still that boyfriend she stubbornly wouldn't drop.
By the time came around to say goodbye for Christmas break it had become unbearable and I told her that I could no longer be her friend. Because. I wanted to be with her so bad that it hurt too much to be friends with her knowing she was giving her heart to this loser who didn't begin to understand how wonderful she is.
Full stop.
I'll blame my masculinity on the rather matter of factness of this epistle so far, but I'll pause now to say that my wife is beautiful. Always has been and just getting more so everyday. She's not just pretty. She's pretty pretty.
Forgive the 15-year-old in me, but there's that ass that just doesn't quit. It could have been the first thing I noticed. Alright (yeah, that's a word in my book), it was. But a fine ass does not love make. She has a beautiful generous smile, and she always, always, thinks of others before her own concerns. She is beautiful from the inside out. When she smiles you can tell that is it out of genuine happiness that comes not from a place a marketer told it should, but from the sweet spot of her soul that makes the world a better place. True beauty. Simple and honest.
So there's this fucker she's still calling her boyfriend.
When I told her I couldn't be her friend anymore there were a lot of tears and even a bit of begging for me to reconsider but not the result that either of us were looking for.
So we spent a month dancing around the issues until it came to a head when I hosted a party for our friends at the farm. She decided to come a day early to "help me set up," before everyone else arrived.
It was January, so one of the things I hoped we'd be able to do was some skating on a flooded field. She got there by bus, the late bus, and found me up to my armpits in blood and guts from cleaning up the butchering equipment after my folks had done a beef during the day.
I wasn't forever at it and she really impressed me by staying and talking to me while I cleaned up the equipment at laundry tub full of blood and flesh.
After a bit I was showered and I went out into the cold dark night with her on Dad's tractor to clean off the would be ice rink.
She rode on the fender of the tractor across the pastures to the beaver meadow under a starry sky where we cleared off the rink and then donned our skates to try it out.
Suzanne still teases me that I didn't kiss her that night.
Eight months later I proposed to her two months before my 19th birthday.
Best decision I ever made.
What does -30- mean at the end of a story?
If you work in the newspaper business, -30- means the end. There are all sorts of explanations why the number 30 is used but one of the most common ones stem from the telegraph days when this code signified the end of a transmission.
Not many reporters still end their stories with -30- but Rob Learn does. I work with him every Wednesday at the Almaguin News. He's the news editor, I'm his layout goddess, and together we somehow wrestle that big bear and get it off to press week after week. When I pull in Rob's stories I always see that -30- at the hind end of everything he writes.
He does it, I think, because Rob is a man of tradition. An old soul in a young body. I admire him a great deal – not only is he extremely intelligent, he's also a keen newspaperman - I don't know anybody who cares about his business as much as he does.
But his work ethic isn't the only thing I admire about him. I also appreciate how much he loves his wife, Suzanne, and their three sons, Jack, Charlie and Thomas. They recently bought their "dream house" - an old farmhouse that needs a lot of work but is plenty big enough for three growing boys, gardens and some pigs for the freezer. Recently he sent me a photo of Suzanne out talking to the pigs. Suzanne, by the way, really is a looker. There she was out in the barn, still looking better than most models with all their make-up and fancy lights.
When Rob sent the photo he wrote something like, "There's my girl," and you could sense, in those three words, how much he adores her.
Today is Rob and Suzanne's 10th anniversary. My hope for them is they never have to put a -30- at the end of their love story.
Happy Anniversary, you two.


  1. Just a gorgeous story of romance and fate. If she stayed around while he cleaned blood and gore, then that is love! Happy Anniversary, Rob and Suzanne.

  2. That was a lot of work. It sounds like it was well worth the effort. Thanks for sharing your story, Rob. And thanks again, Cathy, for this awesome series of love stories.

  3. Happy Anniversary to Rob and Suzanne. Thanks for sharing the story. That's an interesting photo. It looks like it was taken in the 60's (maybe it's the pipe) but it was only 10 years ago?

  4. Thanks for sharing a beautiful story!

  5. Thanks for the nice comments folks. Suzanne and I just got to spend a couple days, by coincidence, with my best man and his family. Turns out it was our 11th anniversary. Oh well, guess we wasted the past couple of days in the big city shopping, dining and making eyes at each other.
    Cathy, you made a nice selection, but our wedding song was Van Morrison's 'Someone like you' Sorry to miss your Bday party, but there was wining and dining to be done. And you are too kind. Note the anonymous tag – I'm definitely a newspaper man.


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