Canadian Love Story
As told to Kaitlin Cimini
“Sometimes you have to go to Canada to fall in love,” says Shayla, tucking her hand inside her husband’s. He just nods, smiling faintly.
Shayla, from Springfield, Massachusetts, and Eric, from Boston, Massachusetts, met while they were participating in a Canadian exchange program their colleges had with the University of Montreal. Shayla was there studying French and Art Design, while Eric was working on an undergraduate degree in History.
“We met when I was taking the Metro… “
“No, we met at laser tag,” insists Eric.
“Okay, yeah, but we really met on the Metro because I just thought you were some random guy who was on the other team until we started talking later, which was on the Metro.”
“But we actually, physically, literally met at the laser tag place.”
“Fine.” She looks at me, raises her eyebrow and revises her first statement. “We met playing laser tag.
Shayla had never played laser tag before, but decided to go along with her group of friends for the night. “I figured I should give it a try before I made up my mind about it.”
“That’s not what you said last night,” quips Eric, looking pleased with himself.
“Yes it is,” replies Shayla archly.
“Oh, right,” Eric says, looking a little sheepish.
Eric, on the other hand, was a laser tag connoisseur. “My roommate invited me along, and I wanted to blow off some steam. Shayla was my first kill shot of the night.”
“Yeah, and let me tell you, that was romantic. The minute I fell in love with you, I swear.”
“I apologized! I helped you up!“ Eric protests.
“After taking me down like I’d insulted your mother! We’d just started playing, it’s not like I’d killed your whole team! In fact, I wasn’t even holding my gun!”
They’ve clearly had this “fight” before.
It seems that Eric felt bad enough about taking Shayla out of the game so soon that he felt obliged to apologize to her when he saw her heading home on the Metro later that night. Then, with half an hour to kill after a 15-second apology (he felt badly, but not that badly), they began to discover that they had much more in common than they’d originally thought.
“We’re both giant nerds,” Eric explains.
“You’re a giant nerd. I’m cultured,” interrupts Shayla, waving a hand in front of his face.
“We’re both giant nerds,” reiterates Eric, grabbing her wildly-gesticulating hand and holding on. “Video games – both computer and console, of course; we’ve got a room dedicated to our respective sci-fi/fantasy collections. Yeah, we’re giant nerds.”
Shayla rolls her eyes, grinning. “You’re leaving out political views, environmental concerns, belief structures, similar life goals…”
Eric chimes in with a “Blah, blah, blah…”
And Shayla nods decisively, “Exactly.”
Even though at the time they were both involved with other people in the United States, they didn’t let that stop them from “hanging out just to see,” according to Shayla. As things progressed between them and began to get more serious, they each – without telling the other – called home to cool things off with their own current long-distance boyfriend and girlfriend.
The desire not to pressure one another into a relationship led to a certain cheesy romantically comedic situation that they will readily admit to, but prefer not to share the details. “It’s just too embarrassing,” says Eric. “I can’t believe that adults actually act that way, but then again, I wasn’t exactly an adult back then.”
Drama aside, Shayla and Eric began to get serious around the end of the second semester of their junior year, right when they were planning to leave Montreal and go back to their respective colleges.
“We figured we’d stay friends and definitely try to keep in touch, but we didn’t want it to be all that serious because, well, we’d done the long-distance thing before and it just didn’t work out all that well” says Eric.
Shayla nods in agreement. “Right. But, when it came down to it, we spent more time on the phone with each other than we did with anyone around us. And neither of us started dating anyone else. So when it came time for Eric to go to law school and for me to find a job, we both started looking in the same areas.”
One semester of rampant emailing and phone calling later, and they both ended up in the Washington, D.C. area, with Eric as a law student and Shayla working for a non-profit that focuses on art therapy for special needs students.
“A few dates later, and it well…” Shayla trails off with a sweet smile.
“Yeah,” Eric says grinning, “we got married that July.”
They’ve now been married for four years and are still going strong.
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