Monday, 10 November 2014

Rewind & Fast Forward

As a 32 year-old thinking back to my high school days at Oakridge Secondary School, I admit that I'm conflicted as to how I feel about the whole thing. I wasn't popular, but I wasn't an unknown either. My circle of friends was large, but close-knit, predominantly female and consisted of girls who were and weren't popular, but were incredible (at least in my mind).

 Semi-formal, Grade 10 (1997-98)
Lounging in the halls...Grade 9, I think (1996-97)
A few us joined up for a quick pic before entering the auditorium to collect our diplomas.

High school didn't start off too well for me, lol! I struggled with the academic transition (although I'd earned the highest marks among my elementary school peers). I was out of place among the mostly rich students who were also blessed with beauty, athleticism, brains and the gift of being outgoing and confident. I was shy, scared and unsure of how to feel comfortable with who I was. Although I wasn't brilliant, I learned the ways of high school academia and my grades hovered in the 80s to low 90s (although Algebra & Geometry would disagree). I wasn't beautiful, but unique since I was one of two female Asians. I wouldn't consider myself athletic, but I was good enough to play mixed doubles on the badminton team. Eventually, I walked my own line.

 Grade 9 yearbook photo (sorry it's blurry!)
Embracing my weirdness at the Red Feather game (American-style football) in grade 10. 
Graduation photo

I was so focused on doing well academically, that, even though I had my fair share of crushes (including one on a geography teacher who was super dreamy!), I refused to let boys sidetrack me. Of course, the irony is that no boys actually paid any attention to me, hahaha! I never had a date or boyfriend from school and trying to find a date for dances and graduation was next to impossible.

Jo directly quoting me in my yearbook about my schoolgirl crush, lol!

Once upon a time (in Canada), high school went from grade 9 to grade 13, or as we fondly called it, OAC. Phys(ical) ed(ucation) was mandatory in grade 9. Now, I loved being active, and in addition to making the badminton team (yeah, you're still laughing from the first time I mentioned that, aren't you?), I also made the cheer leading team...I declined the acceptance, but I was happy that I'd been able to make the cut! Phys ed was always daunting to me because I had asthma (blah!), and I had to change into my gym uniform in front of 40+ girls who were waaay more comfortable with being naked in a public space than I was.

The first day of gym class I didn't realize we'd have to take notes. Lacking paper and pen, and knowing absolutely NOBODY in my class, I tapped on the shoulder of the girl in front of me who jumped at my touch and looked at me with a look of mortification on her face. I apologized and asked for paper and a pen, which she obligingly gave me. I introduced myself to her and gave her my hand which she hesitated to take. She introduced herself, and in no time I called her either Jo (thinking of her as Louisa May Alcott's beloved protagonist in Little Women), or by her Greek name. She's Greek Canadian, born to Greek parents. Eighteen years later, we're still best friends; her friendship has been the most important one of my life.

Jo and I at graduation :)

In spite of our lengthy friendship, I didn't know what her wedding plans were. I don't if this is surprising to people, but we never actually communicated about weddings. Is that odd? I don't even know. We did meet at a time in our lives when infatuation was an every day occurrence and fairy tales could still come true, when daydreaming of Mr. Right at times competed with our attention to Mrs. Wilson's bio class. I know we were both innocent and hopeful, but we only spoke of marriage as something that wouldn't happen for us. Most eligible bachelors ran fast and far. No, that life wasn't meant for us. Then we arrived at UWO (Western University) and smartened up: there were plenty of suitors, but now the issue was how to find that good guy who deserved us, the one we'd fall in love with? Unfortunately, more often than not, it felt like UWO was more like an Oakridge reunion.

Although I've been unlucky in love (let's face it, I've been unlucky in love my whole life, hehehe!), Jo met a special someone. Mr. S. I was normally happy for Jo when she told me of a new love interest, but Mr. S was different. Maybe it was how she spoke of him, or the fact that she didn't tell me about him right away, but I detested him before I'd met him. I'd prepared tough questions to grill him and my best stone face. Of course, my hatred was short-lived. He was good-natured, kind and funny, but it was how he and Jo interacted together when they thought no one was watching that gave me pause. He quickly proved he wasn't perfect and that he could be daft when it came to women (as most men are), BUT, I also saw a man completely accept and love Jo for all that she was and all that we knew she would be. I watched him show her a love that I'd only dreamed of having waaaay back, once upon a time. Eight years after they'd started dating, Mr. S proposed to my bosom buddy, and next July we'll watch them marry in GREECE!

With less than eight  and a half months to go, we went dress shopping in London (Ontario, Canada) on the weekend. It was quite an experience since I think it was overwhelming for me more than any of my companions (Jo, her mother and her sister). I'm not a fan of the economy of weddings. It's become such a commodity and expense that I feel the sentiments have lost a lot of their meaning. Sorry, I digress!

Jo had seen shoes in the front window of Petrov Bridal and went in to book a dress fitting. We watched her try on beautiful dresses, but it was a Pronovias gown that was the showstopper, or perhaps it was Jo beaming while she was wearing it that was showstopping. That moment for me was the highlight of the day. She was stunning: here was the girl who never thought she'd get to be a bride. When we were younger, we were so determined it wouldn't happen for us (for various different reasons), that we made a small wager: the first girl (between the two of us) to get engaged would treat the other to a grand dinner at a restaurant of the non-betrothed's choice. I lost. Even though I never entered marital "bliss," I was officially the first engaged, and as such, I owe Jo a dinner...Still. That story is for another day though.

 Jo loathes sequence, so this one was very quickly a "no," which is why I can post it ;)
Although it has a Spanish and Mediterranean feel, no one thought this had a "wow" effect. Next! 

Eva (Petrov), the owner of Petrov Bridal (http://petrovbridal.com/) is a long-time acquaintance and is AMAZING! I met her through her son, also an amazing person. Eva has such a beautiful heart and smile. Her patience must be noted and appreciated! We were booked in a private sitting room (it was huge!), and had beverages throughout our FOUR HOUR session. Eva sells European gowns available exclusively at her store! She's a classy, gracious, giving person and she treated us very well. I have only praise for the service we received. I've had friends who have purchased their bridal attire from Garber's Bridal, Balletts Bridal & Formalwear and Nicholas & Elizabeth (all located in London), and they all had the absolute worst customer service! In fact, when I was shopping for my wedding gown, I refused to go to any of these shops. I would never recommend any of them and would encourage you to visit Eva (@ Petrov Bridal), or visit a boutique store such as Leslie's Clothing, Lolita or Elizabeth Noel (all located on Richmond Street). I've made purchases from all stores and the customer service and prices were superior to those bridal stores previously mentioned (except Petrov Bridal).

Back to my best friend's big fat Greek wedding. Jo's sis and I decided to try on bridesmaid gowns (only two different styles), as a test and reference point for the other dresses we know are to come. Both were beautiful, but only one was a stunner! I'd looked at what was available for "maids" at Petrov Bridal. I will freely admit that I cannot stand bridesmaids dresses or the concept of them: overpriced, hideously coloured (I don't enjoy wearing colour or the ridiculous notion that ONE colour is going to suit an array of skin colours since that's almost NEVER the case), one-time wear dresses. It's such a waste of money, time and effort, but those are just my feelings. Anyhooo, I tried on the dress below and loved it, although I know what you're all thinking, "Mik, it's a July wedding in Greece," BUT, it's an evening wedding and we're apparently on a mountain...Or in the mountains, but it's supposedly cooler there. This lace and organza concoction was one I fell in love with immediately. Please forgive the quality of the pictures! They're the only ones I could find. There is a shot of me IN the gown, but because the floor model was too big, it looks comical and wouldn't do the dress justice. It fit Jo's sister like a glove and she looked FABULOUS, but for some reason I don't have a picture of her in it :(

 Lazaro Noir 3378: Front
Hello. I love you, dress: Back

So, it is with great pleasure that I announce the upcoming marriage of Jo and Mr. S! I've always said that I'll never go to Greece without Jo. Now, I'm happy to report that I will do so...Even if it means wearing a hideous, overpriced dress I'll never, ever wear again :) I'd only ever agree to it for my sister...And my beloved Jo, because, if you didn't already guess it, I'm not a supporter of the whole big wedding thing. I don't like weddings in general. However, I'm ridiculously excited for Mr. S and Jo's wedding!!! Greece! With AWESOME people I love...Including my date ;) It's going to be incredible.

To Do:
1.) Search Airbnb for a place to stay
2.) Request a list of official bridesmaid duties
3.) Get started on planning the bachelorette party!
4.) Learn Greek!!!

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