Two ways to experience Costa Rica

Part One: Jungle life

It’s 12:30 p.m. and we are waiting in the customs line at the San Jose airport, the capital of Costa Rica. We are restless after sitting on a plane for five hours, growing even more restless as the customs line barely moves and our taxi plane taking us to our destination is schedule to depart at 2:00 p.m. With twenty minutes to spare, we finally make it through customs; we do a mad dash through the airport to check-in and go through security all over again, and then continue to run to our boarding gate. We are out of breath, but make it just in time. We hand out ticket the boarding agent, she smiles at us as we catch our breath, and says, “You made it! Pura Vida.”

This is not our first time in Costa Rica, so we know the Pura Vida saying, which simply translates to Pure Life, but said for everything. People greet one another by saying Pura Vida, they say it as a term of thanks, good luck, what’s up, and more. It is a phrase that is interchangeable.FullSizeRenderOur little 19-seat plane takes us to Quepos, a small tropical inlet backed by rainforest, where we meet my cousin and her partner for a tropical week in the jungle. We jump into the rebuilt 1991 Toyota Land Cruiser that is the pride of my cousin’s partner as we make our way up to the jungle. There is a bit of car talk, and the mention that 4x4s are a must in the jungle as we zoom by palm trees, a palm oil factory, homes, shops, restaurants, and hotels. “Look at the lines on the road” my cousin says; I look and they are just like ours – yellow on the outside, white dashes in the middle. Then she adds, “the lines on this road were recently painted, all by hand. Before, this road was dangerous. Cars would drive all over the road.”IMG_3058We enter the small town of Ojochal, where we say goodbye to paved roads, and hello to dirt. We slowly bump our way along the road: I see children playing soccer, chickens running on the side of the road, a mother feeding her baby on her front porch, and a man driving a young woman somewhere on the back of a little dirt bike. Shockingly, everyone that we pass smiles and waves – we are definitely not in Ontario anymore. We drive through a small river, ascend a scarily steep hill, descend another, and then climb one more before we get to the casa in the sky. Now I know why this truck brings my cousin’s partner so much happiness!IMG_2970Just after 5 a.m. the deep sound of howler monkeys stirs us from our slumber, as do the twittering birds, and the beginning of the sunrise, which turns out to be our alarm clock for the rest of the week. There is exactly 12.5 hours of sunlight in Costa Rica, no matter the time of year; the sun rises just after 5 a.m. and sets after 5:30 p.m. Left to our own devices we laze through the day by the pool with a book in one hand and a drink in the other. For dinner, our hosts take us to a nearby Italian restaurant, Mamma e Papa, where I enjoy the best homemade pasta I have ever tasted. The owners, born in Italy uprooted their lives and moved to Costa Rica to open a restaurant in the jungle. Seating is under a covered balcony, and part of the building serves as a hotel. During our meal, a tropical rainstorm entertains us and causes the electricity to flicker, which doesn’t bother our hosts as flickering lights is a norm during tropical monsoons.FullSizeRenderThe next day in 35° weather, we lace up our hiking shoes and venture to Cataratas Nauyaca. After a sweaty 4km uphill hike, with panoramic views that leave me breathless (that or being out of shape), we find what we are looking for: Nauyaca Waterfall, and to our surprise, two majestic waterfalls cascade in front of us. The Upper Falls is forty-five metres high, and the Lower Falls is twenty metres high with a tiered fall. After marveling at the indescribable beauty of the Upper Falls, we quickly rush to the Lower Falls, where swimming is a must. It’s an easy 4 km downhill hike back, where we replenish our electrolytes with coconut water straight out of coconuts that we purchase from a nearby fruit stand. A mother with her three children happily talk to us and laugh at how excited I get over the beautiful produce. We leave with a couple of bags bursting with fresh fruit and vegetables.IMG_3194Swimming in the pool no longer felt the same after that, so the following days we explore the land by ATV and go waterfall chasing! We find two incredible gems: A secret waterfall that is in someone’s backyard (visitors are welcome for a small fee), and Cascada El Pavon, a small but unique waterfall with a big rock in the middle. How did it get there?imageIMG_3388Because one must go dancing in the rainforest, we head to the Bamboo Room for dinner, drinks and dancing. The local entertainment keeps us boogieing until the early hours of morning – the smooth tequila also helps. Recently opened by a St.Catharines resident (I thought John looked familiar!) and well-known musician, the Bamboo Room is where tourists and locals go for their entertainment in the jungle.IMG_3316We spend a lazy day at a secluded beach, where hidden caves and a sand bar have us swimming, floating and exploring. Overhead, vibrant scarlet macaws freely fly from tree to tree, while unbeknownst to us, crocodiles were swimming in the marshy river 2 km away. One thing we quickly learned is to always watch where you are walking and to be aware of your surroundings – tourists (Gringos) walk with their head up high, where locals (Ticos) always watch where their next step will land.

And just like that, our week in Costa Rica ended, but not before buying a hammock to remember our week long siesta in the jungle.

Stay tuned for Part two: Resort life in Costa Rica.

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Breakdown of costs for for two people:
Flights: $1,900
Car rental + gas: $300 + 200
House rental with pool (7 nights – enough room for two couples): $850
Food: $500
Day trips (includes a day of zip lining for 2): $250
Extra spending: $100
Exit tax: $29 USD per person

Total trip: $4,158

This trip is super doable, especially if you split rental and food costs with another couple.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

Imagine witnessing your two best friends being killed: one caused by a drive-by shooting in a public park and the second by a trigger pulled by a cop. Can you imagine it? I can’t either, but for 16-year-old Starr Carter, this is her reality. New York Times bestseller, The Hate U Give written by Angie Thomas, follows Starr’s story after the unjustly death of her best friend, Khahlil, who was murdered by a cop, “Officer One-Fifteen.” As the only witness to this crime, Starr has to bear the outrage from her community and of her race.

Starr lives a stable life that is divided by two worlds: the poor black neighbourhood where she lives and the fancy predominately white prep school in the suburbs that she attends. Her father owns a local convenience store and her mother is a nurse. Starr wears expensive name-brand clothes, is a devote basketball player, has two brothers, and unbeknown to her dad, is dating a white guy from her school.

The inner conflict in the novel is the dilemma of right and wrong: Starr wants to do what is right – tell the cops, tell the jury, tell her community what she saw, but telling the truth could also endanger her life. Finally, she summons up the courage to tell the truth to the grand jury, and as the world outside of the courtroom waits to hear if the officer will face charges, tension mounts as the reader suffers with Starr, her family and the community.

The Hate U Give, named for a Tupac’s song, (Thug Life – the hate U give little infants f*cks everybody) is a novel that exposes the injustices of the judicial system, systemic racism, and police violence but it is told with care, intelligence, and honesty. The reader falls in love with Starr, and is connected to her through the use of first-person narration. Starr allows the reader into her world: she is funny, she is authentic; she’s a 16-year-old girl who is faced with a reality that is different from her prep-school peers

As a book found in the YA section of a bookstore, The Hate U Give reminds readers that radicalized violence does not limit itself to one age group, but is everywhere. Not too long ago I was sitting in front of my computer, tears streaming down my face, as I watched the live feed of the injustice, the gob-smackingly blatant racism that tragically ended Michael Brown’s life way too soon. This event opened my eyes to the horrendous and unjust acts people with ‘power’ inflict on the ‘other.’ I know events like that happened before, and they continue to happen,  but this novel, albeit fictitious, mirrored a life that my white privilege shelters me from, yet it served as a tool that cultivated an emotional understanding. This book won’t make racism disappear overnight, but it does have the potential to make one think and reassess their own personal judgments.

Read it! Even if you think you’re too old for YA, do yourself a favour and read it. I’ll even lend you my copy.

On a side note: Have you been watching “Dear White People” on Netflix? A show clueless white people (talking to myself) should watch and learn. Synopsis from Netflix: “Students of color navigate the daily slights and slippery politics of life at an Ivy League college that’s not nearly as “post-racial” as it thinks.”

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Five reasons why you need to travel somewhere with your sister

Let’s be honest, travelling is probably the most exciting thing to do. We count down the days until our next vacation, we daydream of destinations to add to our bucket list, we buy calendars with tropical islands, and we decorate homes with souvenirs of happy memories from places new. Travelling suspends our reality for however long we are away and positions us in a different space. There really is nothing more thrilling than experiencing the world, especially if you are travelling with someone you like, like a lot, since you will be around this person a lot. This person can’t just be any person, this person is your confidant, your co-conspirator, your wingman, your breakfast, lunch and dinner date, your alarm clock, your budget-checker, your authoritative figure (“do we really need to do another shot?”), your entertainment, your photographer and your compass.

A couple of years back, which feels like forever ago, my sister and I swapped our parkas and boots for bikinis and sandals and headed to an all-inclusive beach resort in Cuba. The resort itself wasn’t much to write home about, but the memories that we made will forever be a part of our sisterhood narrative! That vacation was the first time we travelled together alone, without the added baggage of our parents and siblings (joking, we love you guys!), and it was a much-needed break during school stress and a personal heartache. That week, with its white sand, turquoise water, palm trees and warm breeze, not only gave us a new perspective on the world, it also brought us closer together as we confided in one another about our lives, our goals, dreams and aspirations. There were times on the trip when we both got annoyed with the other, but the beautiful scenery brought us back to the moment of what really mattered: we were experience something new together.

These are my five reasons why you should travel somewhere with you sister:
(Note: Replace sister with best friend if you are sans a sister)IMG_2132

5. You get to spend quality time together. My sister and I live in different cities, so spending a week together brought us closer together as sisters and as friends.

4. You learn a lot about each other. Even though we shared a room growing up, and now text regularly while living our separate lives, we still learned a lot about each other during our week away. I learned that she is a nurturer, who is brave, fierce, smart and crazy.

3. She will step out of her comfort zone for you, like go skinny-dipping in the ocean in the middle of the night then run from security.

2. She willingly will take hundreds of selfies with you just to get the perfect one, and she’ll be your personal photographer.

1. You both have each other’s back, travelling or not.

As I write this, my sister is on another trip of a lifetime with your boyfriend backpacking though Europe. Her fearlessness and desire for adventure never ceases to amaze me!

Always an Anne Admirer

Anne

Have you been watching CBC’s Anne with an E, the wonderful story of the effervescent orphan, Anne Shirley? The same Anne Shirley preteens fell in love with growing up, the same Anne from the 1908 classic, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. Unlike the much-loved classic, this adaptation, written by Moira Walley-Beckett, is darker in tone and threads together new narratives, while creating a visceral show that is both real and intimate.

In CBC’s adaptation, viewers are introduced to the red-headed freckled and feisty feminist that Montgomery brought to life, while Walley-Beckett adds a deeper history to the main characters that are not conceived in the original story. However, this addition with its mixed-bag of emotions, adds a beautiful layer to each character: a layer of realness.

The shows intimacy is captured through the flashbacks viewers are exposed to – I use the word exposed, because that is what it feels like. The characters are exposed on a new level to the viewers, a level that we shouldn’t be allowed to see: Viewers witness flashbacks to physical abuse on a young girl; lovers that were unable to unify their love; to regret of words unspoken and actions not acted upon. These past portrayals give viewers an in-depth idea of who each character was before they became who they are in the novel, further solidifying the intimacy of the show. In the novel, readers grow with Anne and share a kinship to her need of belonging, love, friendship and growing up, but while watching the adaptation, viewers share in the universal pain of heartache that is caused by growing up.

I grew up reading Anne of Green Gables and savouring every morsel of her imaginative world that each new chapter brought; after the novel, the movie boxset became an annual movie-a-thon tradition between my mom and I, and I dreamed (still do) of visiting Green Gables in P.E.I and pretending that I am Anne for one day.

In my second year of university, I studied Children’s Literature, to be honest, I registered for the class because Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables was on the syllabus, and like every wanna-be avant-garde feminst student, I decided to write my final paper on Anne of Green Gables. It was a terrible essay on gender-normativity and how Montgomery transcends the ideologies of gender in the form of a Bildungsroman (just a fancy literary term for ‘coming of age’) novel. I may have also argued the homoerotic undertones between Anne and Diana, which contradict the conventional heterosexual binary prevalent of the era. Now you know why I said terrible! If you want to read it, let me know!

Unlike my awful essay, which no one should read, this is a series that everyone should watch, especially if you grew up reading and loving Anne of Green Gables.

If you are watching the show, let me know what you think. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the show.

Ring me your love

Let’s talk engagement rings. I don’t have one nor do I want one, but I do like to admire them. Who doesn’t like to look at pretty things? Half of the accounts I follow on Instagram are pretty people donning pretty things, and to me, a diamond engagement ring is a pretty thing I don’t need. Although, that has not always been the case: Not until recently has my diamond desire dwindled from wanting a big rock, nothing less than a karat because I deserve it, or so the jewelry ads led me to believe, to not wanting anything at all, except a simple yet elegant wedding band.

I mentioned this to a girlfriend over tea one evening, the horror and shock of what I said  was clearly expressed on her face; it was the look you would give your friend if they told you they robbed a bank. “What?! What do you mean you don’t want a ring? Of course you do!” Followed by the predictable, “You deserve one!” Here, I thanked her for nonchalantly saying I am a queen that deserves all of the jewels in this world, but the truth is I don’t deserve a ring – I don’t deserve something that my partner has to save three months of his salary to buy; I don’t deserve something I can’t reciprocate back. Reader, your response of, but you are giving him your love forever is valid, but then why isn’t my boyfriend’s love enough, why does he have to buy me a ring – a ring to prove our love with undertones of class, status and wealth. To me, it just doesn’t make sense.

A bit of diamond engagement ring history loosely cited from the Atlantic: In 1938 Harry Oppenheimer, the De Beers founder’s son, hired N.W. Ayer, an ad agency, to polish the image of diamonds as the price of diamonds was falling. N.W. Ayer set out to persuade young men that diamonds (and only diamonds) were synonymous with romance, and that the measure of a man’s love (and even his personal and professional success) was directly proportional to the size and quality of the diamond he purchased. There we have it folks, the genesis of diamond marketing – the bigger the rock the deeper your love.

ring

Dear reader, my intention is not to make you self-conscious as you read these words while glancing at your beautiful ring that was handpicked just for you by your SO, nor do I think the love my partner and I share defies commercialism (you should see all of our stuff!). The truth is, the older I get the more jaded I become, scratch that, the more practical I like to believe I’ve become. For example, let’s use that money to pay down some debt (boring!) or put it towards our dream honeymoon (better!).

I can’t say I know for certain what’s in store for my ring finger, but I am not putting that added pressure on my partner to propose with a diamond so big that even the Jones’ will be jealous. The big ring is just not for me, however I will still oooh and awww over other peoples’ engagement rings and I’ll honestly be happy for them, because diamond ring or not, the next step is the happiest of all!

The Mothers by Brit Bennett

“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unriped secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season. But we didn’t. We shared this secret, a secret that began the spring Nadia Turner got knocked up by the pastor’s son and went to the abortion clinic downtown to take care of it”.

Britt Bennett’s debut novel The Mothers centers around a young woman grieving the recent suicide of her mother, falls into a forbidden relationship with the church pastor’s son, has an abortion and then has to live with the consequences. However, these repercussions aren’t necessarily what one might think — and therein lies the brilliant beauty of this book, which challenges the judgments we make about women’s choices, and the people who make those judgments to begin with.

The Mothers explores the concept of motherhood while transgressing the conventional definition of ‘mother’ by examining the idea that mothering is an act and not the static notion that one is a mother because they bore a child. Mothering is the main theme throughout the novel even though the ‘mother’ character is absent: Nadia and her best friend, Aubrey, are both motherless and Nadia aborts becoming a mother. Yet the act of mothering is portrayed through secondary characters: A nurse at the hospital, Aubrey’s older sister, and the women at the community church.

Delving deeper into the undertones of this novel, I will also argue that the ‘body’ imagery is also an integral part of novel’s theme, from the physical descriptions of the main characters bodies, to the actions of human destruction on the body, and the role the church body inflicts and/or empowers on the community. The Church is a significant character in The Mothers as its body represents the older and somewhat hypocritical women whose authoritative voices are heard throughout the novel, it is is also a symbol of security for Nadia’s father after her mother’s suicide, and it is a place where secrets are told and hidden within its walls.

I finished this novel over a week ago, and am still thinking about the story and the characters who Bennett makes so human. This is a powerful, evocative, and sad novel about the actions and repercussions of love, friendship, family and loss.

I highly recommend this novel and once you read it, let me know what you think!

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A road trip with a hip twist

Seen on Chic Darling

A rustic adventure awaits as you drive into the peaceful borough of Prince Edward County. Brick farmhouses and old wooden barns line the country roads; repurposed buildings house antique shops; and the locals are more than happy to share stories and visitor tips. Referred to as ‘The County,’ this historical gem has much to offer and lots to experience for an exciting weekend road trip.

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Stay at the super-chic Angelines Inn in Bloomfield, where each room is perfectly curated by co-owner and second-generation innkeeper, Alexandre Fida. Book the master suite: outfitted with an antique chaise, freestanding soaker tub and down-filled pillow-top king bed. Dine at the Agrarian, walking distance from Angelines; pick up some local cheese and charcuterie at their cheese market before leaving. Breakfast is buffet-style in Angelines Hubb Eatery where you can eat inside or out on the patio. Grab your bike, or rent one at Bloomfield’s Bicycle Co. and cycle the Millenium Trail, a multi-purpose trail that was once a railway; keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. Relax on the beach at Sandbanks Provincial Park or explore the famous sand dunes and boardwalk trails. Dinner round two is at the Drake Devonshire on Wharf Street in the township of Wellington. This uber-hip inn, restaurant and art gallery overlooks Lake Ontario and is a hot spot for locals and tourists. Treat yourself to a delectable dinner on the deck, and make sure to order a glass or bottle of the Vintner’s Daughter; a red and white wine blend made exclusively for the Drake by Rosehall Run Vineyards.

Norman HardieSpend your last day wine touring. Stop at Hinterland Wine Company for unique sparkling
wine. You’ll be greeted by the family dog who is more than happy to lead you straight to the tasting bar where Jonas, owner and winemaker, enthusiastically pours sample after sample for you to taste and enjoy. Leave with a bottle of bubbly to pop open for a special occasion. Head to Norman Hardie Winery for their wood-fired thin crust pizza paired with a glass of their county chardonnay. Last stop is at the Grange of Prince Edward, where this dynamic mother-daughter team, Caroline and Maggie, infuse tradition and innovation in their winemaking style. The winery is a converted 19th century wooden barn; thrifted-finds and handcrafted wares decorate this charming spot. Leave with a bottle of estate-grown pinot noir, and a picnic-basket full of local treats to snack on while driving home.

For one last sweet taste of county life, visit Slickers County Ice Cream for a double scoop of homemade ice before hopping onto the open country road.

Marriage & Motherhood

Part Two: Motherhood

I hear it all too often: Your clock is ticking; when are you going to start having children; don’t you want a baby? I know I’m not the only woman who hears these comments, and am not the only woman with motherhood anxieties, yet it feels like I am the only one not having a baby?

As someone who has recently entered her thirties, the baby talk, along with the marriage talk, is more imperative, then let’s say, everything else (career goals, community involvement, creative pursuits, etc.). These kinds of questions further add to my motherhood anxieties, let alone, the main culprit – the natural pressure my slowly aging body exudes on the ticking time bomb called my ovaries. I know that I’m not the only thirty-year-old that is chasing time, a career, and an identity, but sometimes it feels like I am alone in this life race. Some of you may say that I am being over-dramatic and that children are the greatest blessing (I know, I know, I know) but so is the solace of a Saturday morning with nothing to do but the day’s crossword.

Maybe it’s all those perfectly curated baby announcements on Facebook; or the fact that everyone else IS having a baby but me; or simply, I’m afraid that I will lose my friends to mommy groups, but feelings of jealousy and resentment arise every time my cursor lingers over the ‘like, love, haha, wow, sad, angry’ feeling choices social media provides. OF COURSE I am ecstatic when friends announce that they are expecting (I’m not a heartless selfish b!), but a part of me falters – will that ever be me, and if so, when? Am I not allowed to feel these emotions because I’m not ready…If I’m feeling these emotions, then why not just have a baby? It’s not that easy! There are two things my partner and I need to agree on: Are we financially prepared and are we ready to adjust our lifestyle? Spin yes, fill you car with babies, if not, keep driving. Obviously, we talk about our future, and babies are in those dreams, but so is being debt-free, it will happen, but not yet.

I digress; motherhood is beautiful, terrifying, but beautiful. It is beautiful being able to witness my girlfriend be a mom to her little girls; it is inspiring seeing my sister-in-law and her husband lovingly adjust to their new life of parenthood; and, it is amazing seeing my partner interact with our niece, nephew, and friends’ kids. (Talk about ovaries on fire!) Yet, why is it that something so natural is so wildly judged? You didn’t birth naturally; you’re no longer breastfeeding; have you started thinking about your postpartum body; you hired a nanny; you want to go back to work over being a stay-at-home-mum? I cannot imagine the pressure mothers are under: The pressure to fit in to your pre-baby clothes asap; the pressure to be a perfect mother; the pressure to do it all on little to no sleep. It is scary! What if I need all the help; does that make me a failure? What if I don’t like it; does that me a bad person? What if I’m not good enough; does that make me a bad mum?

Last weekend, my partner and I had our precocious niece stay with us; it was busy, chaotic and fun, but after dropping her off, we both inhaled the quiet and exhaled a sigh of relief, and then my boyfriend turned to me and said, “that should cool your baby fever for the next little while.” That is, until the next baby shower invitation with all its cute miniature-ness lands in my mailbox.

Read Part One: Marriage

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall

“Imagine the person you love and trust becoming a different person overnight. What would you do?”

The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall is a novel about a sheltered and privileged family (WASP), living in an upper-class small town community. Life appears perfect for the Woodbury family: George, a loveable family man, likeable teacher, and respected in the community, lives in a picturesque home with his doting wife, Joan, and their daughter, Sadie, a popular A+ high school student; their son Andrew, is a lawyer living in New York with his boyfriend. That is until George is taken into custody under multiple allegations of sexual assault involving several young female students causing the Woodbury’s happy-go-lucky life to instantaneously turn upside down.

Readers follow the aftermath that these accusations have on Joan, Sadie and Andrew, and are provided a glimpse into their minds through third-person narration as their stories are told in alternate chapters. However, George’s character is silenced, causing readers to speculate and form their own opinions based on the facts and accusations that come to light throughout the novel.

The Best Kind of People explores the nuances around rape culture, blaming the victim, and the ‘what if’ debate. What if George was innocent and these girls lied; what if the girls told the truth but there was not enough evidence to support their statements; what if he did sexually assault these young girls?

This is an important read, now more than ever, as the Jian Ghomeshis and Brock Turners are found to be ‘innocent’ or face minimal sentencing for their horrific actions, while the women who bravely come forward are labeled attention whores and slut-shamed. Victim blaming is real. Rape denial is real. Rape culture is real.

Read this gripping and thought-provoking novel and let me know your thoughts! Do you think George is innocent or guilty? What are your thoughts on the novel’s ending, and Joan’s actions?

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Marriage & Motherhood

Part One: Marriage

As a young girl, I would idly daydream of my future love life: At 13, I would have a boyfriend; at 16, I would experience my first “true-love” kiss; and, by 25, I would be married to a handsome man, we would have two adoring children and live in a white colonial style home with navy shutters and a matching white picket fence. Fast-forward to present day 30-year-old me, living in a stucco/grey-green siding home with my common-law partner, childless and broke. Does present me envy the past ideals I had for my future? Definitely not. But, would past me be embarrassed of my nontraditional life? Probably.

Being a late bloomer, I was nowhere near ready for those wedding bells at 25; I was still learning how to live on my own while balancing work and school along with a roller-coaster of emotions and different medications that came with all of those mixed feelings. Maybe if Mr. Right came into my life earlier I would have been ready, but he didn’t, and I’m glad of that because I wouldn’t have been ready for him. At 25, I was learning who I was and who I wanted to be, while learning what I wanted mentally, emotionally and physically in a life partner. However, and contrary to the teachings of my upbringing, by my twenties I knew I wanted to live with my partner before marriage, thereby equating my relationship status as common-law in the eyes of the government, and a heathen to others.

Are common-law relationships lesser because there is no paper professing their love; is a couple ‘bad’ because they haven’t institutionalized their “I dos”? To some, maybe, but to the common-law couple they may be, and probably are, blissfully content with their current relationship. There is something wildly romantic about a love that it doesn’t need a binding document proclaiming “I’m taken” to the rest of the world; a love that transcends the conventional “do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife” jargon. However, on the opposite spectrum, there is beauty in promising eternity to your partner in front of the ones you love. Togetherness, whether sanctioned by the Church, or promised to one another silently is beautiful and should not require explanation or reasoning for the actions a couple commits.

Don’t misinterpret my marriage / wedding views, as those are still tantamount to 10 year old me (I have a secret wedding Pinterest board, and get girlishly giddy discussing wedding plans with friends), but what I am arguing is that there is no ideal age to marry and have children. Marriage and children, or the latter before the former, should be an organic transition in a relationship, not something that is done because one is suppose to or because everyone else is doing it.

There may not be a ring, the last names may differ, but to that couple, they have promised each other their own form of “I dos” which may differ from the norm, but to that couple, their current relationship status is perfect, which is all that matters.

Stay tuned for Part Two, released on Friday, March 17.