Though we have likely told you this story before, we guarantee you’ve never read it in such great detail.
Summer 2014: Before
In the summer of 2014, Lillian and Christopher were both fresh university graduates of the University of Toronto. Armed with degrees in the humanities (his in Classics, hers in English) they both questioned their preparation for the so-called “real world.” Having spent the last 365 busy nights intermittently hunched over a keyboard or soaking up the last boozey drops of their care-free young lives, they had each somehow made time to apply for graduate programs.
Christopher felt a strong pull towards Archives and Records Management. He enjoyed his time working in the Trinity College Archives, and, as a self-proclaimed Classicist, found comfort in the presence of old things (and in the octogenarians who needed to be reuinited with the aforementioned objects). Lillian threw her hat in the ring for many programs, including a degree in Library and Information Science. She enjoyed shelving books in the large, turkey-shaped University library as it afforded her much time to listen to audiobooks and to glare disapprovingly at loud or unruly students.
This is how they both ended up in the same lecture hall on a Saturday morning, attending a non-mandatory but highly suggested orientation session at the University of Toronto Faculty of Information.
Fall 2014: In Student Government We Trust
Ugh, I know that guy from undergrad. That’s Christopher Hogendoorn. -Olivia E. Smith
That’s what Lillian’s roommate said to her upon seeing Christopher at orientation. Which is why, when Lillian saw Christopher’s name on a ballot running for the Vice President position on the student council, she voted for the other guy. Lillian herself was running for a Graduate Student Union representative seat. When the results were announced, they had both won their seats.
At the first meeting, it was announced that the Vice President would also serve as a GSU rep, and Lillian and Christopher headed to their first GSU meeting on a cold October day. Though Lillian came in with a chip on her shoulder, she couldn’t help but laugh at Christopher’s whispered jokes as the meeting unfolded. Christopher noticed Lillian was working on other assigments, and assumed she was not paying attention. However, when she volunteered to be on a special grievance committee, he realized he had misjudged her.
The pair left the meeting and decided to debrief (for purely professional purposes) over doughnuts at Tim Hortons. Then, they said a very awkward goodbye. In class the following week, they waved cordially.
Winter 2015: Wearing Fancy Clothes and Chatting
As time passed, Lillian and Christopher became good school-friends. They would often find themselves chatting in the student lounge or joking about their peers in a Facebook chat. During and after the holiday season, they both attended multiple social events, and each time they ended up the two most over-dressed people in the room, chatting snarkily in the corner.
But Lillian and Christopher had more serious things on their minds than dating; they wanted to fix the mess that was the Student Council. Christopher would be running for president soon (uncontested, of course.) But Lillian was inexperienced in student government, and wanted Christopher’s opinion on what position to run for. She felt torn between Social Chair and Academic Affairs Chair, and, after talking through her ideas for both positions, Christopher convinced her to run for both. He was impressed; though he always enjoyed joking around with Lillian, he didn’t realize that she was passionate about this work. He knew they would make a great team.
Spring 2015: This is Art
Christopher and Lillian both acclaimed their seats on the next year’s council, and together, they began their quest for
world domination improving student life at the iSchool. They celebrated together at the end of term party at the Gladstone Hotel. As they walked through the art gallery talking strategy, they each noticed a little spark. They moved down to the bar, sitting closely in a booth, their hands touching under the table. Lillian stepped outside to get some air and text her roommate to debrief on the situation. But when she returned, an unknowing friend had taken her seat. The two shared a knowing glance.
Snow in April
The following evening, they both attended a birthday party of another council member. The party was odd, and by the time the host started making grilled cheeses for all, Lillian had decided it was time to ditch. “I’ll walk you home,” said Christopher, a chivalrous man looking for a way out of the situation. The pair walked slowly back to Lillian’s apartment. It was a snowy April night, beautiful and romantic. Lillian and Christopher stood at her door chatting for ten minutes before she invited him inside. They were both getting cold.
They talked for hours. When Christopher noticed Lillian was falling asleep, he decided it was time to go. He wanted to ask her out or kiss her goodnight. But there was one problem; Lillian was online dating. In fact, she was already set to go on a brunch date the next morning. And though he liked Lillian and wanted the best for her, Christopher hoped the date would go south.
And it did. The man (who will be forever referred to as “Poncho Guy”) was different than Lillian had remembered. Or perhaps he just didn’t measure up to Christopher. On her way home, she texted Christopher to tell him how strange things had been. He was pleased.
First Kiss, First Date
The stage was set for Christopher to ask Lillian out. She had let him know in no uncertain terms that she was done with dating applications (though she was a modern woman, she knew Christopher well enough to know he was cautious, and she had set her eyes on the prize.) And three days later, after a student council meeting and a drink at a bar with a very unique jukebox selection, Christopher was finally ready to make his move. Standing on Lillian’s front steps in the rain, he geared up to make his move. But Lillian beat him to it, and the two had their first kiss.
Christopher, in turn, committed to planning a perfect first date. They both had busy schedules and had to wait 8 whole days to go out. By this time, Lillian was very nervous. If this went badly, working together for another year was going to be a nightmare. Lillian’s roommate grabbed her by the shoulders. “Lillian,” she said, matter-of-factly, “It’s going to be fine. He likes you. And, I’m pretty sure if you want to, this is your marriage to have.” (And, it was).
Across town, Christopher had planned everything to the T. He had gotten tickets for a dinner theatre comedy show at Second City. They would go early, order dinner (Christopher loved their chicken fingers), and then they would laugh their asses off. Little did Christopher know that the opening skit would be a comedy duo about sexual role play, and they would be role playing as librarians. In the dark theatre, both of the gingers’ faces turned a bright red.
Despite the rocky start, the rest of the evening went off without a hitch. The two planned a second date two days later (Lillian picked a small wine bar; she didn’t want to be near chicken fingers every again), but they couldn’t wait to see each other, so they grabbed drinks the day in between. On the walk back from the wine bar, a ring slipped off of Lillian’s finger into a sewer grate. “Don’t worry,” Christopher said, “I’ll buy you a ring.” (And he did).
“Not like that,” he quickly added, seeing the stunned look on Lillian’s face.
The two have been inseparable ever since. After a short 9 months of dating, they moved in together. Only 6 months later, they packed all of their bags and moved to the United States (or, as you Canadians call it, Amurrica). In North Carolina, Christopher became a part of Lillian’s extended family (and learned to tolerate the heat). Knowing very few people, Christopher and Lillian decided it was time to bring someone else into their home, and so they adopted a very nervous dog named Bailey. And after a year in the South, they decided it was time to return to Canada - carsick pupper in tow.
In June 2017, Lillian and Christopher relocated to London, Ontario, another unfamiliar city. Their relationship was solid as a rock, and they were ready to settle in for a long life together.
In September 2017, Christopher and Lillian went to Chicago to visit Lillian’s parents. On their last evening in the city, Christopher became very ill at a restaurant (totally unrelated to the nerves of declaring his intention to marry Lillian to her parents). They rushed back to the apartment in a Lyft, and Lillian and her father went to walk the dogs. Despite his very real, non-nerves-related illness, Christopher managed to talk to Lillian’s mother about his plans. She returned to him with a blue box; inside was a necklace with the diamonds from her mother’s engagement ring. She had worn the necklace on her wedding day. Christopher tucked it in his bag, and, like the rebel he is, did not declare it at customs.
Months later, Christopher happened to go to a jeweler with Lillian’s mother to repair a watch. He liked the jeweler, and he returned a week or so later with the necklace to have it reset into a ring. He began to plan the proposal. Christopher and Lillian had planned an overnight trip to Toronto to attend a lecture. He planned to take her to that same wine bar, walk with her back to the front steps of her old apartment, and propose where they had their first kiss. But the ring was not completed in time, and they set off to Toronto with his plans completely foiled. The morning after, the jeweler called.
Christopher picked up the ring. It was burning in his pocket. He did not have a proposal back-up plan, but he knew if he left the ring in the house long enough, Lillian would find it (she did). That evening, the two planned a quiet night. They would make fresh pasta, open a bottle of wine, and listen to records on their record player. After the dinner, Lillian began to tidy up. The two were still discussing their night in Toronto. “You know,” said Lillian, “I really hate that old people call me your girlfriend. You introduced me as your partner, and they still come back with ‘girlfriend.’ It just feels really childish.”
“Can you hold on one second?” Christopher said. Though he was not often spontaneous, he knew that this was the perfect time to surprise her. He went to blow his nose and retrieve the ring - stored under the bathroom sink. Lillian continued to unload the cutlery from the dishwasher. When she turned around, Christopher was on one knee in their very messy kitchen.
“Will you be more than just my girlfriend?” he asked, smiling.
Lillian dropped a handful of butter knives. “Yes!” she exclaimed. “Get off the floor!”
Christopher slipped the ring on her finger and they moved to their couch to notify their dog. “Wait,” said Lillian, “You never said ‘will you marry me?’ You have to ask!”
Christopher rolled his eyes and smiled. “Fine,” he said, “Lillian, will you marry me?”