Thursday, April 27, 2017

The Best Laid Plans

by Giselle Renarde

May 1st is the anniversary of my first date with my girlfriend. A few days from now, we'll have been together for 9 years.

To celebrate, we planned a nice little getaway this week. I can't resist fancy inns, so I booked a couple nights at one we hadn't been to.

For weeks we've been talking about how great it was going to be.

We had our little road trip and that was fun. We checked into our room and it was so antique-y. Just what I love about fine inns. We ate offsite and dinner was great. Took a lovely walk. Back to the room. My girlfriend couldn't bear to miss Dancing with the Stars and she knows I'm not a huge fan, so she brought me a bottle of wine as somewhat of a peace offering, I guess. Made the show more fun for me.

Here's the thing: I drink alcohol very rarely, and when I do it's maybe half a glass of wine. I guess the saltiness of my kettle chips kept me sipping that wine, because by the end of Dancing with the Stars half the bottle was gone. My girlfriend doesn't drink, so that was all me. All 88lb me.

I didn't actually feel too affected that night, but the next morning, as my girlfriend was getting ready for the fancy-ass breakfast I'd already paid for, I started feeling... not good.

Really, really... not good.

Until this super-special getaway, I had vomited a grand total of TWICE in my entire adult life. But I guess my body wanted to remind me why I don't usually drink, because I tossed my cookies like you wouldn't believe.

And all the while, my girlfriend stood beside me, tilting a water glass against my lips every so often... until I started throwing up the water. Then she just stood there and watched, which was weirdly comforting. Throwing up isn't something I do too often. It was nice that she could be there to share the experience.

The experience itself was not pleasant. I became so weak and nauseous I ended up spending the entire day in our fancy hotel bed. I insisted my girlfriend go downstairs and enjoy breakfast. I knew how much she was looking forward to it. She came back with a bouquet of flowers and a get well card.

The rest of the day was just her taking care of me, which is something I've never really experienced. I've never asked anyone to take care of me. I've never let anyone take care of me.

I'll be honest with you: it was hard to ask her for even the smallest favours. I'm used to doing everything myself. At one point I was in bed and I needed a cool cloth to put over my eyes. I asked if she could run some cold water over a facecloth for me, and... she did. What's more, she seemed happy to do it.

I think that's when it dawned on me that the time we spend together is so valuable it doesn't matter what we're doing. My girlfriend didn't mind caring for me. She consistently put my needs above her own. I can only hope I would be so selfless if our situations were reversed. Pretty sure I wouldn't be. I'm not always the most mature person.

I'm still not feeling great, which explains why this post is entirely off-topic. Hopefully I've learned a lesson most people learn when they're 15 or so (don't drink half a bottle of wine) but I know this getaway will remain one of our most memorable--right up there with the day trip we took to Niagara-on-the-Lake when the power was out and only two shops were open.

Everybody wants a trip to be perfect, but perfection doesn't challenge anyone. Finding out how your partner treats you when you're sick (and, in my case, realizing there's finally someone in my life I don't mind asking for help) is much more useful than perfection.

Giselle Renarde is an award-winning queer Canadian writer. Nominated Toronto’s Best Author in NOW Magazine’s 2015 Readers’ Choice Awards, her fiction has appeared in well over 100 short story anthologies, including prestigious collections like Best Lesbian Romance, Best Women’s Erotica, and the Lambda Award-winning collection Take Me There, edited by Tristan Taormino. Giselle's juicy novels include Anonymous, Cherry, Seven Kisses, and The Other Side of Ruth.


  1. When I had my hip replacement operation, I had to depend on my husband for all sorts of things. I couldn't even carry a glass of water from the kitchen to the office because I was on crutches. Deeply embarrassed and feeling really guilty, I tried to avoid asking him for help--until I realized he WANTED to help, that it hurt him to see my uncomfortable.

    That's what love is. It's too bad you had to go through such misery to learn that, but it *is* a valuable lesson.

    1. I bet it's been a hard lesson for me to learn because I'm not much of a caregiver. I don't enjoy looking after other people (that's one big reason why I've never wanted children), so it's difficult for me to imagine anyone wanting to take care of me.

  2. Momma X has been caring for me since my Thanksgiving weekend appendicitis operation, then a bad cold, then I took care of her through her bad cold, then she for me again when I had MOHS surgery for a squamous cell cancer on my head, then a week later when I took a spill in the driveway and though I broke a rib.

    We were at the emergency room yesterday because she's been low-energy and out of breath since Sunday. All her tests came up normal so they don't know what's causing that.

    It's a matter of taking turns. So far, we've been lucky to not be ill at the same time. Sigh... It used to be years between doctor's visits. Seems difficult now to get through a month without a trip to the emergency room.

    P.S.- You're not cut out for booze.

    1. My sister actually took me to the emergency room last week (for a different health concern) and I was blown away because it made me feel like she cared about me more than I cared about me. I was very moved by that.

  3. Giselle, I'm glad you had a loving partner to see you through this, and I hope you continue to recover.

    I'd disagree with the idea that this story is off topic, though. I think you're describing something that really pushed against an edge for you. I have similar feelings, and I think it's interesting that it is easier for me to let someone cane me than it is for me to let them bring me a cool cloth...

  4. Accepting help can be a gift to the helper, and so can asking for help. In a way it's a trust issue, and in another way it's a sign of bonding. I wish my elderly father wouldn't keep feeling guilty and apologizing because he has to have help, but at least he's learned to ask for it. It must be hard to conform to the role of provider and protector most of your life and then find that you have to give up that role (although my mother was, in fact, on an entirely equal footing.) It's a very good thing in a relationship to learn to accept as well as give. Which, of course, is just what you've already said here.

    1. You've just reminded me that I haven't been helping out my grandmother lately. The last time I went to her house, the round trip travel time was SIX HOURS (even though we live in the same city). After that, my grandmother told me I didn't need to come out and help her anymore. Most of my family lives within a 10-minute drive of her house, so it doesn't make a ton of sense for me to spend hours on the bus just to get to her. Still... I'm relieved/guilty about not going.

  5. Aww, Giselle. This is a sweet story, though I'm sure it's not how either of you expected to spend your weekend. I assume there haven't been many drunken orgies since then. :)