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They locked eyes at an after party, introduced themselves in broken nervous English, and unfortunately, he was just leaving because of a red-eye flight the next morning.
Jesse didn’t think he would ever see her again and of course he wasn’t clever enough to have gotten her number or remember her full name. Jesse's next few stops were in Ontario, where he had plenty of time to reimagine his fate as he drove long snowy highways thinking about it over and over.
He was scheduled for an art gallery in Montreal and Nicola was there for an art residency. As fate would have it, their art circles met up for drinks again and he had a second chance to properly meet Nicola.
They stayed in contact through social media and phone as platonic friends for a year before she got a job for the same organization that had sent Jesse on the tour. He wasn’t aware of this as their conversations were not as regular and he had moved on to new career opportunities. Once Jesse heard through the grapevine Nicola was in town, he didn’t waste any time. He made a date and they became a couple.
Nicola's new job asked her to travel to Australia for a film festival in March. It wasn’t long before Jesse and Nicola got her an early flight back home to avoid getting stuck overseas, however, she went back to Winnipeg to be with her daughter and they were still separated for five months because of the virus and family needs.
Jesse flew out to Winnipeg and they drove back to Ontario camping along the way. Nicola had to come back to be with Jesse of course, but also because her work was considering going ahead with the film festival despite Covid as no one knew how long it would last.
Before making it back to Toronto, they stopped on reserve Wasauksing First Nation. Jesse introduced Nicola to his grandmother and before they left, his grandmother gave him her silver bear claw ring.
Jesse knew why.
The film festival took place online and they knew it was best for Nicola to be with her daughter and for Jesse to finish up some work projects in Toronto.
Separated again, it was a long two months before he flew out there.
He had to meet her big Cree family including her daughter, brothers, sisters, and parents, but they accepted him even considering Toronto people were like walking zombies to them during these times.
Jesse came back to Ontario for work again, still with the ring, considering his grandmother's reason for giving it to him.
He flew back out for a week recently. He woke up early, made her daughter a blueberry banana smoothie and walked her to school, so Nicola could finish her Zoom meetings. When he got back, he pulled out the ring, called her over, and let her know he always wanted to get married.
She wanted the same.