UR IN LUCK: When nature calls on a nature walk.

The unbelievable happens: I get a boyfriend.

Almost six months after we started a relationship and almost four since he had officially asked me to be his girlfriend, the word ‘boyfriend’ still feels alien to my never-been-girlfriend-to-anyone tongue.

“Hu-wat?!” You say, “A first boyfriend at twenty?! That’s as uncommon as virgins these days!”

Alas, I speak the truth. Particular members of the male species had always just been “my romantic interest”, “some guy I’m seeing”, “this dude I like”, and even “that boyfriend-material guy friend”.

In my head, I expected my first boyfriend to (be):

EXPECTATION
  • Korean or Japanese or Chinese
  • a great dancer
  • a guitar player
  • have the stereotypically narrow ‘Asian’ eyes
  • stand at 5”8 so I could tiptoe when we kissed
  • drive a BMW
  • have silky straight hair; and finally
  • a top pop idol singer.

In reality, instead, I landed a 5’11 radio announcer:

REALITY

Rasheed Clarke sat two seats away from me in my Making a Book class during third year in university. He helped me in class with his stupid advanced knowledge in InDesign, and he made me laugh with his stupid funny comments. He had long, stupid dark eyelashes that outlined his stupid brown almond-shaped eyes, and he always wore a stupid green toque.

We were friendly, we talked. And — Poof! — one summer day after the semester, we walked down Burnhamthorpe Trail together on our first date.

Having girlfriends who had boyfriends prepared me for the general dynamics of a relationship:

Promise to call here; he didn’t call there.
I love you this; Screw you that.

What my friends couldn’t teach me, however, was how to react when you and your boyfriend are in the middle of an afternoon walk, and he’s hit with the urge to shit.

– – –

                Rasheed and I revisited the dusty path of Burnhamthorpe Trail one Sunday afternoon. We watched the fishermen along the riverbank. We entered a grove of trees and sprinted out of it, pretending to escape from a murderer. We took off our shoes, he hiked up his skinny pants to his knees and we crossed the Credit River. We settled on the grassy field of Erindale Park and made out. We walked back as the sky dimmed.

Rasheed and I held hands, talking while we walked. We might have even done that vomit-inducing cheesy thing where you swing your hands together.

And then it hit.

And Rasheed let go.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Cramps.” He mumbled.
“Do you need to sit–?”
“No. Walking helps.”
“Do you need–?” My hands fidgeted.
“No. No. Just….” He bit his lip.
“Okay.”

Rasheed clutched his stomach. I offered my hand. He brushed it away. His face steeled, his eyebrows furrowed, and his smile left.

My boyfriend has Ulcerative Colitis.

Rasheed has an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The causes and cure remain unknown. There are times when he hardly seems to have it, and when he suffers from it most. UC strikes whenever and its symptoms include diarrhoea, rectal bleeding, cramps, fever, malnutrition…

It was the first time I witnessed his UC blatantly invoke him to relieve himself.

We reached the parking lot and walked to his dad’s CRV, which we named Abacus on our second date. A large, gray boxy thing stood at the end of the parking lot.

Rasheed asked me if it was a porta-potty. I didn’t know.

I squinted my eyes at the block letters as we approached: “UR… IN… LUCK. Portable–”

“How fucking appropriate,” Rasheed mumbled as he fished out the car keys from his pocket and dropped them in my hand.

I walked back to Abacus and hopped in, trapping myself inside the passenger seat. Rasheed recently had a flare-up, where his Ulcerative Colitis symptoms became more active for weeks, subjecting him to sprints to the toilet countless times a day. Ten minutes passed before I hopped back out and walked to the portable washroom. Rasheed emerged and passed me by.

We drained two water bottles onto his hands, for him to wash.

Rasheed stared at the water, at the bottle, at the grass, at his hands, never at me.

He thanked me and walked back to the car.

But I tugged his shirt, cupped his cheeks with my hands, and pecked his lips.

Rasheed held his hands behind his back, away from me. “I can’t touch you.”

“I know,” I laughed, “It’s okay.”

– – –

It’s okay.

No, I don’t have hero-complex. No, this is not pity.

This is someone advising me prior to my relationship with Rasheed that he is “too sick to date” and me replying, “If I had a male reproductive organ, this is when you suck it.”

Am I right? Or am I abso-freaking-lutely right? Yeah. I thought so, too.

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12 comments
  1. Josh B said:

    A truly moving piece. I know it’s cliche, but I believe it speaks for many relationships with obstacles to overcome. I love how this piece isn’t a sob-story to make you out to be a “hero,” but just a genuine, personal, even hilarious look into your relationship with Rasheed who happens to have UC.
    This is an awesome first post to your blog. You gave me a peek into your personal life, and now I want to know more. Yes that does sound creepy.

    • Jodelle Faye de Jesus said:

      Aw, thank you, you complete stranger you. I do make a huge effort not to sensationalize anything and not to preach. I’m glad that came through in my writing. I’ll try to keep the dramatics out in future posts as well. Please, creep on!

  2. Angelo said:

    Your blog painted a picture of the moment you were in. You used strong verbs that helped me understand the situation. I am glad to know the thoughts u had during that time as it makes this more believable. It has that human touch that I really appreciate. As what Josh mentioned above, it’s moving because there’s realism as the piece is very descriptive. Keep up the good work.

    • Jodelle Faye de Jesus said:

      Thank you! I still have a lot to work on in terms of writing style, but I’m glad that I managed to transport you into the moment (even if only a little) and pulled you into my head.

  3. “There is no limit to the power of loving.” ~ John Morton

    • Jodelle Faye de Jesus said:

      I agree.

  4. I truly enjoyed this read, it’s so honest and yet I’m sure many of your readers, like myself are unaware of how Rasheed’s sickness affects you. I can’t wait to read more and thank you for not making it a sob-story, but an experience!

    • Jodelle Faye de Jesus said:

      Thank you! His UC doesn’t affect me much, as I tried to show here. I see him as just being a really great guy, who sometimes runs to the bathroom more than normal.

  5. thankstomom said:

    Jodelle, this was a great piece to read 🙂 I love your dialogue. Since I know you and I know Rasheed, I don’t even have to read [who says] what because I can already guess by the way you’ve written it. Keep those unique expressions, remarks, and dialogue -sentence structures going!
    Also, I like the way you display Rasheed’s personality in this piece. Although I only know Rasheed from a professional level by working with him, it seems that all those characteristics he’s shown while working on the project have been retained in his personal life, with you. I think you display his personality very well in this piece, paying particular attention to his body language and visual cues [I particularly like this part: We drained two water bottles onto his hands, for him to wash. Rasheed stared at the water, at the bottle, at the grass, at his hands, never at me]

    And like someone has commented before, I have never realized the extent of his challenges with UC until I’ve read this post. Great detail.
    This post was quite humbling, thank you 🙂

    • Jodelle Faye de Jesus said:

      Thank you, Agnes. I think I must’ve blushed reading your comment!

      Rasheed can be incredibly reserved when he’s around others, and it still flatters me when he shows me what a silly goose he really is when we’re together. I hope to keep true to his character and to show more facets of his personality and mine in future posts.

      I think we often neglect to realize the real potential burdens that each person we meet carries. I’m glad to have given some light to Rasheed’s (and possibly other people with UC).

  6. Hey good job reading this in class!

    Just an update:

    I like the headings and separations you added to improve the readability.

    I noted that there are more picture now too: ie. the UrinLuck picture makes the story more real

    Interested to know more of the specifics of Rasheed’s sickness.
    Ie this particularly stood out for me:
    Rasheed has an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The causes and cure remain unknown. There are times when he hardly seems to have it, and when he suffers from it most. UC strikes whenever and its symptoms include diarrhoea, rectal bleeding, cramps, fever, malnutrition…

  7. Very cute story. 🙂
    What are the chances of a portable toilet being there. haha

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