Alison and Sie were living in an environment that they both thought was dangerous to their mental health and they were ready for a clean start. After just a couple of months together, they both decided to pack their bags and drive across the country. Together they’ve found a deeper love, for each other and for themselves.
Our names are Alison (She/Her) and Sie (They/She). We both identify as Queer and are strong family members of the expansive LGBTQ+ community.
Having both lived in Toronto, Ontario for some time, we made the life-changing decision to move out to Vancouver, British Columbia, in early August 2020. Since being here, we have both rekindled so much love in the landscape and the people we’re surrounding ourselves with.
One of these loving people is the exceptional photographer who invited us to take these moving photographs. Julia Loglisci captured our love in these photographs better than we could ever attempt to describe it with words. Based in Victoria, British Columbia, Julia has a fantastic way of intertwining landscapes and scenery with the wonderful people she photographs. We couldn’t recommend looking at her work enough.
Sie and I met after I moved to Toronto a couple of years ago, both of us with our respected partners at the time. We lived different lives and only really knew of one another through the grapevine. Once we both realized we were single (and a quick swipe on Bumble), it wasn’t long until we went from strangers in the Queer Toronto scene to candlelit dinners in a place we now both call home.
Though the vast majority of our relationship has been spent in the current Pandemic. I think it’s easy to say that we have countless beautiful memories of moments spent together. It wasn’t too long into our relationship when the conversation of moving to Vancouver became a regular topic. I had lived there previously and fell so in love with being held between mountains and the ocean. And, Sie had always wanted the push of leaving Toronto for something a little more kind. It was a risk that we knew was wild. But we decided to pack up our lives in a van and make the cross-country drive.
So, on one of our last mornings in Toronto together, I forced Sie out of bed well before the sunrise and packed us into the car with Sie’s roommate’s dog (who really got us outside so much in the first place), and drove down to Cherry Beach. We stripped right down and hopped into the frigid water to watch the sunrise together and say goodbye to the city we had called home for so long. To this day, this quiet memory is one of the most beautiful moments we’ve had together. Such a small moment, such an intimate time, that is held so warmly between us.
A: Sie and I have gone through a lot together and know there are so many challenges waiting for us. I think one of the most challenging things we’ve gone through has been Sie’s struggle with sobriety. I came into Sie’s life at a massive turning point; Sie knew that they had to make an enormous change to create the life they deserved, but was lost in the in-between. Their struggle with dependency was a soft topic that wasn’t brought up easily, let alone openly spoken about.
Being there as a partner and a piece of Sie’s family is something that I am most proud of. It took Sie a little while to understand that I was willing to be there through all of it. Seeing those vulnerable moments makes me want to step up to be everything that Sie needs. Someone who is caring, compassionate, and so strong. It also makes me so proud to know where they’ve come from and just how resilient they are in wanting everything that they deserve.
Getting sober is no easy feat, and Sie strives every day to be the best that they can be. I’m still learning how to be the best partner that I can be. I’m so proud of us for being so open about the struggle, the pain, and the process. This is the first time I’ve ever had someone so close to me struggle with something so complex. And I know that this will be a challenge for the rest of our lives. And I know that I am always going to show up and be there. Standing right beside them, through every struggle and every challenge.
S: What started as a lonely struggle soon turned into the utmost best, supportive decisions I’ve made in my entire life. My baggage was big and vibrant and, to me, was everyday life. But I was really struggling. I struggled with alcohol and drug addictions most of my adult life. I always thought that was something I would heal, tend to, and overcome one day. But that was still going to be something I did alone.
Then, after another sleepless night and a fuzzy mind, Alison and I went for a walk to our favorite little Toronto getaways, and I opened up about how I struggle. It was obvious; we both knew the elephant in the room. I just kept telling myself how that’s a huge red flag when starting a relationship. I gave her the out, and I honestly tried pushing her away, like usual, sabotaging myself. After what felt like my heaviest confession with no real direction of changing, she simply grabbed my hand and said, she’s here for it. She’s here for me if I do the work. With no judgment, only pure comfort and concern, I knew I couldn’t lose her.
After a few more kicks at the can, that ended like they always do – badly – I told her I was done with the lifestyle. I was done with solving all my problems at the bottom of a bottle, and it was time to get sober. I don’t do it for Alison, I do it for myself to be with Alison. It’s one day at a time, and I have the privilege of sharing this new found love for life with Alison. We’re better for the little decisions we make every day. It’s not easy, but wow, it’s so worth it.
A: There are countless things about Sie that make me fall in love with them over and over, every day. I could talk about the cooking, all of the fantastic meals that I come home to. I could talk about their eyes and how they tell me how much I mean to them with one simple look across a room. Or I could talk about their butt, and boy oh boy, I could write a novel about how great that one is. But what stands out the most is just how well Sie knows how to make me smile.
Even on my worst days, when I wish to stay in bed and forget about the world. Sie is there to give me a little glimmer of hope with some ridiculous joke. Everywhere we go, Sie is doing something so dumb that I can barely stand to watch. But it makes me smile ear to ear, and my heart warms up my entire body. It takes a little while to see this side of them, but when you get there, there’s no turning back. I have never smiled so much.
S: Alisons’ kind heart shines through all of my cloudy days. Her outlook on life and ability to handle every situation with such a comforting and kind approach really redefines how to treat one another. She expects so much of this love and comfort between us. And all I want to do is be there to meet her halfway.
Alison sees every relationship – whether it be with friends, family, people who pass her in her life, or me – with this sense of compassion that seems to come out of her with so much ease. It’s truly remarkable and leaves me breathless every time. She has this certain way about her that makes you feel like you could tell her the most difficult things that you’ve buried so deep inside of you and locked away like it’s just time for it to all come out.
She’s there for me at the end of every hard day. Unpacking everything that she knows I need to say, and wakes me up every morning after with a loving kiss and a promise for it to all be worth it.
Our future really looks so full of love. We’re starting to set our roots in this city that’s so warm and so kind to us. And we can’t wait for those roots to run so deep. We’re taking it easy right now, letting that love guide us and tell us what’s next. I’ve never been so confident that I want to spend it all with a partner. I can’t wait to build a beautiful life with Sie. We have a future full of camping, exploring, laughing, eating great food, and holding onto the things that matter most together.
We know that we have so much support and encouragement behind us, which is the most beautiful thing to see. I’m just starting to look into getting my Masters Degree, and Sie has just left the Culinary world behind to begin a career in the HealthCare field. However, our most significant decision right now is how to hyphenate our last names. Is it Cutajar-Butler, Butler-Cutajar… or do we go with But-Jar?
Photography by Julia Marie Loglisci