The past month has been filled with many unexpected adventures, reflections, connections, travels and moments I know will stay with me forever. That being said, I’m in a tough place right now—well, my heart and my bankbook are—my head seems to be doing just fine, and though thoughts of fear and worry float about it like motes on a sunbeam, it’s illuminated primarily by the beam itself. A ray of excitement, of anticipation, and of appreciation.
The worry stems from uncertainty—I’ve never done well with it, but I’ve never found myself in a position where I’ve been actively out of work before. It’s been about a month now, and I’m interviewing regularly, and have a few second interviews lined up this week and next, but I’m scared. In eighteen days, the money runs out. And I’m not in a position where I have someone to fall back on, to help. I don’t have roommates or a partner. I have to take care of myself, and EI is a) a complicated process I’m not sure I even qualify for, and b) half of what I was making. What I was making just about covered what I needed it to. I’m frightened. Friends know the story of my departure from what I truly believed was going to be my dream job, but long story short, it was requiring a lot of additional hours. Evenings, weekends. Always being on the job. I loved the job, but it was taking time I needed to spend on life.
Writing my novel, finishing my photography series, making music with my new band. I’ve actually always taken immense pride in going the extra mile, but sadly that mile was taking over everything, and I have to stay true to my own passions and dreams and goals as well as to the job I’m doing. There has to be a balance. Whatever I do, work or otherwise, I do it with my entire being. I couldn’t devote the time I needed to my creative outside-work projects any more, and there’s only so much time in the day. So, I find myself job seeking. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about the people I worked with, and I wish it could have worked out. But now, I must find something I can devote myself to fully during the day, bring ideas and creativity and positivity and passion to… that will also allow me to work on my own projects when the day is done. But I need to find something now.
But enough about that. I write here to document life, to immortalise not just thoughts and hopes and fears and dreams, but to capture experiences. I’ve had a number of those recently, and I find myself at a loss for words that would adequately do justice to the depths of gratitude I feel for having had them. First was my birthday. In all honesty, I was nervous about it. And I hate admitting it, but it was because I was single. I’ve been spoiled, ruined, for having had some incredible relationships, and days like birthdays make you feel like the most special person in the world to someone you adore, and the feeling is magic. It’s something I always try to give others on theirs, even friends, because anyone you truly love in any way deserves to be celebrated. To know their impact on your life, to know they’re loved, and to know they mean the world. To know they matter. I went to bed scared I’d be forgotten, and I woke up to sixty messages before the clock even struck 10:00. I woke up to more kind words and love than I could’ve imagined. I woke up in tears, the best kind of tears, alone and yet not alone at all.
I spent the day with my best friend, going to get fancy massages, having fancy burgers, seeing a brilliant musical with him and my mum in the evening (that also made me weep), and ended the night ten minutes before midnight with a long-distance phone call from someone I care about so very much. The next day I spent in the company of great friends, dressing up and looking like I’d time travelled to Walmart, colouring in shoes, hugging those who braved the storm and came out to share sparklers and cakes and tiny unicorns on sticks in various amazing costumes. I felt pangs of grief and sadness as I knew my wonderful Dad was halfway around the world, with family, readying themselves for my Nan’s funeral. (For which the order of service I feel the need to share with the world, it’s so beautiful, and tells stories of my beautiful Nan‘s adventures throughout her life.) Over the subsequent days, people gave me unexpected gifts from the heart, special meet and greets with animals, and so many kind words; moments in time I cherish dearly, framed in the feelings of love and appreciation that accompanied them. I was, stupidly, worried about that single day, but it made me appreciate the incredible people in my life more than I can say.
A few days later, I was speaking with my new friend The Artist, who I’ve mentioned before as having designed the artwork for my book cover and who I’d planned on visiting later in August. Before I knew it, I’d fallen into quite possibly the most random act of spontaneity ever to have sprung itself on my life, and I’d been bought a ticket to go the following week! I had some time off; we were both already far too excited; and after a weekend at the lake with some dear friends, I’d be off to Vancouver for the first time ever. I should have videotaped the booking of the ticket; anyone who knows me knows I can’t hide my emotions even when I’m completely alone, and there may have been more than a little jumping around the living room and clapping a la that girl in Love Actually when she has to excuse herself to hide around the corner just to squee. But first came the cabin!
I met T first through a series of photo shoots we’d done together. First, we were zombies to promote an apocalyptic airsoft game. Then we were vampires to promote a lavish ball taking place in the city later this year. Then we were in an advert for speaking French of all things (!) together, and then we were in a band. She’s one of the most wonderful, sweet, kind, talented, beautiful human beings I’ve ever met, and we’ve become good friends over the past few months. When things are difficult, she is there, with a handwritten note or a hug or a glass of scotch. When she knows I’m sitting at home mourning, she brings me into the sunlight, and listens. When I tell her my fears and show her my anxieties, she banishes them away. When I show her my songs, she adds harmonies and ideas and makes them beautiful. She’s an incredible soul, and I love her to pieces, and she invited me and my BFF out to spend the weekend with her and her husband at a cabin in Lake of the Woods, Ontario.
We took my little green science-mobile out through the storm of all storms, listening to everything from eighties music to indie to metal to a twelve minute “ghost waltz,” games and blankets and books and beer in tow. We all sat on a dock and dipped our feet in the water as the storm passed and the sky was taken over by soaring pink and blue. We sang songs, we played games, we read and wrote, we drank Pimms in the sun, and we ran down to the water in the blackest night to lay under the stars, all of us blanketed together, which glittered like magic away from city lights. We ate, we laughed, we created, we told stories, we went for walks barefoot in nature. It was a beautiful weekend, and I left overwhelmed with appreciation for having such wonderful people in my life.
A few days later, it was time to pack my bags and hop onto that jet plane and fly to a city of magic. The Artist and I had been talking since the beginning of the year, and I’d already befriended a few people in his circle I was hoping to spend time with. Fellow creators, musicians, writers, dreamers of wondrous things… infinitely talented people in a city of eternal inspiration. When I landed and this person I’d never seen face to face was steps away, I actually hid I was so overtaken with nerves and excitement. I couldn’t leave the airport! But soon enough the moment came, we hugged, we laughed, and we were all of a sudden real, three-dimensional people existing in the same place. I knew it was going to be wonderful. I was only there for three days, but Vancouver has stolen my heart. And I still get to go back in August. I arrived to the most stunning sunset which we took in from the beach minutes from where I’d be staying. I kept abandoning my new friend to go run into the ocean and feel the sand and water around my ankles, soaking in the view of boats and an endless glowing horizon. People were on the grass, living their lives under these dancing skies, warm sea air kissing their skin as they weren’t attacked by mosquitoes or canker worms or a neverending winter. Apartments and buildings lined the walkways that had gardens and trees sprouting from the rooftops. People played volleyball, or talked, or read, or just lay together in complete contentment. We watched the sun set and bonded over cocktails and cheesecake in a beachside cafe, noticing all the little things you’d never know from behind a computer screen, like the interlocking skeleton keys we wore around our necks, or a treble clef finger tattoo that matched the bracelet I was wearing.
The next day was filled with tattoos, spontaneity, amazing food, and my first art jam—I’d heard of this and was excited to meet everyone involved, and it was every bit as fun and inspirational as I’d hoped and imagined. A group of artist friends get together every week in a beautiful house for company, drinks, and creativity. I sat there half-working on a story, half-socializing, and occasionally “startending” (of course I brought Pimms, and cucumbers and raspberries, and earned myself a BC nickname!), watching in awe as those around me made music, jewellery, sculpted, and sketched. I felt at home with these amazing people immediately, and even have a new snail mail penpal (a fellow resurrector of the dying arts!). We listened to the symphonic creations of a new friend, bonded, made things that didn’t exist before that night, and I left feeling thoroughly inspired.
I was left to my own devices for most of my third day (work schedules), alone and fuelled with an excitement that seemed to float in the air and fill my lungs with every breath. I headed down beautiful streets and ended up somewhere that was kind of like the Village, but bigger and more progressive and full of unique shops and cafes and people to watch and imagine lives for. I stopped at a little German breakfast place, ate amazing BC salmon, and with camera in hand, headed for the sea. I just kept walking. I think I walked on what they call the “sea wall” for a while, making friends with birds and strangers and snapping everything I could. Eventually I came across what I’d heard so much about: Stanley Park.
I truly can’t describe the sheer scale of it. I stumbled across a small path that led to immense trees and threw myself in—and there I found myself surrounded by a towering forest of every green, not a soul to be seen. I wish I’d brought my tripod, but I fashioned one out of twigs and rocks and managed to get more than enough photos of my time there. I sat in a clearing as the sun pierced through the canopy reading a story of incredible adventure. I wandered through trails and climbed trees and danced in the foliage on my own. I discovered a lost lagoon and took in a breathtaking view of the city I’d fallen in love with.
And after a few hours basking in nature and literature by myself, I met up with my awesome new friend from art jam, The Oneironaut, who took me on an amazing motorcycle ride across town to Granville Island. It was pouring, but the thrill of being there was my umbrella and for the first time I didn’t care about my frizzy hair. I explored an entire children’s shopping centre, met another new friend for pie in a mug, bought robot art, and ended up meeting The Artist when he got off work at the actual Granville Island brewery! We had a pint, found a stunning fancy hat shop I desperately want to shoot a music video in, bought some amazing food and headed home, on a boat, to get “all dapper” for a night on the town.
Gastown! I was so excited to see the cobblestoned streets, the steam powered clock, and the culture I felt tugging at my heart. We got dressed up, listened to Frank Sinatra, and went to meet another new friend who I loved instantly (a fellow expat, Bowie aficionado, who has the same map cushions I do). We all watched eighties music videos and then headed for this wonderful place, where a friend of mine from Winnipeg also happened to be that night. We saw the clock! We had cocktails named after Britpop anthems. We danced to nineties hits and stayed until close, headed home and ate the best pasta I’ve ever had in my life.
The next morning brought fancy coffee, Indian food, art, impromptu street dancing, and giant robots… the products of the imagination of another new friend. Seriously, these people are ridiculously amazing. And then I packed, and found myself at the airport (where I had to Shazam the aptness of the soundtrack I found myself accompanied by in the restaurant, as a song I didn’t know sang out “this is the place you belong” over and over… and it was over.
But it wasn’t. It isn’t. I have a whole bunch of new, amazing people in my life. I get to visit their magical city again in six weeks’ time and take in even more. Tonight, one of my favourite people in the world arrives for twelve days (it’s Fringe time! My favourite of the entire year! And everyone in Winnipeg must promise to see his show. One-man Back to the Future. It’s going to be fantastic.). I get to make more music with my insanely talented bandmates. I get to take photos. And hopefully, if I’m very, very lucky, I’ll find myself a job, and the last summer of my twenties will be nothing short of epic. I have a sneaking suspicion everything is going to work out more than fine.