With the closing of the year, and the nostalgia New Years Eve never fails to bring, there seemed no better reason to take a glance at what happened over the past 12 months.
When I entered the new year last December 31st, I was half-tipsy and half in love, giggling over a bottle of champagne amid the presence of my boyfriend’s family. There seem to be two types of New Years Eve’s – the one’s you enter knowing you want your life to change, believing whole-heartedly that as the clock strikes midnight some kind of new-beginning has began – or the one’s where you can look around the room with the utmost satisfaction and pray the coming year will be a continuation of what’s already started.
Last NYE, I was satisfied, content with my life, my school, my friends, and my relationship. I wasn’t begging for change, I was begging for consistency. And yet, consistency is the last thing that happened. Who knew I’d be so thankful my New Years dreams had been crushed.
The months that followed were spent fumbling through trust issues and emotional dilemma’s, and attempting to force the idea that maybe UoG wasn’t the right place for me out of my head. It wasn’t near all bad – rather, I had found myself gripping to contentment, settling for the happiness I had found as though it was a lifeline and looking beyond it put me at risk for all sorts of dangers.
For the most part, everything that happened after NYE seemed to be a ‘coming-together’ of my life. I had already gone through one break-up prior, and entering the new year affirmed that it had been mended and well put back together. Almost all of my friends now lived within the city, and my roommates and I had developed a close-knit friendship within the walls of our townhouse – one we wouldn’t have quite foreseen during our first summer together.
I spent reading-week vacationing in Tremblant – my best friend, her boyfriend, and my own. The four of us made up some kind of invincible group, our friendship intertwined by the statuses of relationships and roommates and ‘who introduced who, to who’.
After relentless months of problematic side-effects, and emotional instability, my body and mind were finally beginning to adjust. I felt a weight lift off my shoulders, and I reached a new level of mental stability that reminded me of how it felt to feel ‘normal’ again. I watched as the strength I gained was soon needed in order to support the emotional trauma certain friends began to witness, or continued to. It seemed I had finally found a use for what had gone on emotionally the past while, and there were many nights spent holding the hands of the people I loved that I will never forget.
Around this time it was as though everything I had worked so hard to fix, to overcome, and to become, had happened, and I was torn between resting satisfied with the way my life looked, and the relentless itch that maybe I needed to start looking for more. I began to confront the idea of transferring universities. I sprung the idea on my parents, and the mention of British Columbia, and it was followed by immense support and a recognition that this was the first time I had openly talked about perhaps not ‘belonging’ here.
I’ll never forget the time I sat in the University Centre and told my friend I was applying to SFU. I specifically highlighted that I was just going out on a limb to do so, and an acceptance was not a yes on my end. She then responded sternly, “You’re not applying to a university to get accepted and then say no. If you get accepted you are going.”
When I began to openly discuss my potential decision to move across the country, it received a lot of backlash – or to some degree, responses that were so limited that the silent treatment became a form of backlash in itself. All in all I knew there were certain things that would have to change despite my desperate desire to believe things could stay relatively the same even if I moved.
End of March to about June is what I consider an infamous season of break-ups. One by one I watched as relationships – including my own – began to crumble with our unwilling desire to let go standing near by. There were plenty of days spent hiding under bed sheets and littering the floor of my basement bedroom with used kleenexes and tear stains – days I spent too long in the shower – and days spent crafting up eloquent text messages that should have never been sent.
At that point I hadn’t learned the art in walking away. I wanted to be there, for every last blow to the face. To try again, harder, only to be reminded of the premise of what an ex is, and why in most cases it should stay that way. I learned my lesson – learned how to put people in a box and leave them there – and then I began to learn a lot more.
For probably the first or at least most prominent time in my life I found a strong sense of security in my own solidarity. I began to indulge in my own independence, and crave more and more of it. There is nothing like the first time you realize you are happy on your own – that perhaps you can look in the mirror and admit you like who you are – that you no longer rely on anybody but you any longer. This was my becoming.
And so as if to congratulate my new found sense of self-worth, I received an acceptance to Simon Fraser University, to which I gladly proclaimed ‘yes’. It wasn’t about running away – wasn’t about needing to escape from something as it once had been months before. Now it felt like I had conquered something, like I had grown so much as a person that if I was going to do anymore, it needed to be somewhere else, for everything I needed to deal with here, had been dealt with. It was time, it many senses, to move on.
That summer almost all my friends had become single. We held each others hands, listened to break-up music, wiped each other’s tears and declared boldly that it was time to move on. You drink cheap wine, you have dance parties, you stare at cute new boys, occasionally use tinder and kiss a few strangers, and you move the hell on.
My best friend had moved to Sauble for the summer, which coined our first official summer away from each other. Accompanied by a group of other friends at the same beach, it was a summer to be remembered. I was landscaping – working the first job I ever actually enjoyed, and pushing myself to work harder and harder. I went for jogs with my one roommate, catching up while staring at mansions and fantasizing about our future lives – drinking on the patio with my other roommate, and smiling in regards to the shape our friendship had begun to take on.
Another friend who had stayed in Guelph over the summer began making more and more appearances at my townhouse. Together we would watch chick-flicks, sleep on the floor of my roommates room with her and her boyfriend and joke about ‘mom and dad’. Our friendship grew more and more, tied together with new strings of understanding for heartbreak and what it means to leave.
It was the busiest summer I had probably ever had – one that affirmed that my energy had been given back – one that affirmed I had grown up. Between traveling to my cottage and Sauble beach, Windsor to see my cousin, and Muskoka to stay in the most heavenly cottage with two amazing friends, weekends were always full – and I needed them to be, for I was now beginning my long line of goodbye’s before moving.
One weekend in Sauble was accompanied not only by all the friends I had working out there, but my roommate, her boyfriend, and his friends. Sports on the beach, day drinking, BBQing, the bar, and long conversations at 1am on the empty beach, I think we’ll all remember that one night.
I began packing up the life I had created in Guelph – piece by piece, certain that I was making the right decision despite the difficulty in saying the relentless goodbye’s. Eventually it hits you, that nothing will ever be the same. It sounds over dramatic, or perhaps simply cliche in its obviousness, but it was there, and it lingered in the air constantly.
Bussing to campus in order to get to work felt stranger by the day – I couldn’t decide if I liked stepping into the UC anymore – as though I had become a stranger in my own city, and by choice. My roommates helped load the moving truck, we stood in the kitchen clinging to each other, joking that they might miss my mother more than me.
My family surprised me with an acoustic session in my backyard, sung by my brother and his wife, at my goodbye party. It was 2 days before my flight, and I was completely restless.
I remember getting to the airport – realizing I had hit the point of no return, and thinking “shit”. At this point it had nothing to do with leaving – it had to do with a 5 hour plane ride which coined my first time on an airplane. My palms sweat the duration of those hours, I linked arms with my dad, and yet even braved several glances out the window. I bare no shame regarding my childish appearance during that first flight.
When we landed in Vancouver we had just so happened to be arriving after BC had been hit with a big storm. Power was out in many places – including our hotel and several others we called as back-up. While power outages at traffic lights made our journey difficult we eventually made it to a hotel with power, and I sat down to remind myself how to breathe.
The duration of my week with my parents before school began was a mixture of highs and lows and a lot of “holy shit” moments to which my parents accepted even though swearing is mostly frowned upon – it was warranted. I remember the first time I wondered why on earth I was there – and then I remember combatting those feeling with my first trip through downtown Vancouver, and my first time standing on top of a mountain in Squamish. The first time I stepped foot on SFU I thought, if anything, this could always be my safe place.
I met my best friend the first day I moved in – bonding over an appreciation of boys and alcohol and a need to ‘do things’. Following that, I met an enormous amount of amazing people who have become some of my closest friends I could imagine. A large amount of these were found in my program – collectively we formed a group of ‘older people in 1st year courses’ and became close-knit. I also met my role model, a close friend who shares a personal understanding of our own quirky social awkwardness and our ability to overthink ‘which door is easiest for me to exit the sky train’. I look up to a lot of my friends, but this one in particular will forever be a complete and utter example to me.
We rented tandem bike’s and roamed around Stanley Park, went to Wreck beach after finding our way through the maze that is UBC – we’ve gone to countless pubs, school events, unnecessary classes, and many hikes. I saw Victoria up close and personal, hiked the Squamish Chief, visited Whistler, and fell in love with something new almost everyday that I woke up. The thing about living in BC is that you never run out of things to do – there’s no shortage – and despite the rain you learn to ‘just do it’ regardless. I was introduced to a brewery that has easily become my favourite thus far, spent probably too much money on pub food and Pizza Hut, watched a little too much Grey’s Anatomy, and ended up in just the perfect amount of “oops” situations.
My initial proclamation that SFU’s campus would always be my safe place was transformed by a sudden urgency to avoid safety-nets. Aside from lectures, sleeping, and TV marathons, a larger portion of my weeks are spent anywhere but campus. There is stepping out of your comfort zone, and there is shattering your comfort zone to pieces. I recognize I’m still working on knocking a few of the pieces over – but I got most of them down.
If I went on about what had happened over the past 4 months in BC, my fingers would bleed from typing too much. Vancouver is a tourist destination that probably every person would fall in love with if they stepped foot on it – but it’s personal now too. I don’t like Vancouver just for what it is, I like it for who I am out there. There are certain things that simply can’t be described. I can’t pinpoint why the person I am in Kitchener is different than the person I am on the West Coast – it’s something that just is. I thought I had grown up in Guelph, now I realize it was only a stepping stone to what moving out West had to offer me. I carried who I became with me when I returned for Christmas break, but it’s still not quite the same, and once again I’m left craving what’s out there.
Vancouver fuels independence, embraces an enjoyment of singleness and has an eagerness to harness spontaneity – I thrive off not always waiting around for plans, getting up and going, and simply not caring in the best way possible. More than that it’s new. It’s a city that doesn’t hold prejudice over your past mistakes or past relationships. It lives and breathes your ability to transform yourself into whoever you want to be, and in fact begs you to do so. This doesn’t mean that everything that happened since I moved has been perfect – far from it. Life happens no matter where you live in the world. But I became somebody I admired in Vancouver – hardship doesn’t change that, perhaps it fuels it.
So at first glance, it may seem like I’m going into the new year begging once again for consistency – resting in an overwhelming sense of satisfaction and admiration for the way things are, instead of desiring for change. But if moving to Vancouver has taught me anything, it’s to embrace change, and the possibility of it. If I can fall in love with the first place I got on a plane for, I don’t doubt there are more things out there that can flip my world upside down in a good way. I used to stabilize myself on the basis of consistency, but I think I’ve confirmed the premise that consistency is not the thing that makes you grow, and I swear to God, I don’t ever want to stop growing.
So cheers to the New Year – to going out on a limb – to learning to love yourself, and be yourself – to moving across the country and feeling like you’ve found home – to friends old and new, near and far – to everything that happened over the past year including the good, the bad, and the ugly – to being independent – to falling apart in order to put yourself back together – to the feeling I get when I wake up in Vancouver.