If I were going write the story of Georgia’s home, then i’d have to start with knocking on her families back back door every morning. I always walked along their front yard and around to their back porch, up the stairs, and tapped on the large glass door peering into their kitchen. I loved their kitchen, I loved the neon store store front light hanging up on the wall always there to greet me. Georgia was my best friend from nursery school, I had asked her to be my friend on the first day, and so we were friends. We looked like twins, both with light eyes, blonde hair, and similar in height. Sometimes i’d find myself walking over to her house without us even having plans, like it was designated as my second home. In the winter time we would run barefoot around her backyard crushing the Winnipeg snow under our feet, my parents would never let me do that. On our lunch break from school, Georgia, her sisters, and myself would rush home and upstairs to her parents room. We’d sit around their little TV after lunch to catch the lunch viewing of Full House. We loved Full House, we loved the Olsen twins even more. I was always Mary-Kate and Georgia was Ashley, it was as simple as that. Her Mom Judy would take us to St Vital public swimming pool after dinner and on weekends, the trail of strong chlorine wafted through the front doors into the parking lot. One time Georgia curiously picked up a lit cigarette she found on the street and pretended to take a puff before Judy yelled her name, I thought it was funny. Her Mom liked me, she’d always sniff my hair and remark about how clean I smelled. After swimming, we’d have a shower even though the chlorine probably wiped us of germs. We’d change in the locker room, laugh at all the old ladies in their underwear, Judy would routinely call us out and tell us why that was unkind. Her Mom would always let us choose a bag of chips from the vending machine, the gold mine and main attraction for us kids. I remember longing and wishing my Mom to be more like Judy, someone who was just more “Mom like.” As much as I longed for a more caring and nurturing Mom, I still would get homesick anytime I slept over at Georgia’s. There was something about the end of the evening, the darkness, and the quiet that set off a little fear alarm inside of me. Each time I’d stay over and without fail I’d promise her family I would make it though the night, and then each time without fail I would ask to go home. One night I made it through the night. In the morning her parents were like “See! You can do it Camille.” I was so proud that I was cured from my homesick disease, I was free! Georgia would sometimes come to my house for play dates, but we both knew it wasn’t the same. She’d come over for Sunday spaghetti dinner. My Dad’s peppery salad dressing always made her cough, she promised she loved it through mild coughing fits. There was something about her family that was different from mine. I didn’t question it, though I always knew that I’d rather be with her family then my own. Her parents laughed with us, they engaged our pranks, and pointless kid stories. Her Mom looked out for me when I told her a boy at school had pinched my butt without consent, the beginning of being educated about feminism and the patriarchy. Moving away from the neighbourhood, from the street and block we both shared was really difficult. I was more sad to leave their family than to be leaving my house. I think her family was a safety net for me, holding a special solitude that I didn’t know I needed at that time. Though her family surely had their own struggles, they had open arms to me whenever I came over. Having that element of love and friendship removed from my every day life really started to open my eyes to my own family.
Morning writing session with Firefly
There was typically a quiet chaos brewing, leading up to class beginning. With its collective of thirty, thirteen year old students as we navigated our rank and our voices. My voice was normally reserved and quiet, but lately it was becoming louder because of the boys that pried out my choice words. My comebacks to their teasing were still weak and that made them prey on me harder. Lewis was the new UK exchange student who found me to be his new Manitoba punching bag. I never understood when my Mom would tell me “Oh boys like to pick on you when they like you, that’s just how they are.”I told her “Well if that’s the case then my future in love looks grim and i’ll have no part in it.”
One time before the teacher walked into class Lewis jumped out in front of me and punched my chest repeatedly, for the entire class to see. I was embaressed, in pain, and I was angry. Many times when I would bike home from school Lewis would chase after, trying through sticks into my tires to make me fall off my bike. Brittany my best friend felt bad for me, but neither of us knew how to deal with him. I would clearly just look like a nark if I told a teacher how he was treating me and I knew he wouldn’t stop, so I kept taking his punishment for a while. I was not the one for him to blame his misgivings though I was still his easy target because he was just a kid who couldn’t express himself. A punishment not fit for me as his brewing hatred unknowingly mis-anchored onto me in the form of purple bruises.
That fateful morning, Brittany and I walked into English class, full of its normal loud chaos and chatter. Our teacher Miss Cranish was rustling around head deep into her desk for something to start her lesson with. This was Lewis’s head start and he grabbed onto the delicate amount of time. I was setting my books down while chatting to Brittany, releasing my body to sit into my chair. Lewis was behind me and swiped my chair out from underneath just in time for me to miss, my tailbone crashed down into the cement floor at full force. I then saw black. My mind detached from my body in that moment, heat rising in my body as the chaos erupted. I could hear a trickle of laughter begin it’s course as everyone in the class looked at me. My ass was in agony as I watched Lewis walk to the front of the class slapping high fives all around to his friends for the prank he just pulled off behind the teachers back.
He laughed along with the rest of the class as my body slowly started lifting up, Brittany was in shock and hoisting back up. Miss Cranish was scanning the room “What IS going ON!” She demanded. She was trying to gather intel from the students laughing faces, but it was too late she had missed the prank. Lewis was in a laughing fit still walking to the front facing away from me, huh, he couldn’t even look at me? I grabbed my large Five Star binder with my two textbooks still inside, my two heavy textbooks. I lifted it up over my head and whipped it as hard as I could, both aiming and nailing the back of Lewis’s head. Lewis was knocked to the ground and in shock as I screamed at him “Fuck you forever!” Before I took off to the closest bathroom. Brittany trailing behind in disbelief, finding me in the bathroom stall. “What the fuck just happened Camille? Are you okay?”I took a deep breath “ Yeah I’m fine. I think I’ve just had it.”
I got in trouble that day, because apparently the binder bounced off of Lewis’s head and then hit Miss Cranish in the face. I guess she didn’t understand my long standing history with what Lewis had been doing to me. I thought it was self defence, though Miss Cranish didn’t seem to understand that she just happened to be the casualty in my act of revenge. I remember my Papa calling me that night and congratulating me, he thought what I did was funny and brave, I basked in the glow for some time. I was just happy that from that day on Lewis kindly fucked off and left me be.
Firefly writing session
“You must not tell anyone” My Mother said, “What I’m about to tell you.”I had a sneaking suspicion whatever she was about to say would be something I wouldn’t want to hear. My Mom often masked secrets not fit for her children, an emptying bowl of gossip for her own personal benefit administered in a way that made you feel chosen and special. She often shared things that were more meant to be shared with a partner, friend, or therapist, yet she still didn’t seem to find a problem with airing out laundry to me so I took on the burden of her words. “I think your father is cheating on me, but that’s just fine because I went outside of the marriage before he did.”She said with a smirk. What in the hell, wait am I in hell? Is this what hell is like? Seriously fucked up mixed with extremely inappropriate? This was my father she was talking about. “What am I supposed to do with that information Mom? I’m fourteen!”My Mom’s face twisted inwards in disgust, it was as if I had thrown a bag of dog shit in her face, she was angry now. “You think you can talk to me like that, I’m your Mother. You’re acting like a child Mia.””Well Mom when you actually think about it I am a child, your child in fact. I just started high school and I’m the only girl that doesn’t have boobs yet, so yeah it checks out.” I said snarkily, masking the tears that wanted to come. I wish I could understand what I was doing wrong, wasn’t that a weird thing for a Mother to confide in her child? Why is she confiding in me?
If it wasn’t her mood swings, it was her drinking. Dad had to pick her up early last week. My best friend Layla from elementary always had me over to her place, usually I was there after school up until dinner time. I liked being there, her Mom made us snacks after we finished home-work, she cared about our silly stories that took way too long to get through. Her Mom would often drive me home and ask me how I was doing and would always say,“You know you are always welcome at our house Mia, we love having you over. If you ever need someone to talk to you can trust me and Layla’s father.”I knew what she meant, but I always just smiled and thanked her any ways. Layla’s Mom was having a party for her birthday, a lot of our classmates Mom’s would be there among Layla’s family. Her Mom asked me to invite my Mom and I told her I would mention it to my Mom. I thought maybe it would be a nice thing to invite my Mom, having her there with all the other girls Mom’s. All my friends Mom’s seemed so kind and loving while all my friends were always in aw about my Mom’s style. I guess she was pretty cool and hip for a Mom and though I understood why people thought this, I felt like it was a way to make up and cover up her bad behaviour and that made me angry, because no one understood. Anytime a friend would tell me “Your Mom has such cool style, you’re so lucky!” I’d think, “yeah well I’d give anything for her to ask me how my day was or tuck me in like your Mom does.”
My Mom arrived much later than me and most of the other Mom’s. She wore tight blue skinny jeans, a big Prada belt, black silk button up with pearls, leather ankle boots- okay, fine she looked pretty cool. She had shimmery golden eye lids that peppered the rest of her freckle filled face with sparkles. Her big filled in red lips matched her signature red hair and blowout, also probably matched the red filled glass of wine- or- several she had before coming. I could tell she had been drinking, I’d gotten to know the signs when I was young, shaky walking, laughing way too hard, and spewing inappropriate things. “Is your Mom okay?” One of my classmates asked, adjusting her glasses as she stood close to me. “Oh yeah she’s fine… don’t your parents get drunk?” I laughed nervously. My throat was starting to throb, it felt like it was slowly closing up. I wanted to leave but I couldn’t, not yet. I ignored my Mom and the uneasiness that came in the door with her and darted down to the basement, my safe haven at Layla’s. I sat next to Layla and two other girls who were taking turns on Layla’s desktop computer. “Can I join in” I asked, “What are you two doing ?”
“Sure! We’re taking quizzes about our future on Teen Pop, the first question determines how many kids you’ll have!” The girl said. “Apparently I’m going to be having five, one set of twins even!”She exclaimed. I thought to myself, I don’t want to have kids if I’m going to be anything like my Mom.“Let me just run to the bathroom first, small bladder over here!” I said as a decoy, no way in hell was I taking that quiz. The two girls nodded, Layla laughed and gave me a hug before I walked back up the steps. I took my time with each step as a wave of anger clouded with sadness poured into my face. I want what those girls have and I want them to understand what I have. My Mom is not cool, she is unwell. My Mom does not braid my hair and ask me about my day, she mixes martinis and talks like we’re best friends. I don’t want a best friend, I have one. Even my friend’s Mom’s look at me the way I wish you would look at me, but you don’t. It’s like you’re just not able to, that’s what I fear the most, that it’s too late now. I think I hear my name as I reach the last step up the stairs to the kitchen.
“Mia!” It was Layla’s Mom, she seemed concerned and my heart dropped because I knew what it was about, she didn’t have to say anything. “Yes?” I responded quietly as I scanned the room wondering, where is my Mom? Layla’s Mom pulled me aside, running her fingers through my hair. “Mia honey, I think you may want to call your Father to pick up your Mom, she doesn’t seem well.” As she said this to me gently she gestured to the couch. My Mom was sprawled on the living room couch, past out, her shirt buttons were undone and left sock was no where to be seen. The heat in my throat rose up into my face, my eyes started to well up but I was able to stop myself, I’d learned how to do that. I smiled at Laylas Mom, “She must not have eaten dinner before she drank, she always does that. Can I borrow the phone in your bedroom to call my Dad.” Layla’s Mom nodded to me and before I made the call I dropped a big wool blanket covering my Mom. I dialed home and got my Dad and this time I couldn’t do much to hold back the tears, my face was on fire. “Mom’s really done it this time Dad, all my friends and all their Mom’s saw her show up drunk and she must have made a fool of herself. I was gone for one minute and then now she’s passed out on Layla’s Mom’s couch, I ju-.” My Dad firmly cut me off. “Okay Mia, calm down with the drama. I’ll be right there.” I slammed the corded phone down thinking to myself, I am never having kids. I grabbed my backpack and jacket in the next room on Layla’s bed and walked out the back door so I didn’t have to face my Mother.
Morning writing session with Firefly Writing
It was the kind of rain that came down in armies of warm pellets, thrusting themselves one after another, adding and combining their power to the open water. I remember the last bits of sun as the sky grew grey, casting it’s ashy arms over Winnipeg Beach. It was our last day of staying up at our cabin rental. The beginning days were expansive with our delight in the newness, a hot, muggy, and exciting territory for the four of us kids to explore.
My hair decidedly drenched in lemon for the sun to cast natural weaves of blonde mixed into my dark blonde hair. Freckles illuminated and multiplying over the bridge of my nose especially as the days went on. The smell of sun block in it’s thick and pasty layer over my normally pale, now sun-kissed skin. Trips to our favourite diner “The Moonlight Inn”, attached to my brothers heavenly palace the arcade. Poptarts were my youngest sisters desired after dinner treat that we indulged in daily. A simulated berry compote wedged in between two sugar filled pastry bookends, our culinary preference was to have Dad slightly toast them.
The outdoor shower was strange, but we were kids and we didn’t really love showers anyways. My brother and I were to stay out of the house and ride our bikes around the town as Mom preferred her days alone. One day i rode my bike down a dusty and gravelly road finding myself doing an awkward dance with another woman coming the opposite way on her bike. In a short time frame I zigged and then she zigged, when she zagged I too zagged. She was nearly a few feet away while we kept this weird on-going dual. I thought to myself, “when is this going to end and how? For the love of god please let this awkward jig end.” She eventually panicked and rode into a ditch and yelling “OH DEAR GOD!” I was embarrassed that I was part of this moment that I took off down the road passing her concerned and confused friend along the way.
Our last day at the cabin was a rain filled day that belonged to thunder and lightning. We couldn’t do much on this last day of freedom, but my Mom obliged to my brother and I’s request and the three of us headed to the beach one last time. We had begged and begged for one last dip in the lake before packing up the van and heading back to civilization, with the reality of school starting up again. My brother and I laughed and screamed as we dove under the water with its steady waves swaying to the beat of thunder. We basked our back floats watching the light show above and feeling the pellets of water brush our faces and the water surrounding our floating bodies. The sunlight dwindling quickly as the grey clouds were closing in. We paddled our smiling faces back to the beach, satisfied and thankful for our last hurrah, the perfect bookmark.
Morning writing session with Firefly
I keep it because it’s pleasing to the eye aesthetically, neons sitting vibrant in their shapes, lying parallel, vertical, and horizontal, showing the range in artist skill and precision. This painting extra large and in your face when it’s observed on the wall, in your face in it’s organization, and contrived in it’s up-kept way. She gave me this painting as a house warming gift. I had just moved into my first apartment, my own space to make home. I was excited, warm, and open to inviting her in to my world again. It had been years since i’d last seen her in the flesh, though much like her art, aesthetically she always seemed together. I knew that inside there was hole carved out and hollow, untouched by love. She always had something to talk about, what she lacked in her emotional capacity she made up in her fashion sense. Her hair freshly done in her statement dyed vibrant copper, Givenchy perfume, and carefully curated outfit. She cared about these things more than caring about inside. I imagine the years she cared about her looks and it seeping in to block any inner growth. What a shell to distract the hollow inside.
The body never lies and my body shot off warning signals when she first stepped foot in my space, “She hasn’t changed and you know it” my body spoke. I welcomed her into my space, offering tea, history proving that serving alcohol was out of the question. I wondered if she wished instead for wine during this tense and strange moment. I then began wondering if she even felt the reality of this moment, maybe the weirdness didn’t even touch the strong spiral surrounding her. A spiral of superficial, judgmental, and manipulative proportions. A spiral that wouldn’t dare let anyone come close, its edges met with projection, defensiveness and a distorted reality causing itself and those around it pain.
Sometimes I would forget why I was mad or feeling sore towards her, I would forget the pain she’s caused to a lot of people I love. Maybe it’s simply because time has passed by, a lot of time without having a Mom. A lot of time that I had to figure life out without a Mom, because she just couldn’t do it. Time has come and gone so much so that I forget it’s not okay. Unaware early on of the validity in choosing to place a boundary in front of my mom. Sometimes I would believe she has grown, maybe it was because I had and have. I should never assume. I felt like an adult, moving out, the change that comes with it felt exciting and welcoming her into my life with another chance felt promising in that moment. I was hesitant as this is a push and pull I’m all too familiar with whenever I welcome her back, she often takes hundred of miles when I would faintly offer one.
I was nervous, she always had a way to overpower my kindness, to grab hold and make me forget who I had become without her. A master at small talk, even better at talking about herself. She gave me her art work, I knew this would be my gift before she even came over because painting was her passion and perhaps her saviour. Her work was beautiful, but giving this to me felt more like a statement then a gift. A daily reminder that I have a Mom and she’s not in my life. The conversation started bubbling into a gossip session from her, she started talking to me like she was my friend and we were out at a bar together pounding back Gin and Tonics.
The heat rose in my body while she brought up how she bumped into and spoke about me to an ex boyfriend, my wounds were still a bit raw with residual pain. Wounded because he was very much like her and I knew that I could no longer be around either of them. “That must have been one hell of a run in since they hate each other” I thought to myself. They didn’t like each other and both wanted to shelter me from the other. She would take me out to fancy dinners and try and set me up with waiters that she flirted with. Anytime him and I were to fight, he would tell me “oh you’re just like your mom.”Amongst other damaging words and omitting information, he would tell me no one would love me as much as him, or that no one would want to look at my skin when I broke out. I was caving inwards, imploding with rage and sadness. I felt betrayed, disgusted, and fearful of what was to come. At the time she was still in my life, so I shared with my Mom the hurtful things that cut deep. I shared the things that weren’t to her detriment, because of course she wouldn’t listen if I had told her everything. I needed both of these people out of my life in order to move on. I had come to this conclusion and that was when I went through the break up and when she was phased out of my life as well.
Years later she was in my apartment and along side the painting, bringing this old bag of pain felt really hurtful. She was braggy and gossip filled, happily dumping information onto me that I really didn’t believe nor did I want to hear. My heart sank with disappointment in that moment, solidifying that it wasn’t safe in her hands. I wasn’t shocked that she lacked this awareness in digging up old wounds, I was angry at myself for thinking maybe she would know better now.
This had been the cat and mouse game for the last decade, chasing a dream like thing such as a stable Mom. This game drew to an abrupt close in that moment. When she left I was angry and felt definitive in removing her from my life as I shoved the painting under my bed and away from my moving life. The painting stayed under my bed for quite some time and it probably would have continued to do so. I keep the painting and I was able to hang it up once I began forgiving myself. The process of forgiving myself was just as important, if not more important than forgiving her. The forgiveness process is much like a painting: it’s almost never a finished product when we are reminded of the past, though with each layer it becomes different, better, and improved. I forget sometimes that the painting has anything to do with her because in a way it signifies a mirror for how I forget who she is. With its aesthetically pleasing colour layers it’s become more to do with the layers of forgiveness. I keep it up now because I forgive her.
Morning writing session with Firefly
I rise after, tracing her side of the bed and both normally and un-alarmingly feel a pillow instead of her body. She used to not be able to sleep, maybe a few hours a night she’d tell me. I thought that was crazy, I wouldn’t be able to function along with most people in the world on only a few hours sleep. “Don’t you feel tired?”, I’d ask her curiously. “Nope not really”, she’d say. I thought she was so peculiar, though this was only the beginning of getting to know one another. I noticed shortly after we began living together that her sleeping had adapted to a more normal human pace, what a relief I thought. I remember one night I couldn’t sleep at all while lying right next to her.
She told me that her student visa was denied, I didn’t comprehend what that meant for her future as I was naive to understanding the reprocutions. She explained to me that reapplying would mean taking another chance at being denied and spending another big chunk of money that she didn’t have, for the last process was expensive. “But why did they deny you, you had all the proper documents?” I was upset and overwhelmed and panicked with this new information and frustrated with myself that I didn’t know more about the visa process. In a quiet and monotone voice she says, “They say that they don’t understand why I would enrol in a program that I have no background or experience in.” “That’s absolute bull-shit! So what are you not allowed to try something new? You can’t have other interests in a new career? How could they possibly deny you for that reason”I said hysterically, not mirroring her sole calmness. Our conversation grew silent and drifted as we tried to sleep off the sadness and flood of emotions. We couldn’t sleep of-course, she tells me that she’s thinking it would maybe just be easier for her to go back to Brasil. At that point I lost it, this just didn’t sit well with me.
I rocked back in forth in the bed, tears dripping everywhere while my mind was stirring. “Your dream is to live here, this isn’t fair. I can’t lose you to a place you don’t want to be in! It’s not right Thais, you can’t give up.” So simple for me to say, of course she felt the same but it was her life and not mine. I didn’t know what it felt like to leave everything behind to come for a better life and then so quickly be denied on a ridiculous basis. How defeated she must have felt, perhaps taking it as a sign that she shouldn’t resist this apparent fate. Selfishly, I refused to accept being separated from her. I looked at her and said,“I’m not letting you go back knowing how much you want to stay and knowing that I love you. I will help you figure this out and I’m going to find a way.”
Boundaries, the giant mess I had created without them. A boundary to me always sounded like an orange pylon that my soccer coach would use for soccer practice. To even begin understanding boundaries in the non-physical form was an adjustment. When you have no boundaries you fall prey to those that use this fact to their advantage and to get what they want. I think that those with no boundaries can be sussed out from a mile away with their easy going and ready to please tendencies. No boundaries for me eventually lead to deep regret, pass aggressiveness, low self esteem, anger, and depression. When you begin to place boundaries after living without them for so long, it feels incredibly outrageous, people begin to notice, and some do not like it. I sit around and I wonder where it all started. I wonder if I was the problem in those situations. To be so aware of other peoples energy and feelings, but seemingly blind to manipulative and self serving behaviour, I wonder how I was unable to see these things. Sometimes I wonder if I did see and I just wasn’t confident enough to put up a fight. I remember a relationship where I knew full well towards the end that I was sacrificing my boundaries, having them crossed over and muddled, yet I choose to stay. The ten percent of love and affection outweighed the majority of emotional games that heavily remained present. When I recognized this pattern of recognizing yet staying to endure, I hated myself. I no longer thought of these people as the reason for my pain, because I was the cause, I was the reason. I fear when I see other people in those situations. I realize that had I continued this pattern, how different things would have been. My first boundary was leaving or letting go of people who choose not to respect boundaries. I don’t even know if I believed in myself in the beginning, or fully knew what I was doing, however I knew enough to know that things needed to change. I really wonder and feel compassion for those that trespass over other peoples boundaries and I wonder if it’s because theirs have been so beat down and over ruled, that their judgment and empathy has washed away. I’ve started to say no to things more and more, starting small so that bigger boundaries become less daunting. Ive started recognizing how I really feel, honouring my feelings before reading into others. In doing these things there is no more room for cloudiness, for confusion, or for regret.
I want to remember our frequent drives down to Cherry Beach, eager Lua waiting in the back seat and panting with excitement. Whenever she gets in the car, she knows she’s going somewhere that will benefit her. Her face quizzical and wondering, making us wonder and melt at the thought of her brain calculating the chances of her going to her favourite place that is the beach. Her furry golden face tilted and star struck at the moving traffic outside the window, of course she knows where she’s going. Her deep maple eyes sparkle, speckled with amber and golden flecks, impressively long and thick lashes, and pronounced eyebrows. She can be more patient now, older, slightly calmer, holding deep tolerance for dogs around her, and even more patience and kindness for babies and children. We cross over the bridge that borders the boat docking area with the beach, boats bobbing and floating on top, swaying under the sunset. We curve right, Lua looking out the window with an eager look on her face. Her excitement never failing to melt our hearts, never taking her little life and impact on our life for granted. This summer especially, taking the extra moments to sit cross legged with her and our cat Nenem. I let Nem take her sweet time to methodically make her way to sit in my lap, a rare occasion now frequent since the pandemic leaving us home more often. We pull into the beach parking lot, Lua is on all fours now, moving around in the back seat, ready to bee-line and floor it to the water as soon as we open her car door. This summer we discovered how much she’ll stay in the water, how far she’ll paddle out for a tennis ball, and how loud she’ll bark when’s she misses our shitty throw. It’s mesmerizing. We watch and we throw until it gets darker, in the summer that doesn’t happen until nearly ten. Lua never tires, we’re always begging her to come out. We load her up into the car, damp, panting, lured in only by treats. She’s exhausted every time we visit the beach, once she gets up the stairs into the house it’s immediately followed by a prompt collapse. First she sits normally, then slowly and gradually slides her two arms forward until they’re level enough for her to drop her entire body on the ground comfortably. Immediately this is followed by a groan that makes us cackle each time as it sounds like an old man sighing of utter boredom.
From the ashes I am reminded of those that have physically left us, but from the ashes they leave memories and feeling. I think about the after life, if there is one. I wonder and get lost in this other world. I wonder if the afterlife exists, or where we go if we do in theory go somewhere. What is it like? Is it as obscure and fantastical as we make up, guess, and pretend? Do we become what we are supposed to become next? Do we automatically shed the cycles that we worked hard on changing and completing? I wonder. That’s what they say, that one part of life’s gift is that we can repeat or change a cycle that needs to be changed. These cycles that hold trauma, passed down through our family line. Is the next life healed if the pattern is fixed? Is it doomed if we don’t reach the point of fixing? How do we know if we’ve done a good job? I worry sometimes about not reaching certain points, goals, and achievements. My goals have shifted and become simplified over the years. What’s important has suddenly become narrowed out and clear. I started understanding the things that I was chasing, how I was chasing my ego a lot of the time. Maybe that is one of the cycles that needed to be changed, I think it’s one of many, or perhaps all humans need to change this habit of working side by side with our ego. To become clear on what we love and use that as our baseline when chaos erupts or when the mind strays and gets lost in fear. Old habits die hard, old cycles live on, but we can change them if we start acknowledging them. I used to, and let’s be honest I still do have the tendency to repeat certain ways of thinking. I’ve realized that receiving or producing thoughts or information in the same frantic and anxious way is a pattern I often repeat. I’ve also come to realize that it feels like shit and I needed to change it. I had to learn why I do this and what I can do when it happens. I’ll feel this familiar frantic feeling and instead of auto reacting I sit with it, and I watch it dissipate. It’s clear that we live in a reactionary world. Speaking out, calling out, commenting, rebuttals, all of these things are constant and expected. But is anyone actually getting to the root if everyone is speaking from this reactionary place? Do you actually feel that way? Is it going change how you feel if you speak from this fear based place? What if we all sat in the feeling and maybe we could realize we’re speaking from the little girl or boy who is still not healed.
I was writing my book now instead of just being in someone else’s. The feeling was curiosity in pure form, a lingering eye for excitement in the unknown ahead, I was writing my book this time. There was something about kissing a girl that didn’t scare me, it didn’t concern or worry my like it might have before. Or, maybe it was just the fact that I was constantly surrounded by Lesbians? There were no dramatic outbursts, disowning, or any sort of loss in it. It was a natural progression towards living honestly. I met a beautiful and caring person, so perhaps any potential drama was dimmed while joy and bliss were drawn out and celebrated. To be surrounded by a chaotic love was a different book, a book I was confined and used to, a book that so badly needed to be put down. It was book that kept reappearing and rearing itself right into my relationships, it kept being passed down through my family and lent out. I met her and it felt like that chaos and that book disappeared. Steady droplets of water flooding the pages and running the ink down its edges. I was writing my book now instead of just being in someone else’s.
I remember my first crush was on a boy in grade six. He was at least eight inches shorter then me, but I didn’t care. He thought I was really good at soccer, after I played a co-ed game, and so he asked me to go to a pre-teen dance with him. I wore a white halter top with a rainbow on it with gem stones from Le Chateau, jeans with visible gap boxers, I just knew how amazing I looked for my new crush. We slow-danced to “All or nothing” by O Town. “Is it all, or nothing at all? Or are we just friends?” The perfect song to begin crushing on this little guy. I remember the idea of him, telling my friends how he put his hands on my butt, imagining our future in high school together, that as the excitement. Things didn’t work out because he ended up slow dancing with one of my friends at the next dance. I ended up chasing after him on my bike to break up with him. A crush that once tested playfulness, now expired, tasteless, and tainted. I crushed on pretty girls, but i wasn’t sure if I wanted to be them or be with them half the time. Crushes that take you on a journey that is dictated by you, with almost no help from the other person, those are the most fun. The other person simply ignites the flame through one conversation, one smile, or by merely existing. The wondering day to day about if they think about you, what they’re doing, and when they will pop into your proximity again. In your mind they stay locked into your day to day. Everything else becoming mindless and floating as it’s not important. Days always begin with them in mind, what should I wear? What would I wear for them if we were together? Building this imaginary connection, relationship, and tension. An unhealthy amount of time spent on this fixation that hangs overhead, while your friends roll their eyes but can’t judge as they’ve been there too many times before. The day comes when you see this person again and you almost can’t bring yourself to say hello because it would ruin your idea of them. Are they better in my head? Have I created a story that I now need to destroy? Crushes are escapes, momentary excitement, innocent infatuations. A momentary excuse to be imaginative.
I was twenty-four free, unbound, on my own, and I wasn’t yet comfortable. I remember the smell of damp bars in basements with low ceilings and uneven floors reaking the aftermath of stale beer spillings. I liked these bars, to play pranks and people watch. I liked making people laugh because it made them feel more human and relatable, when most of the time I didn’t feel like I was the same or in level standing with people. If I made someone laugh then i’d take that as a sign that I wasn’t as alone. I remember the smell of cheap red wine and the potency of shooting tequila sober, I was never one for shots, except when I was tipsy, if I was tipsy then I was numb to the harsh taste. I remember being able to somehow drink a bottle and a half of red wine to myself, prepared to be unhinged, ready and game to explore the night. No sense of fear to the unknown, open, playful. On the outside I was fearless and energizing to be around, even when left alone I stood firmly and strong. On the inside and at the end of the night I was still empty. I felt I was missing something, a piece that didn’t click in. I felt like I was constantly in mid-air, ungrounded, waiting for a shoe to drop or for someone to tell me to land, somewhere. I was also hard on myself, constantly comparing my past, my progress, my achievements, and how I looked, yet I still stood in mid air… waiting. The more I floated, the more numb I felt, and the harder it was to take any risk or chance decisions. I was twenty-four and I felt like I was trailing behind like I was in school. In class i’d find myself pausing to look around at everyone seemingly having it all together and I wondered “what am I even doing here? I have no idea how to do this assignment.”In reality I was twenty-four just like every one else that was twenty-four.
Hello fall, are you ready for what’s coming? What’s coming? I remember leaves changing, the dewy greens and yellows falling into a brown crumble while new warm ambers, crimsons, and toffees are reborn. Cosy is the theme, it’s what makes us buy into fall and let summer go without regret. Fall makes me want to turn on Frank Sinatra and sit in nostalgia of the first days back at school. I remember those first days of fall being a kid getting ready for school, my dad in the bathroom shaving his beard, and waiting for his daily phone call from his co-worker that drove them to work each morning. His friend called before he left to get my Dad every morning, even though he’d come at the same time every morning, he still always called. This was before text messages and the universal use of cell phones. One morning I handed the phone to my Dad and told him his friend was on the phone when his friend was not on the phone. My Dad answered, “Hello… hello? Hello? Carl?” “Haha I got you Dad! Carl’s not there.” My Dad laughed and then I felt bad, I was never good at pranks. I wonder how mother nature feels about this particular fall, does she feel any better about the state of the Earth? Does she also wear a mask now and get angry at the idiots who hang their masks under their noses? If I were a kid, I would be picking out a summery outfit to savour the last warm days at school. I’d have my pencils sharpened and ready to do mediocre at Math and excel in English. I’d have my lined paper and dividers strapped into my binders and tucked away in my backpack. First days of school always brought out a new love for beginnings, in an anxious and anticipating way. Now fall to me is associated with nature and the day to day conflict of what to wear. The season and the changes setting a new tone for day to day. Clove, Lavender, and peppermint. Red wine, pasta, and popcorn. Dog walks become more strategic and take a little longer. Jacket, socks, boots, dog booties, dog sweater. It gets colder so time outside and tasks become more maximized and tactful. Tans fading slightly, freckles becoming more pronounced. The leaves forming in a brown crispy trail on the ground, crunching under paws, feet, and various wheels. Coffee shops start their advertisements for hot drinks and treats. Clothing stores start selling knits, plaids, and itchy wool. And Dollarama immediately starts putting out their Christmas and Valentines Day decorations. Fruit becomes more expensive and not as good. Our skin becomes dryer and in need of moisture and extra care. We feel the urge to stroll around more and my wife comes out of her summer hiding. A brasilian that hates the summer. The wasps kindly back off, where do they go? Little critters seemingly start their journey to hibernation and burrow til spring time. Comfy becomes a religion and cosy is the bible to follow.
It was the beginning of what felt like the surfacing and resurfacing of hidden residue. My mind seemed so far from my body and it was getting to be unmanageable, so I looked into therapy. There was something in simply just making a choice for myself that brought relief. I was scared, I thought there was something wrong with me. Even now when i’m down in the deepest hole I assume i’m far gone and wrong. How quick we are to judge, label, and be nasty to ourselves. I came to understand there isn’t anything wrong with ‘feeling.’ That was news to me, because it seemed to be a burden. When strong feelings refuse to back down and you don’t know what to make of them, it feels uncomfortable and at times debilitating. It’s a difficult tango of learning to honour them and allow them to stay for a little, before they leave at your discretion. It’s like having company over that overstays their welcome. It’s always once they’re gone that the clouds pass and I can smile, and see clearly behind me and ahead. It’s while those thoughts are in the present that seeing anything but them seems impossible. It’s like the company wants to come in and hold everything you love and move it around to the point that you don’t know where anything is anymore. The thoughts are never accurate or rational, but that can be hard to understand in those moments of panic. They feel real, but that’s all they are, thoughts that only feel real. I’ve gotten better at recognizing them, being kind to them while reminding myself it’s all temporary. Comfort helps in those moments. Being active helps, animals help, love helps, nature helps, helping others helps. Knowing that these beautiful things are not going to be the cure or the antidote also helps. A lot of the unwanted thoughts and fears are from young Camille, a Camille that didn’t know she was suffering. A Camille that didn’t know there wasn’t an antidote or cure She didn’t know that reaching a final state of happiness wasn’t realistic, she didn’t know that. She thought this for a long time and she waited. I don’t know when I realized that happiness as a state wasn’t sustainable or an attainable goal to reach, but I remember being relieved. I realized we are supposed to feel the depths of happiness, joy, anger, content, and sadness. I just feel and hold a lot of sadness, I’ve got a firm understanding of it. Because I understand sadness, I can really understand joy and sit with it, recognize it. I’m happy with being content.
Things i’ve started doing
fallen more deeply in love… with my dog and cat
cut out meat
made writing a daily priority
removed my own hair extensions
bleached my own hair and royally fucked up (thx Lou/Jo)
completed Mindfulness classes
realized i’m NOT perfect (still shook)
enrolled in a University creative writing course
started a writing group, wanna join?
made a really amazing friend and pen pal… through my sister tagging me in a random post on instagram. fate?
reconnected with old friends
pet a lot of dogs
started working out, finally (10 minutes of cardio still counts!)
started nannying for my cousin… of a 28 year age difference
fallen more in love with my wife, watching her work ethic is intimidating and also inspiring
began feeling more independent and in control of my own life
began a new part time job that i love
gotten loads of sun, best tan of my life, best deck of my life, a serious endless supply of vitamin D.
The touching of the disappearing things, the little knowings of truth that present themselves at unideal times. I know why we don’t talk about them. They make us weepy and squirmy. We aren’t supposed to focus or plan on death, other then writing our will and fearing the day people gather around us at our funeral. What do we do with this knowledge? Why do we suffer just by simply thinking about this? Why don’t we then talk about it? We talk about life when it’s uncomfortable, when we have to make tough decisions, and we sometimes suffer but it’s different than talking about death, still. Unless someone has a plan for us that we don’t know of, life and death are unknown. Do we give up and retreat, knowing the end will come? Do we risk the squeeze in our heart and the air being knocked out of us, when someones time is drawn to a close? I can’t imagine avoiding life in hopes of saving myself from inevitable pain. I can’t imagine myself numbing to bury feelings. I can’t imagine myself living and not expressing. I can’t imagine a life where I wouldn’t hold the ones I love. To break it all down is to understand reality. To see it broken down is to see we don’t have another option. Our only destiny is to understand the inevitable and find space to love until the end, whenever that will be. To take a risk is to understand the greater risk is succumbing to fear. To hold out and push away is to suffer. To hold your breath is to suffer, to pretend the inevitable isn’t real is to suffer. To not experience joy and the mundane in the mean time is to suffer the most. To refuse sharing your gifts is to suffer greatly. Admitting we are scared is human. I’m deathly scared of losing those around me, but I am not scared of living in the mean time anymore. What do we do with this knowledge? We continue, we work with it, we remind ourselves, we embrace the beauty of growth, and we respect it’s ending. To sabotage is to suffer greatly, to confront the sabotage is to live freely.