I Have No Idea What I am Doing Or Where I am Going…

I was sat on a plane from Toronto to Calgary amid my first proper business trip and I was filling my time with an overdue image purge on my phone. That was what I told myself anyway, it was actually a bit of an excuse to go through old memories from the past year and beyond. Flying makes me a little bit nervous, even now, and indulging in old memories is kind of a cornerstone to swerve me from in-flight anxiety.

It was all there. I got this phone exactly at the same time as I broke up with Will and so it really does accurately document this chapter that I am living in. As I was scrolling through fancy meals, camping trips and photos of my niece dressed as an astronaut, I found a picture I had taken last year during an interactive performance art night at the Anndore House, a hotel in Downtown Toronto. One bedroom was strung with string and pegs. A paper and a pencil were laid out and we were invited to write down a secret. Any secret. Get something off my mind, they said. At that time, my mind was swilling with too much something that I had no idea what exactly to get off. Still, I put pencil to paper. I took a picture of my secret.  The date on my photo was April 25th 2018. Almost exactly a year ago. This is what I wrote:

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“I have no fucking idea what I am doing or where I am going. I’m not even sure if that’s okay.”

I pegged it up there. I looked at it among the others. There were some messages of hope, some messages of heartbreak, some of promise, others of love, and then mine. I had no clue.  I really didn’t have any idea. My life had just shifted and shook and I could no longer see a future. For the first time, probably in my life actually, I had no goal I was working towards. Flux.

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I remember the rest of that night clearly. Ruth and I drank cocktails and took pictures of each other wearing glittery jackets. I’m smiling in the pictures but I know I am not well.  I walked 5 kilometres home in the rain in ballet pumps. Squelching my way through the door of my one bed rental, I drained out my shoes and left warm wet footprints on the kitchen tiles. I laid down on the living room floor and stared at the ceiling. A year ago from that moment and I could have walked home to find Will playing guitar in the old bank vault, a weird secret extra room in our house that he used for music. He would have asked if I wanted a beer, we would have cracked an Upper Canada Dark Ale and listened to Roxy Music until I fell asleep on the terrible IKEA couch we had panic bought in our first month in Canada. That terrible couch is about the only thing from my former life I still have; it was oh so generously bestowed upon me when I moved out.  Thanks, Will.  Before I had even left he had bought a new couch for himself; gold, plump and glorious. He had also bought several big house plants and some new artwork. When I walked through the door to pick up my bags on that long day from the London, things had already changed. He had begun his process of erasing me and I understood why. I wish I’d of had the budget to do the same back then because maybe new things would have filled the burgeoning void. But here, in April 2018, on this new floor of a house not yet built up with memories, I felt lost.

Today my house looks different, I look different and…well… I don’t know if brains can ever really look too different, but it feels different inside my head now. I’d say I’ve redecorated, but I think remodeled would be a fairer comparison. I’m comfortable in there now. I daresay I am even happy. As I looked back in April 2018, at my pencil note pegged to string stretching across a hotel bedroom, I realised for the first time that I am not that person anymore. I am sure Ruth and my other friends could have told you that, but I didn’t really know. Since I walked out of my old life and tried to make a new one happen, at the back of my mind I was always carrying a sadness. I could see it in so many of my photographs from the year before, but as I sat there on the plane I realised that that sadness had gone. Without knowing it, I had started a new chapter.

As the clouds flew by my window, I flicked through more photos, trying to pinpoint the moment that it went away; the moment I stopped being sad and started being, well, whatever I am now.  Pouring over the images of me charging glasses with my friends, swimming in lakes, taking trips, I tried to find the shift. AND… I think I found it. Only it wasn’t just one moment, it was two months of moments, forged from placing one foot after another. The moment I stepped on the bus to Manhattan in December, the day I was stranded in Budapest, my niece on my lap on Christmas Day, my mum, my sister, the flight back to Toronto, a bad New Year to knock me down again, an excellent birthday to bring me back and a commitment to being better. Somewhere in the middle I had found who I am now, the girl on the plane about to spend four days in the mountains.  

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I had the most incredible four days in Banff.  It felt right. I felt like me. I was where I was supposed to be. Instead of sadness, it was gratitude I carried at the back of my mind, and determination to make moments like this my life. Perhaps when I look back at the pictures I took in Banff on one day in the future, I will realise that the girl in the mountains isn’t me anymore too, but I’ll always love her, like I love April 2018 me, even though she was so sad.

Time. Fucking hell, time. Time is magic. Time is spring. Time is ebb and time is flow. If learned anything from looking back to April 2018 it is that time is always working, ticking away carrying you from one second to the next. If I ever feel like that girl again, I will put my trust in time.

There is something else I didn’t tell you about that night and that room with the pegs, but it is probably the most important. Ruth, a babe for the ages, my forever love, had written her own message and pegged it up among the rest. She had a smile on her face so I went over to read it. It read:

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“My best friend is the kindest most inspirational woman in the world (not even a secret!)”

Time. It has your back. But in the meantime, your best friends have got you. Thank you, Ruth, for believing in me and for being there. All of the time.

Oh, and… I still don’t really know what I am doing or where I am going. But I have decided that that is more than okay.

Justice

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I don’t have the answers to life, its meaning and the universe, but one thing I do believe in is Karma. I believe in Karma and I believe in justice.

Justice has got me in trouble in the past. I feel a deep routed need for justice. I am and have always been willing to take responsibility for my own actions, even when I am wrong. ESPECIALLY when I am wrong. I am, within my power, as fair as I can be. So, when people are not fair in their actions towards me or I am blamed for something that I did not do, or called something I am not,  my inner sense of justice is triggered. I feel a rise from my toes to my ankles, up to my knees, through my thighs, deep in my belly, punctuating my heartbeats, rising through my chest, up my neck, prickling my tongue and burning my mouth. “JUSTICE!”  I used to proclaim it. I used to scream it. I’d tell you it wasn’t fair. I’d stamp my feet. I’d inhale too much air. I would huff and I would puff, but somehow your house would stay firmly in place. You see, justice is tricky. Justice is louder than I could ever scream yet quieter than I could ever muster. I have found that protesting my innocence doesn’t equate to proving it.  I’ve found calling you out doesn’t change your behaviour. Sometimes with justice, you just have to wait.

My problem, traditionally anyway, is that I have always been loud. But I’m learning to shut my mouth and trust justice. I’ve learned that broadcasting my innocence or correcting narrative errors can be a waste of my breath to the people that don’t want to hear it. That is the most frustrating part. If you are also awaiting justice, solidarity friend. I feel you. But trust me. Or don’t. Trust justice.

Let me give you some context, but by no means is this the full end to my experiences over the past few years. Fairly recently I heard a version of a narrative about me that I not only did not agree with, but was being freely perpetuated to people that I would rather not believe that telling of me to be true, because it wasn’t…and…you know…justice. Instead of raising my voice and stamping my feet I went straight to the source, something in my adult years I would always recommend. Fool me once for thinking this would be a way to seek my justice because it wasn’t. I then found the issue was bigger than I had realized and this person had been against me for months and had actively tried to sabotage me in a very underhand and uncomfortable way. Toes. Feet. Ankles. Knees. Thighs. Belly. Heartbeat. Throat. Tongue smashing against teeth. But I kept my lips firmly shut. I realized the network ran deeper and it was my word against theirs. Aside from the people that truly love and know you, nobody cares for the just version of the story. They want the gossip. So let them have it.

In the end actions speak so much louder than words. I have realized I don’t need to use my voice to tell people that you are wrong and I am right. This is not a campaign trail I care to be on. My energy is better spent on bettering myself and my situation.  I will let our actions do the talking.  

When Phoebe pulled my tarot cards for the year, my ruling card for the month of March was Justice. Call it a talking point, call it indicative or call it preemptive. Call it nonsense…call it venom. Call it what you want. But here, on the last day of March, I am feeling comfortable with my relationship with justice. I have kept my lips pressed and I have plugged on. There is only one horse in my race and that is me. My eyes remain on my prize and justice has been rewarding me for my hard work.

What will become of you, the game players and the speakers of non truths? We will see. I hope you feel comfortable with your relationship with justice. The universe is powerful, and justice always prevails.  To quote Beyoncé, if I may: “Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper.”  Mm…hmm.

 

The Moon Part II & You

78AD9F36-ECCD-429B-B531-643460F09015The Moon Part II. And You.

There was a Full Moon in the middle of this week and it felt good. My favourite way to see the moon is the first few moments of dusk, when the sun is setting and the moon is rising. Day and night held together in one sentence. 

On Tuesday night we walked out of a pub hand in hand. It was the first day of Spring  and you bought me flowers. I looked up and saw the Full Moon shining pale but determined over the  city, which was glittering back the reflected orange light of the sunset. You know I love the moon. A few months back you bought me a necklace that reminded you of the moon and tonight you bought me yellow tulips because they reminded you of me. And as the first days of Spring begin, after a year of icy cold winter, I feel myself warming up to you. 

December 31st 2017. New Year’s Eve. The night before the Full Moon. It was frigid. It was so cold that I didn’t want to go out and face the night,  but it was New Year and you were going to be there. I hadn’t seen you since I got back from my ill-fated trip to California. What it was about you, I didn’t really know yet but when I hugged you that night it became clearer. At parties I’ve always known where you are in a room. It had always been that way, I just didn’t think too much about what it meant  but that night, in the muddle of the New Year crowd, I could feel you out with my eyes closed. Will was there too. We were hanging on by a thread and your edges were sharp. 

I’m not a shining example of how to act. Not for that last month anyway. I curl into a ball and grind my teeth at night when I think about some of the ways I handled things then. When the midnight moment came I spent it with Ruth, who above all is my greatest love in all rooms, but also I felt so deeply that I couldn’t kiss my broken down boyfriend in front of you. I didn’t want you to witness a moment that wasn’t real. That, and I’ve always had my own New Year superstitions. I’d rather not be by the side of someone I know deep down wont be around for much longer and  on that night, I knew that was Will. 

You eyes met mine at midnight. Green on dark green. Muddy waters. We were in trouble. 

Later you and I took a Polaroid picture. Smiles and a ridiculous party horn. You still carry the picture in your wallet. You kept it better than you kept me last year. It still looks the same as the night the image appeared from the camera, but I certainly don’t.

The next New Year you were in the room too and again I knew exactly where, but I spent the night avoiding your eyes for fear of how deeply they might cut me. Muddy water is better than bloody water and I had had enough. 

But that night, that day, the first few hours of 2018, the three of us shared an Uber home. We all sat together in the back, me in the middle, my broken down boyfriend on one side and you on the other. Our knees touched and neither of us moved them away. What was I doing? What was was this sad sitcom. When I got out of the car, the moon was shining cold, clear and judgemental. Ever the voyeur to my drama. 

January 1st 2018. The first Full Moon. The last Full Moon.

A week later, The Moon was waning, slipping just like me. It was my 29th birthday and I had a space themed party. You came dressed as a Moon Man. Of course you did.  Whatever that is. At that point I had to admit it to myself and to Will. Within a week it was over for good. He left for England on a moonless night and I cried in our dark house for days, knowing that MY days were numbered. I started gathering boxes. 

The Moon shon bright the night we kissed but shouldn’t have. We couldn’t stop it. It hadn’t quite finished setting the next morning when I took a brisk walk by the lake. Little pale moon in a cold blue sky. It has always been there watching and judging and pulling and pushing. It offers no advice, but reflects back what I already know to be true.

A week later and Will and I did a grand switcheroo in England. I arrived as he left. We met at Liverpool Street Station and cried over a Whetherpoons burger and chips. It had come to this. Salty salads and real ale. We only had an hour until he had to go. Toronto to London. London to Toronto.  The cities so involved in the making and breaking. It was only right they were both involved at the very end. 

There were no Full Moons to greet me in my motherland. A process of waning and waxing for three weeks, just like I needed. When I got back though… well, you already know I moved into my new home under the light of a Full Moon. Somehow it’s always there. Through the big decisions and the landmark moments reminding me there is always something bigger than me. 

I remember each of the moons in 2018. The second March moon, the second Blue Moon of the year, was a little light of encouragement after one of the most difficult yet liberating months of my life. I looked to April’s Pink Moon for help on an outdoor step in Orlando, Florida. A hot tight throat and a gin and tonic in my hand. Cheers to you, Moon, your constant ebb and flow reassured me.

I smoked a cigarette on the curb outside my house under May’s Flower Moon. I hated you then, but by June I was drinking beer on your porch and thinking this was it. You came and went like a lunar cycle last year. I expected it of The Moon but each time it came from you I was surprised.  I didn’t think I would be able to forgive you. 

Phoebe, Caroline and I formed a bond over our love of The Moon. They could feel it too and we’d toast to it and smile. Last night I bought them both a moon stone. A little reminder of our connection and a reminder that there is something else bigger than us out there.  One cold winter night Phoebe bought me a deck of tarot cards. A surprise as we sat at a bar drinking cocktails. They have to come to you, so they say. I firmly believe that you should believe what you want, so if I’ve lost you here then that’s cool, but know one of the cards I pull most often is The Moon. It seems as drawn to me as I am it. 

I stood defiant in New York City in a yellow coat and black boots two nights before December’s Cold Moon. By this point I was alone but determined, determined that the last moon of the year would be the last that presided over this mess. I was going to sort my shit out. There was no reason not to. The cusp of 2019. The cusp of 30. The entire universe beyond our little satellite was telling me to step up, it was screaming it at me, and so I did. 

The Moon shon wild and bright the night I arrived back in England for the second time that year. This time after an unplanned journey through Budapest. What a 24 hours they had been. What a 365 days these has been. We had almost done a full rotation and the circle I had been drawing around my broken heart was almost complete too. I was almost healed. It turns out I had to be rid of the both of you to figure out who I was at the centre of it all. I was beginning to really like me.

You came back and I didn’t want to let you. I held up my hand and said “no”.  I had learned my lesson. No more waxing and waning. No more knees touching in cabs. Just me. At  my brightest. I didn’t want to forgive you, but one night I took a walk through a snowy park and The Moon was so sneaky looking, like a caricature. A perfect slice. You sent me a message to tell me to look up, so I did and I realized for the first time you were looking up too. Perhaps you also needed to draw your own circle.

So Tuesday night. You and I. Hand in hand. The Moon. Spring winds. A change of tides. Tulips. A new beginning.  I think I’m ready now. The next full moon comes on Good Friday. Over to you. 

I Am A Badass, And Please Don’t Forget It

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Hey. So you’ve been reading these for a while and I think at this point I ought to make something clear. This isn’t a story about how sad I am. This isn’t even a story about how lost I am, or was. It is true that throughout these tales I have been both lost and sad. Truly, truly sad and at times very lost. But do not think for one second I have ever given up hope or thought that any of it was too much for me to bear, because it hasn’t been. This is a story about survival. This is a story about success. This is a story about living my best life despite the shit raining down on me from the ceiling fan.
The thing about me that I want you to know, the thing about me that I need you to know is that deep down at my very core, I am a badass. I am a true badass. I am a badass for the ages. Strength of character is all I’ve ever had. All we have had. And it turns out that that is all we have ever needed.

I come from a line of badasses. We’re a dynasty. It’s in our blood. It comes from my mums side. You see, she is a badass too. So is my sister. She is probably the most badass of them all. My mum got dealt a shitty hand. She, for all intent and purpose, lost her husband before her 40th birthday. Except he didn’t die, he was brutally injured and not only did she have to deal with that, she also has to raise two young children on her own. And raise us she did. Expertly. My sister is 32, she has two amazing young children and is a senior manager in a very good company. She isn’t afraid to ask for what she is worth. And if she doesn’t get it, she isn’t afraid to ask again.  She travels the world when her job requires and she is still there to pick her son and daughter up from nursery and read them books before they go to bed. She fights for women’s rights in the workplace and she has come out to Canada to drink cocktails and eat brunch with me because she wants to. Because she can. There is nothing in the world that could stop Julia. Trust me.
And me? Oh, I’m formidable too. Don’t get me wrong, I like smiling and being kind, I like making cards for my friends and baking cakes for birthdays and being the person that always buys the balloons. I like being calm and I like long walks. I cry at Rom Coms and bite my lip when I stub my toe…sometimes I cry because everything gets a bit too much…but make no mistake. Beneath my soft and sometimes anxious and awkward exterior roars the soul of a lion that is absolutely done with your shit. In one move, I’ll be ready to rally. I always have been and I always will be.
I survived a car accident, I was teased for the way I looked and acted at school, my childhood was a bit of a mess but I got through it. I studied and I got the grades. I went to university. I got a First Class Honours degree. I managed to find a job that served me in London, it was hard but I made it work. I saved my money, I moved across an ocean, I settled in a new city. Again, it was hard, but I made it work. I found two jobs, I made ends meet, I pushed and I pushed. I wrote for free, I took what I could. I built up what I had. It was hard. But I made it work. When the time came, I asked for more because I felt like I earned at and deserved it. I didn’t always get it, but that didn’t stop me trying again and finding ways to get it for myself. I broke up with my boyfriend, who moved here with me. I was afraid. I had to move out. I found my own home. I now live alone and I actually like it. It was hard. But. I. Made. It. Work.
I’ve never known what it is like to be rich. Perhaps I never will. But I know what it is like to make my own fortune and my own abundance. I work for my paycheques and when I am done with my 9-5, I work some more. Everything I have in my home and in my life I have worked for. It isn’t much, but it’s everything I need and that feels really nice.
What did I take from everyone else? The only thing I would ever accept. Love. They say it takes a village and I think they are right. Being a badass is easy when somebody loves you. I don’t think being a badass means going it alone. I think it means moving forward knowing it isn’t just you holding the sword. The more people that love you and you love back means the more people ready then join you in battle when times get hard. I think having an open heart is very brave indeed, although it has never been a choice for me, instead, a reflex I can’t control.
England, Germany, France, Canada… we little warriors have spread far. It makes me happy in some ways to know I have people in so many places. I think of them sometimes, half way across the world fighting their own fights, but never alone. We’re a network of badasses. My friends are fierce. And although we know there are some fights we have to mainly get through solo, we’re there for each other. I’m on the other side of the phone. Just give me a call and I’ll pack my bloody shield. Lol. I have no idea at what point this blogpost turned into medieval warfare but…I don’t know, I think I’m here for it. I’m here for them.
I am a badass.
For now, remember.  You won’t crush me. You will spur me on.  My spirit is strong. I will work with you but never for you. You do not own me and you never will. I am agreeable but not subservient. I might cry but that doesn’t mean I am weak. On the contrary.  I know there are good times and there are bad. I know the battle is never really over  but I do know I will always be okay, even if that okay doesn’t look the way I imagined it to. Why? Because I am me. And me has got this. I am badass. And please don’t forget it.

Those Who Go / Those Who Stay

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I walked the halls of the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan alone. I was alone for the whole trip. By choice but also very much in practice. I was jogged from my thoughts as I saw them. I had no idea they were here. Three paintings that had struck a chord with me nine years ago. I remember the day I first laid eyes on them in a book in a lecture at the aggressively trendy art school I attended in South East London. Goldsmiths. That is a whole different chapter, filled with the iron clasp of skinny jeans, activism and men with haircuts reminiscent of birds of paradise. I’ll save those stories for another day. 

States of Mind: The Farewells, Those Who Go and Those Who Stay. Umberto Boccioni. An Italian Futurist who died after falling off a horse in 1916 age 33. He painted a series of three images in 1911, which were eerily preemptive of the mass divide that was about to strike Europe in 1914; the onset of World War I. While the first painting in the series is moving, it is the final two that have always rung around the passages of my brain. Those Who Go. Those Who Stay. Two sides of a coin. Both defined by one another, but can never exist as one.  

At 19 I felt a strong connection to these two pieces, despite only having had the smallest taste of “going”. I was only 60 miles away from home back then. An hour on a train. It pales in comparison to the 3,537 miles I live with today.  Yet I think that part of me knew, even then, that I would one day be away. Of the two camps, “Those Who Go” and “Those Who Stay”, I knew and have always known that I am going. That is the thing about me. I’m always going. I can’t stop. I can’t sit still. The going in me led me, after learning about futurism and modern art for the first time, to board a train to Paris to see it all for myself. The Pompidou. It was quite the adventure. 

I have never been one to miss out on an adventure. Never. Its not like I’ve ever had any money but I’ll always make it work. I HAVE to go. I have to see. I cant miss out.  

Yet…there has always been something that has drawn me to “Those Who Stay”. I cant say that I know too well what it’s like to stay, but I know that the scene depicted  by Boccinio was the real price of my departure ticket. The thing about going is that it also means leaving. I’ve never been under any impression that life stands still without me there. The place and the people I have left behind continue on their path. It’s just…in all my going I can still feel them. And sadness, and regret, and love and loss that I can’t be with them and be somewhere new at the same time. And I know that they feel me too. They feel me somewhere unplaceable deep inside as they continue their lives knowing that it is their choice to be where they are and that it was my choice to leave them there. As I, alone, came face to face with Umberto Boccioni’s paintings at the Museum of Modern Art I also came face to face with my own deepest conflict and sadness.  

Those Who Go. Those Who Stay. 

I was going again to see the people who stayed. I had a plane ticket back to England for Christmas. Being of the “Go” camp, I hadn’t had a December in the UK for four years. Whatever the season, I’m always filled with the Go/Stay conflict when I fly back to the UK. Those who go will know what I mean when I say this…returning home is utterly bizarre. Flying over England, seeing it from the sky makes me feel something very deeply. Something like placing Boccioni’s paintings on top of one another in a few suspended moments of reality where “Those Who Go” and “Those Who Stay” can live together side by side again.  Stay. Go. Stay. Go. Return. Stay. Return. Go. This is never more poignant than at the airport. It doesn’t matter whether you are one who goes or one who stays at this point, because we’re both sad. We are both defined by the other.

That’s the entropy of life though, isn’t it?  We can’t all go and we can’t all stay, if not nothing would ever change. And change is the very crux of all life and everything, if you really think about it. 

Ha. Spoken like a true goer. 

My sister sent me a parcel. A gift passed along from one who stayed to one who left. It was a beautiful book. Not so ironically it was “Oh, The Places You Will Go” by Dr Seuss. She reads it to my niece and nephew and I read it to myself and for one moment it doesn’t matter who stays and who goes because we are all sharing something and I like that. 

I think about the whole cycle some more. Staying and going. Despite being one that goes, a lot of things have stayed for me. My family are still there, and I am still here and we know we will be in the same space again … at some point. Love transcends geography. It doesn’t have a coordinate. If we all knew where to look for it, then it wouldn’t be so hard to find.

My best friend stayed by going…or coming…here, but in doing so started her own cycle of going and staying. In many ways I have stayed the same person. The reason I have always been a person that goes is because it has felt right not to stay. I stay as long as staying feels good and then I go when going calls me. And it does so, often. 

I think I’ll know when I get there. I hope so anyway. Or am I destined to never settle? 

On Tuesday you are going and on Tuesday I am staying. This is the right thing for you, but fuck does it feel weird to be one that stays.  For once. 

For now, I await the call with bated breath. Again.

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One

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It has  been one year.  One year since the day that started in England and ended in Toronto, Canada. One year since I woke up in a hotel room in a gigantic shared bed with my sister and fell asleep alone on a mattress in the middle of an empty room in a place I didn’t know. It was the only furniture I had.

I found the apartment a little under a month before. Will and I had broken up and he had left the country for a few weeks leaving me to get myself out. Pack it all up and leave. We had lived together for almost four years, and over two in the basement under a Starbucks on a busy Toronto street. Our first home together was over 3,000 miles away. A studio apartment in an only slightly dodgy area of London. It had a wall that separated a bedroom the size of a Queen mattress from a kitchen and living room with no space for an oven or a table. The London real estate dream. 

Our Toronto apartment, albeit dark, was much bigger. I loved it because it was where we had made our home, but I missed the light. This time I wanted light. I was a seedling ready to grow and I needed it. 

I was making one of the scariest decisions of my life, ending a six year relationship at the age of 29 and going it alone, so it seemed important to me to live alone too. I was sad. I was worse than sad. I couldn’t deal with having to fake a smile over my cornflakes in a shared apartment with people I didn’t know, knowing full well they had heard me screeching and crying into my pillow the night before. “Yep, I’m great thanks Jenny, how are you? Amazing. Have a good day at work! Ha, yeah, see you later !” End scene. 

The small talk. The sterility. No. I had to get through this alone. 

You had gone and I had planned to take up your spot in England when you got back. A cross over. Five and a bit weeks without seeing each other. Time. Space. But I knew I had little time to find my own space so I spent a cold Saturday traversing the West End of the city looking for a place to call my own. With a heavy heart and a painfully light bank balance, I was prepared to settle. But then I found my new home.  

It was still a basement, but it’s only half sunken and the bedroom has a huge window looking out into street. Light. I’ve spent Saturdays and Sundays laying in bed reading in the light and thanking my lucky stars to be alive and in the sunshine. There is also a little living room for entertaining around the corner from a small kitchen and a dining space as well as a little bathroom with a bath and shower. Perfect for just me, and just me was going to be perfect, wasn’t it? I’ve always had hope. 

It was more than I could afford, it still is, but the sacrifice for my own space seemed worth it. I’m lucky that I review restaurants as one of my many invaluable side hustles so I assumed I would just about still be able to eat and live and laugh, even though at that point in February 2018 laughter seemed as distant to me as Jupiter. 

So I got it. I had a move in date. A move in date that coincided with my return date to Toronto. What now?  Momentum has always been something I am excellent at summoning up but I find the bit afterwards, after the propulsion, after the flinging, after the landing…the bit when it’s over and you have to sit still…that bit…that is the bit I find difficult. My mum always says I can’t sit still. She is right. 

I had been in England escaping my problems and crying into different pillows for over three weeks and it was time to come home, time to move out and time to move in. And time to move on. All in one day. 

My last night in London was a grand affair. We had been celebrating my mum’s 60th Birthday with a trip to the capital. We had been on a pilgrimage up The Shard. We drank a glass of champagne in a white out as snow fell over the skyline. 3000 miles for more snow. When the clouds finally shifted the view was breathtaking. It’s a hard feeling to describe.  Looking over your old city, a place you lived for 8 years but is now mythical to you except in the one or two days a year you see it in the flesh… It’s a feeling that to me moves from the legs, to the gut, to the fingers. Make of that what you will. 

We had had a three course dinner and had been to see the Lion King on stage.  When it was over, Julia and I climbed into our shared hotel bed like we were kids again and giggled until we fell asleep. But the next morning came and I had to go. Fuck. Please not yet. 

We had breakfast at a Wetherspoons in Gatwick airport and mum tried not to seem too concerned that my day was going to involve a 8hour flight, a final goodbye with my ex boyfriend and a night alone in a new house. Her performance was unconvincing. “Do you have to do this all in one day, Bex? Couldn’t you stay with Ruth tonight.” I could but I wouldn’t. Momentum, remember. I was full speed out the final chapter and into my new book that I hadn’t thought too much about what that new first page would feel like. 

God I hate the security gate. The point of no return. I had never cried in front of them when leaving before. I’d always saved it for a private moment in the toilets but on this day I wept. Despite all my best momentum I knew deep down I didn’t want to go. My family, the people I love stood here in front of me in England, in safety and security, and my life lay in tatters in Canada. Why would I want to go back? But I had to and my time was up and I wiped my eyes and I got through it. Just. I was that girl crying shoeless at the security conveyer belt. “MISS, coat OFF please.” 

Okay, just give me a break. 

I was still crying when I had my shoes back on and my bag rezipped. Ugly crying, no less. This had to stop. I checked the last of my UK bank balance. £18.50. That would do. I found the champagne bar. The one only 50 year old business men drink at, the one with oysters on the counter and drinks placed on napkins. With all the grace I could muster, I sat down on a high stool. I was the only woman in sight. I ordered a £14 glass of pink Möet. Cheers to me. Cheers to this shit show. Cheers to the end and the beginning all in one day. Cheers to facing up to the chaos. Cheers to 3000 miles and no sleep and no legroom and big cases and…..after a while I had run out of things to cheers so just watched the bubbles rise and fall to try and distract myself from the pit growing in my chest. My flight was boarding so I downed the last gulp. Cheers to time being up. Cheers to the moment being now. Cheers to movement. Cheers to momentum. 

It’s weird, the only thing I remember about the flight was the take off and the landing. The middle is a jumble of phone notes and action plans. The beginning and the end were calm, though. The aerial views of my two different homes. One ebbing away for yet another day, and the other coming into view and settling back into reality. Toronto feels like my home now. As the plane landed with barely a bump, I knew I had to get back to it. 

Bus, subway, bus. One day I’ll be rich I’m sure but for now, inconvenient travel is the only way I do it. The stretch between my house, my old house, and the bus stop was eternal and tragic. I didn’t even need to put my keys into the lock, you heard me coming and opened the door. I’ll never forget the smell of that home, or of you in it. We’d seen each other for one hour at London Liverpool Street Station in our cross over and here you were opening the door to our home for me for the last time, biting your lip the way you do. 

Things had changed inside. All of the things I had packed three weeks before were now neatly stacked in a corner. You had bought a new sofa and some houseplants and a rug. You offered me a cup of tea. We drank together in tears. 

You left because you said you couldn’t watch. I couldn’t either. Ruth came and together we took my cases to my empty new home. It was late. It had been a long day. She helped me unbox my new mattress and made my bed up for me. A mattress and a lamp. That was all I had that first night. 

There is so much to be said about the next day, the next week, the next few months and I am sure I’ll get to saying it. Not least because the next day was when I had to see you, the other you, again. Our relationship was something else. A storm waiting to rage I guess? 

My friends helped me unpack and build my new furniture. We ate pizza on plates made of Ikea instructions. When I had a table I started to invite people round. At Easter I held a lunch for 16 people and as the months went on this house has seen so much laughter and joy and love. I may be the sole resident but my visitors have been constant and welcome. We’ve sat outside in the sun, we’ve watched movies on my bed, we’ve drank cocktails in my lounge. I’ve had parties, I’ve spilled drinks, I’ve broken plates. I’ve lived. Here. 

Sometimes I get home after a few drinks and I feel the warmth of my house as I open the door. Like actually coming from the walls. I know that it may sound absolutely insane but I actually think that my house LOVES me as much as I love it. I feel happy and safe here, when on that first night I wasn’t sure if those were things I would feel again. 

Yes, I’ve had sad times too. I’ve cried in just about every spot there is to cry in. I’ve cried in my shower the most. On New Years Day I cried on the floor of the kitchen while holding a mop in one hand and my face in the other. It isn’t always easy. But it always gets better. And living here has seen me be better and do better. 

Tonight I am holding a dinner party for those who have been on the front line for me this year. The people who have helped me build my furniture, scrabbled together miss-matching chairs so we can all eat together at my table, the people who have all involuntarily shouted “oooh” as we popped another bottle of Prosecco. I want to thank them and these four walls for being here. Thank you friends, and thank you house. Happy one year anniversary! 

San Francisco

74F6AE08-E828-48F8-B0BB-A6A29DD93BDDSan Francisco. The moment we knew.

I had always wanted to go to San Francisco. A city that somehow manages to incorporate hustle and bustle with beautiful sweeping landscapes. Sealions, Sunshine, China Town, trams, hills, Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, The Golden Gate Bridge. I wanted to see it all. I did. But that isn’t what I remember most from the trip.  I remember the look on your face when I said the words I couldn’t take back. 

Just…pause for a second. I want you to know that writing this doesn’t make me feel good. My blog is telling a story but the part of the story that we are getting to, the next month, the next year…it was me at my worst and it started pretty much right here. But it had to happen. We had to end. Even thinking about San Francisco makes my stomach tight and my heart hurt and I don’t know if you are reading this or now or if you ever will but I am sorry. I am sorry it came to be like this.

We arrived in San Francisco by lunchtime. A landslide had meant we had stayed in a motel the night before rather than arriving here as planned. An hour outside of the city we stopped at a lighthouse. It was beautiful. It was December but Northern California is mild and I stood with my coat unbuttoned watching the waves crash against the rocks, spraying salt water up the white washed walls. Oh, to live in a lighthouse and hear the waves crash for the rest of my life. 

We didn’t talk much, but that was okay.  We drove into the city. We parked the car. We walked by the Bridge. We spotted Alcatraz. I remember how bright the light was. And gold. It honestly seemed golden. I liked San Francisco. The vibe. A lot of people walking dogs, riding bikes and seeming genuinely happy. I would love to go back and join them. Especially with the happy part. 

We were meeting my friend Tim that night. Tim is 6ft 5 and change, a sassy gay male from my theatre days and a bad influence when it comes to swilling back about eight too many cocktails. I’m 5ft 2. I don’t know why I even try and keep up with him as Tim has always and will always drunk me under the table. 

The year before we had all met up in Chicago. It was a better time. Almost exactly a year ago. A lot can change. We drank martinis and listened to an incredible 16 piece jazz band playing Christmas tunes in a dive bar. The three of us, Will’s brother and a gang of friends we hadn’t seen for four years danced around the table singing God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.

Well that night in San Francisco wasn’t such a carefree jazz affair but we did have plans for dinner and drinks, followed by more drinks, followed by more. 

Now, here is where I struggle to give this any narrative context…because really I have none. Things had been bad with Will but I’d assumed they’d get better. It was only 11 days since the car crash in Tucson when I realized they probably wouldn’t but I thought I had time. I am sorry, I thought we would have time. But our time was up in that very second. Yes, things had been bad but in that moment they were fine. We were drunk and relaxed and in a cocktail bar with Tim. We had taken pictures and laughed and ordered more brandy. But, from nowhere, the words came out of my mouth, so matter of fact and I couldn’t stop them. “We aren’t going to be together next year are we.” We weren’t. 

“We aren’t going to be together next year, are we?” ……….So blunt. So clinical. It was like stating tomorrow was going to be rainy or that I needed to pick up some bread on my way home from work. No inflection. No drama. Except of course, there was. But I just knew. Tim was going to be back from the loo at any second and I’d taken you off guard. You didn’t know what to say. You were shocked. I’m sure you saw it coming, but like me you thought we would have time. A few more laps. Twice round the merry-go-round. Once more, with feeling.  Nope. This ride has reached an abrupt end. 

Tim came back. The tension. The embarrassment. What is wrong with me? Why there?  We left and went back to our apartment. I passed out in my clothes in the bed. You slept on the sofa in a ball.

The first few seconds when you wake up are the best and worst. You’re cosy and warm and for a moment everything is okay. But then. The thud. The sinking feeling. The pain, all the worse in its return. Will. I called out to you. What the fuck had I done. 

Did you mean it? You asked me. I said I didn’t know. We knew I did. My heart was in my chest and my eyes were red holding back tears. The stress overcame me. I ran to the toilet and threw up a quart of brandy and what was left of my dinner. 

We talked more. I was sick again. I had a shower. I threw up in the bath. I looked at myself in the mirror and knew, I KNEW this was the last time I would see this person staring back at me. Everything was about to change. I threw up in the sink. 

It hurts to remember how worried you were about me. You went out and bought some bread for breakfast. I couldn’t eat it. We had to check out of the apartment and into a cheap hotel across the road for the night before our flight. I shakily made the ten minute walk and you carried my case. When we reached our room on the fifth floor I drank a can of coke and had to rush to the communal toilets ten minutes later. It was just liquid at this point. 

We agreed it was a mistake. We agreed to try. We said when we got back home we would try harder. We would be better. We didn’t want this. I was so shocked and sad and drained that I clung on to you extra tight. After five hours of vomiting I made a recovery. We went for a walk and I clasped your arm. I always held on to your arm. I did not want to let go. 

We walked by the ocean and we looked at the sea lions. Ironically it was one of the nicest afternoons we had had in months. The air was clearer somehow. Admitting there was a problem was the first step to fixing it. We would get back and it would all be okay. We were kidding ourselves, but I felt so good to pretend.

You put your head in my lap on the flight hope and I stroked your hair with an emptiness in my gut. When we landed, we took the subway home. There was a train waiting on the platform. The whistle was blowing and you dashed on. The doors shut in my face.  We looked at each other through the glass as the carriage pulled forward. And then you were gone. I stood on the platform alone. 

Oh, Fuck…

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They say when one door closes another one opens. That may be true, but it is also fucking inconvenient sometimes. 

November 2017.  You’re back. I wasn’t sure if you were coming. You had been gone for three weeks and I was nervous I wouldn’t see you again. Mainly because you were my friend but also a little bit because of something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on…or I could but I wasn’t ready to consider it.

Things were okay with me after you left. I say “okay”….. “okay” to me means surving but not thriving. The only person I told about my findings on Will’s phone was Ruth. And even then it was in passing over a few wines and statements of “I’m not the jealous type”, “I’m sure it’s nothing”, and “it’s been six years, I trust him.” I was downplaying a sadness that had been bubbling in a tiny but boisterous whirlpool at the pit of my chest since August. 

I’ve never had feelings for someone else while I have been happy in a relationship. For sure I have found people “attractive” and encouraged my single friends to “go for it” with mutually agreed upon passing hotties. Twit twooo. I’ve even had day or weeklong crushes, but that always passed when I got to know them and discovered the reality of that human was nothing compared to the reality of my loving relationship. Every imagined future with them was nothing compared to tea and crumpets in bed on a Sunday morning, playing I Spy out the window with the person I knew I loved. Even out of a relationship, it has always seemed to be true that while I hold a candle for one person, all my energy, my fire, is for them.  Nobody else gets a look in.

I realize now the on the day I found the messages after the disaster camping trip a door closed inside me. The flame was blown out. I just didn’t know it. 

You’d always been my friend. I can’t say I never thought you were attractive, but it was never a problem. You had a girlfriend. I had a boyfriend. They long predated us. I liked her. You liked him. We would hang out, drink beer, laugh. You’ve always been very funny.  The thing is though, now I think about it, I’ve always had this strange ability to know exactly where you are in a room. I’ve always been lit up by your presence. I’ve always been sad when you have gone home because it always signified the end of the party. You’d always stay to the end. 

In October your world came crashing down. I had no idea you were unhappy too. We didn’t talk about it. And then suddenly It was all very dramatic. You text me asking if you could come and stay with us and I didn’t ask any questions I just said yes. I know I felt something strange inside though. I knew before you told me that you must have broken up and I was sad for you… and for her because like I said, I really did like her. But another feeling too. Like someone had just plucked a string and walked away. A note vibrating for longer than it should. 

You came and you went. You stayed two nights then got on a plane. The first night I made spaghetti and then we sat outside and drank whisky and talked it through. The next night I walked you to the bus that would take you to the airport and I told you I was scared you weren’t going to come back. You promised you would and I hugged you twice. You disappeared and I breathed a sigh of relief. You were gone. Back to England. From whence you came. A few weeks apart and I’ll have talked myself out of you.

But then you came back. It was a few days until I saw you. And then I did. And then I knew was in trouble. Real trouble. I had spent two weeks ignoring it. Blissfully ignoring it. But there you were and I knew before I even hugged you.  The string was still vibrating. Something had cosmically shifted and you were standing there in front of me, an open door.   Oh, Fuck.

TBC. 

 

 

Valentine’s Day 1996 – 2019

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I was seven years old when I sent my first Valentines card. It was to myself.

What kind of fucked up school encourages kids to send Valentines cards anyway? They put up a special red post box a week before the “big day”, then handed out the cards during registration. From that moment on I was convinced that the whole song and dance was just another way to shame people for being lonely. At seven I realized I was undesirable. Validation through popularity…was this what school was all about?  Spoiler alert: yes.

So, young as I was, I was clever enough to opt out of the shame game and send a card to myself. Thank you me. I feel like I’ve always had my back.

The next Valentines card I remember writing was when I was 11. Same school, but a few different faces. Alice and Kylie, two new girls who had the good fortune to prematurely grow tits, were the chosen ones, the desirables. I didn’t think I was going to get any real cards but by this point I’d entered into a pact with my closest gaggle of girl friends; we’d send them to each other. So there. But this year there was a boy. His name was Josh May and he wore a Pokémon t-shit and had gelled, crisp, spiky hair. Little turrets of status. The outside of the card had dancing hearts listening to a stereo on it and on the inside I wrote the lyrics to Mel C and Bryan Adams’ Baby When You’re Gone. He thew it in the bin.

Things just feel so wrong. Yeah, baby when you’re gone.

When I started secondary school, Valentines cards were a strict army mission that required strategic planning and negotiation. Ashley Baker and I agreed to send each other one, not out of romantic interest, but to avoid the shame of being left out. Some utter twats would strut the Science Block corridors yielding a mass of red balloons in one arm and their best squealing gal pal on the other, looking on adoringly, of course. I get it. You’re popular. You’re hot. You cloud the changing rooms after P.E with plumes of Charlie Red, your mum let you have highlights and you actually seem to know what you are doing with eyeliner. I could only marvel.  Although my popularity daydreams were rudely disturbed when I was bopped in the face by six stray balloons from a passing globular deity.

I’ve always been awkward. That doesn’t really change over time.

Last year my mum bought me a Valentine’ card. She signed it from Bracken the dog. My sister got me one too, signed by my niece and nephew. I love them so much. I could have cried. Although I think it is important to note that I didn’t. I was back in England for nearly a month recovering from my break up with Will and that just so happened to coincide with my first single Valentine’s Day in six years…not that when we were together he made a big deal of it…except for the first year.

Valentine’s Day 2012.  The first one in which I knew him. We had literally just met. I was 23 and still occasionally falling asleep wearing my shoes. Our student days were over and my friends and I were kind of living in a post university, pre adult life bubble where we were all working shit jobs but throwing dinner parties at the weekend with desserts made in martini glasses because we thought that is what real adults did. I’d known him just over two weeks and so we (dramatically) were not spending Valentine’s Day together. I was having dinner at one of the gentrified pubs in New Cross with my flatmates instead…but Will…he liked me. Weird awkward me. He had hand made me a card…a beautiful card using a scalpel and peacock feathers. He gave it to my scariest room mate at one of our dinner parties. The whole crew had scrutinized the poor boy but agreed to leave the card outside my bedroom door on February 14th. I think that was the first time anybody had ever MADE me anything. My uni boyfriend Nick was good as gold, of course, and twice supplied a bunch of roses from Tesco Express. At 19 THAT was romance.  That and a bottle of on the turn rosé from the corner shop…and maybe a Kinder Bueno. But Will…he had sat for hours and made me something and I was touched.  The fact that he cared enough to create something made me think that perhaps he could be my boyfriend after all.

That was the first and last hand made Valentine’s card I got from him. I don’t think we even celebrated the day in our last year together. That’s sometimes the thing isn’t it. People make a lot of effort when they don’t have you, but when they do…they forget how much it means that you are there. I hope neither of us makes that mistake again.

So there I was. Opening up a Valentines Card and a chocolate heart from my mum. 29 and newly single.

My mum has always been a good Valentine’s sport. She was the one who funded the ill fated card to Josh May and picked up the strategy pack for friends and associates.  She didn’t ask too many questions and I appreciated it. When I was 13, she sent my sister and I off to school with a Valentines card in our lunchboxes. I opened it up to see she had bought us tickets to see Craig David play live on stage. I screamed in delight. Craig. I loved him from afar…although not as much as Julia. I let her have him.

When the crowd say “Bo”, selecccccta.

Not wanting to spend the night in with my mum and my stepdad, I made plans to hang out with a friend last Valentines Day. I still have a lot of friends back home and she was single too so it seemed as good a time as any to get pissed on Prosecco and  eat some gourmet M&S macarons. Fuck I miss M&S. Maybe I’ll write them a valentines card one day….although I did see they’re peddling some love sausage abomination these days that I’d rather disassociate myself with. That’s the problem, isn’t it. People change. Major food brands change.

A year on and I am in a much better place. Last week I went to a very weird Valentine’s theme car event where I ended up getting “matched” to a KIA whilst swilling back my third cocktail and trying to keep a straight face as the valiant marketing team tried to sell me the damn thing like I might have more than $308.59 in my bank account. Love. What a good opportunity for an up sell.

Valentines Day. I’ve had good days and I have had bad. I’ve been on top and I’ve been rejected. I’ve laughed and I have cried…which to me makes it just like any other day of the year. My point being, don’t worry. Don’t worry if you’re alone this year. It’s not a big deal either way. Your time will come around, because that’s life. And this is just another one of the days in your life.

As it so happens,  this year I do actually have a Valentines date and I want to admit that I am looking forward to it. Not because it’s Valentine’s Day, I honestly couldn’t give a fuck, but because I’m spending the evening with someone I think that I might be excited about…. And those butterflies…the fresh air of change…that is something you cant buy. There is no day for that. It just has to find you. And so you wait. But know this; in my experience it always comes. Eventually. And when it does, you won’t care at all that Josh May ripped up your letter and that your last few cards were from your mum and your family dog. I promise. Until then. Chin up…there’s always the M&S Love Sausage….

Ice Fishing and Snowmageddon

8E4D2432-6254-4F26-9C48-E011BB939FAEI took Monday off work to go ice fishing. Every year I have wanted to but I have never quite got round to it. Not this year though! I was determined! Ice fishing seems innately Canadian. Canadian’s don’t stay indoors during deep freezes; the winter is always savage as hell but they basically just get on with it. No, scrap that, they enjoy it! While temperatures of -5 c would practically shut down the UK, our Canadian buds are going for a rip on their snowmobiles at -25 then swigging a cold one outdoors in their snow suits. Good on them!

So, balls deep in my fourth Canadian winter, I had bought a fishing license and I found myself in the outdoor supply Mecca that is Canadian Tire browsing fake worms, ice fishing rods and stocking up on hand and toe warmers for the next day. Trust me, they said, I would need them! Ha! They weren’t wrong.

Setting off from the city at 6.45am and scoffing the obligatory Tim Horton’s on the way, we stepped out the car at the Georgina end of Lake Simcoe at 8.15, dressed in our arctic finest and yielding a bucket of minnow fish for bait. Holy………….fuck…….it was cold. Real temperature -21, but with windchill it was approaching -30! Ha! The coldest day I have experienced in m life and I was plodding out of the car ready to spend my day sat on ice. Who is this girl and what happened to her soft warm buttery British hot cross bun heart? It was still there. Just under 6 layers of thermals.

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The magic of walking on a deeply frozen lake is something we can never experience in the UK. It just isn’t cold enough. There is something so beautiful about a vast plain of ice and snow and uncomplicated views of a bright blue winter’s sky.

After less than ten minutes or trudging on ice, our equipment transported by sled, we set up our ice hut. The ice hut is basically a winter tent that surrounds your fishing holes and shelters you from the elements while you fish. We had the luxury of a heater in ours. It was…..GLORIOUS!

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Okay, let’s talk for a second about how the holes appear in the ice to fish through. That part is no magic…that is a MASSIVE drill! We are talking 10 inches of ice here; the Canadians don’t fuck around.

With our eyelashes frozen and our hut set up, we began our fish-venture! (I am actually cringing at myself in advance of any Canadian actually reading this…I sound like a total twat…but this just doesn’t happen in England, okay?!)
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The first thing that I absolutely have to mention is the COLOUR of the ice! With the tent surrounding it, it is a perfect turquoise! It is incredible! Also through your hole you can see straight to the bottom of the lake. Hello fish! I’m surprised you’re still swimming in -21 degrees!

Safely ensconced in our fishing chairs, my friend Hayley and I cracked a beer. 9am. No worries. Gone fishing!

BOOM! …eerrrrr what was that?! Oh? Just the ice cracking to make more ice. Ummmm. Scientifically it makes sense; as water freezes it expands so, as more freezes, there will be cracks that expand the ice plains…but, like, when you’re a ten minute walk from the shore that is a disconcerting sound!

Other than the sound of the ice, the only other disconcerting thing you need to worry about is your bladder. Beer n chill is all very well until you need to pee. Let me tell you, there is nothing quite as bracing as a -30 chill on your butt cheeks and nothing quite so sobering as watching your pee steam and freeze! Too much?! Well, I wanted this blog to sound like actual me…and actual me was greatly amused.  And cold. Definitely cold. Zip her back up!

Eating snacks, sipping beer, fishin’… suddenly I love winter! We only caught a small selection of “keepers” (Ontario fishing laws are pretty strict and often you have to throw them back) but we had a whale of a time reeling up and letting go! The ones we did keep we fried up in butter and peppercorns for lunch. I’m a pescatarian and will only eat fresh sustainable fish, and you can’t get more fresh and sustainable than a self caught Simcoe Perch!

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After four hours on the lake, the wind began picking up and we sensed in the air it was time to leave. We were right. A snow storm was coming…

As we drove down the 404 it was coming in thick and fast and it would have been scary had I not trusted Anthony, the Canadian behind the wheel and honestly the person I would best trust in any survival situation!

Back in Toronto, I made it home to 15 centimetres of snow blocking my front door and a snowy gale promising me even more. No matter. I popped in to drop my stuff and decided to do my weekly food shop as I had the time. I walked back out on foot in thick snow, amid a storm, in -15 temperatures and went about my day unphased. It was only when I got back an hour later and made a cup of tea that I laughed to myself. To anyone back home starting the day at -21, spending four hours on ice, walking through a snow storm carrying three shopping bags and digging my way into my house would sound like Armageddon. I started thinking of my day as a Daily Mail headline…ha! But really it was fine and I am fine. I am better than fine.  It struck me right there and then that what we consider intense or extreme is only a matter of perspective. Four years ago I would have told you I could never do it, I couldn’t survive like this. But I am surviving and thriving and learning to love something I would have considered an apocalyptic nightmare. Funny how we can change.

The next day I donned my wellies, my thermals, my gloves and my winter hat and a I laughed as I stomped through what was now around 40 centimetres of snow. To get to work. Today is minus 17. Could be worse (she says with a broad smile.)

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