Saturday, March 31, 2012

Things that keep me up at night ...

Sometimes I'm scared that my one shot at that head-over-heels, inseparable best friends kind of love was my heady, but doomed, relationship with my ex-husband.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

2012 can suck it ...

The phrase "2012 can suck it" has been an oft-repeated mantra among myself and my friends so far this year amid a string of breakups, shakeups, lost jobs, missed opportunities, illnesses large and small and a general feeling of discontent.

Personally, I've watched a good friend go through heartbreak. Dealt with some family illness (mercifully minor) and drama. The fallout of some recent deaths. Went through a breakup - and a re-breakup, when he thought we'd gotten back together - and been rejected professionally and romantically. Those last three, paired with a bout of bronchitis, all within a week-long window.

Based on all that, well, yes, 2012 CAN suck it.

But, luckily, hopefully, the year is still young. Because, while we say 2012 can suck it, we also keep saying "This will be our year." Because other years have sucked too. For me, unlike previous years, there have not been any last-minute cross-country flights for funerals. No ex-husband drama. In fact, my divorce is finally final (+1 for 2012 right there), and, after two years of feeling like I had to make up for lost time, tread water and learn to be single, I feel like I'm finally ready to move on with my life and have at least a loose idea of what I want, even if I'm not yet sure how to get there.

2012 is also the year when I learned to do my taxes on my own. Mastered my online health claims system. Went to Disney World, realizing a childhood dream.

And, if all goes well, it will also be the year when I sip champagne at the Eiffel Tower with my best friend. The year when my best friend (who I will freely admit a slightly unhealthy co-dependence, but 26 years of a habit is a hard one to break) will be back in the same province as me full time after three long years. The year I try, and hopefully complete, a full marathon. The year when I finally accept where I am, what I'm doing and maybe even put down roots in Toronto.

So, 2012, you're still on thin ice. But I'm still going to give you a chance. So it's time to step up your game, deal?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Moving forward, looking back

In the initial whirlwind post-divorce, you're stuck dealing with all kinds of messy situations - where to live, untangling your life, splitting your phone bill, who gets the blender, etc.

Once you get past that, you kind of figure you've got it all sorted. Sure, there's the occasional bump -- "My husband? Huh? Oh, no, we're not together anymore." Or "What do you mean I can't have my official divorce certificate yet?" -- but for the most part, you want to believe you have it all sorted out.

Until, of course, you have down time (like my vacation, which started mere hours ago). And options. And romantic possibilities. Since the split, I was careful. Sure, there were boys, but they weren't going to fall in love with me. We weren't looking for futures together. While I do now wonder what would have happened with two perfectly lovely gents had our timing been better, things were pretty simple. I was able to focus on myself, be totally selfish, and live like a single gal while still having a fella to kiss at midnight on NYE.

This time last year, I was involved with a perfectly lovely man. We were, in many ways, total opposites, but had good conversations and demanded very little of each other. It was easy. And, when it ended, I was sad, sure, but it was never a matter of if it would end, but when. We're still buds, and it's all good.

This year, I want to be loved. I want a chance at a future. (This is what happens when you attend the wedding of someone you grew up with. And get lectured by a priest about how you blew one of the most important moments in your life. Sending you deep into a couple of G&Ts, some uncomfortable comments from a dude you knew in high school and a teary phone call to one of your best dudes from a legion ladies' room.)

That desire is totally terrifying. Because as much as I want those things, I also lack that optimism that squeezed me into a white dress, sent me into a tizzy over flowers -- no, I don't want gradations of cream, I want purple -- and had me believing that yes, what I was doing was for forever.

People keep telling me I was lucky I got my "starter marriage" over with young. That it leaves me with time to find that truly lasting thing. That I haven't (despite what nosy neighbours may say) blown my chance at children and happiness and white picket fences (or at least, a couple of patio stones where I can sit with a trashy magazine on a sunny Sunday afternoon.)

These days, I have options. Career. Family. Romance. It's all, pretty much, wide open. As much as I want to do the romantic, throw caution to the wind thing and let it all blow up, if it must, I can't quite find the words to say what's on my mind or how I feel.

As I contemplate moving forward - Where? How? With whom? -- I also find myself looking back. Facing my many failures, and failings. Acknowledging where I went wrong and how I could have done better. Asking whether this is really it for me. And how I'll cope if it is, and my mother's fear that I'll die alone and get eaten by cats comes true (telling her I'm not a cat person didn't help. At all.).

But, as I evaluate my relationship with every man I've liked, loved and hated (sometimes all in the same day) perhaps the most terrifying part is that I can't identify what exactly I want. I used to have a clear two-year, five-year and 10-year plan. For everything. But these days, all I can say, definitively, is that whatever it is, I'm not there yet. And I hope I figure it out, if not find it, soon.

Monday, October 31, 2011

My quarter century year

My quarter century year has officially drawn to a close.

In my 25th year, I was determined to make up for lost time, and set new goals. I made friends. I worked, lots. I partied. I became a so-so athlete, and ran another half-marathon. I travelled solo and with friends, hitting familiar places such as Montreal and Nova Scotia and new destinations: Calgary, New York, Las Vegas. There were many, many firsts. I walked through Central Park holding a blue balloon, ate deep fried pickles in Queens, played the slots in Vegas and mocked the public art in Calgary. Closer to home, I ate a donut burger, rode a jet boat and finally took a chance on the Hippo tour bus. I dressed up as Supergirl in the middle of the summer, and managed to stop blushing, eventually, and even enjoy the spectacle as I wandered around in public in a blonde wig and no pants. I got my nose pierced because it was raining and the shop was across the street.  I said goodbye to a beloved grandmother. I reconnected with a high school friend, and mourned the loss of a childhood companion.

Through all this, I think I did grow up, a little. While still afraid to slow down -- a rolling stone gathers no moss, right? -- I've learned when I need to call it a night for my health and sanity. I've even been known to come home by midnight when it's not a school night, once or twice. And say no when I'm overwhelmed and exhausted.

That said, my 25th year also taught me just how much of a work in progress I still am. I still have trouble trusting people, especially men. Sometimes, I make bad calls and let myself get swept up and away. When stressed, or sad, I can be reckless. I buy too many shoes. I don't call home as often as I should. I'm going to work on these things.

My love life continues to somehow be both far too busy and neglected at the same time. I scare easily, and am much more comfortable with suitors I know won't fall for me or ask for a future. But while it's taken a year and a half, I'm starting to see value in commitment. Even if it is terrifying.

I'm no longer content with planning just a week or two, even a month or two, in advance - I want to envision where I'm going to be in five years. It's easier to deal with the bumps in the road when you know what you're working towards -- and while I don't know 100 per cent what that end goal is, I've learned that happiness takes effort, and is well worth pursuing.

So, while the quarter century year may be over, the crisis is still far from resolved. I don't know where 26 will take me - but I have faith it will be an adventure.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

I can't sleep

I'm known for not getting a whole lot of sleep. Partly due to crazy work hours, partly due to a somewhat active social life, the bags under my eyes have become as much a staple of my look as my lightning bolt earring.

But my lack of sleep has always been due to activity - not insomnia. Until now.

Laying awake at night, in bed, while dead tired, is new to me.

It started a few weeks ago, with, of course, a phone call at an odd hour. A close friend delivered the shocking news that a childhood friend had committed suicide.

I was left stunned. Speechless. Sobbing. Everything felt tilted, shifted. Nothing made sense.

In a tearful exchange with my parents later that day, they begged me to never do that to them. To seek help if needed. To care for my friends and loved ones, and encourage them to reach out. It broke my heart.

I didn't expect her death to hit me so hard. We hadn't been close in years. But we had so many things in common - shared upbringings, lofty goals, independent streaks, workaholic tendencies and, after rocky relationship endings, both of us had seemed to have finally realized our childhood dreams, with our careers and lives seemingly on the right, and similar, paths.

In my parents' eyes, it could have just as easily been me. Practically, two years ago, it could have been me.

I can't seem to stop dwelling on it, wondering why I kept going and she didn't. And, it's sent me into a spiral of stress, sorrow, confusion and introspection. I wonder how I can make the most of my own life. What I want for the future (a satisfying career. Close friends. A partner-in-crime. Maybe even a kid). I wonder how I can assuage my parents' fears. Take care of my friends. And how I can finally, hopefully, find the peace to get some sleep.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Time passes

August 2. We picked the long weekend, because he thought it would help him remember the date. Bam Margera did the same thing. Plus, we said, it would make transport for out of town guests easier. (Incidentally, it was also my high school boyfriend's birthday.)

I wore a gold dress. Made promises for the future. Used words like "forever". Listened to everyone speak about how they knew we were going to last, because we were so obviously, deeply in love.

That was three years ago. God, has it really been three years? Sometimes, it feels like a lifetime. Like it happened to a stranger.

But then, there's the vivid, all too recent memories. The smell of the fresh cut grass. The sprinkling of rain as we signed the documents under the gazebo. My father's somewhat shaky hand and emotional voice as he walked me down the aisle - they feel like they happened minutes ago.

Yesterday was my wedding anniversary. The logical part of my brain says that I should be over it. It's no biggie. It's just another day.

But still, even in the middle of an amazing trip to New York, I had occasional flashbacks. Bittersweet memories. Feelings of loss, regret, guilt and failure.

Last year, I used that fateful day of the second of August to break the news to people, hiding in bed under the covers as worried phone calls came in from friends and family, just wishing for a reprieve from their sympathy. From the guilt I felt. From the feeling of failure. From the fear of rebuilding my life from scratch.

This year, I swore it would be different. I planned a fun trip, with friends determined to make the most of my first trip to New York. I promised myself I wouldn't cry. It wasn't so much that I needed a distraction as that I needed to create good memories on that day. And I did. But, I still felt emotionally charged all weekend. And, in moments of silence, those few minutes when everything stopped, I felt a little misty. I don't miss being married. We were terrible at it. And, by the end, we were terrible together. We even made each other terrible people.

But, I think, the day makes me sad, and is so hard, because of what it was supposed to represent: Hope. Forever. Love.

I don't know if I'll ever have that again. I am grateful I had it once. And while I'm very, very happy with my life, there is certainly a sense of loss that comes with any kind of ending.

I guess, the best I can do is just hope that every year, that date gets a little bit easier. And maybe learn to acknowledge that Simcoe day may never just be another normal day for me.

(Photo: About Image Photography)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Earnestness ...

I got a wedding invitation in the mail today. It made me cry. But not for the reasons one would expect. I'm not terribly lonely, fearing being eaten by cats (no matter how much I may joke about it). I don't believe that it's a fruitless, punishing pursuit that's doomed to fail. It didn't even make me feel particularly old to know that this childhood friend was buying a house and tying the knot. (Having been there, done that two and three years ago, respectively, may have skewed my expectations there).

It was actually tear-inducing because it was so earnest. Simple. Traditional. Hopeful. In so many ways the opposite of my own. I think we got married partly as a lark. Sure, it was expected that we'd do it, but we were young and decided to eschew tradition, do our own thing. He proposed over the phone. My man of honour wore sneakers. I wore gold instead of white. The White Stripes played us down the garden path - there were to be no churches. We were funky and avant garde, or so we thought.

The few bits of traditional were imposed by our families and, in some smaller part, by me, because at heart I was (and still am) a hopeless romantic who just someday wants what my parents have - a partner in crisis, sure, but also someone who you just like having around. Someone you can idle away a morning with sitting with a cup of tea and still call the day a success.

There is nothing alternative about this couple. Their wedding is no surprise, as mine was. I was expected to put career before marriage (which in some ways I still did, perhaps accelerating my status as a 25-year-old divorcee).

Theirs will be the perfect, traditional east coast affair. There will be a church, and a legion. Things we sneered at, as though they were too precious, too predictable.

I'm sure I'll cry at their wedding. Because, despite the fact that I threw a gorgeous, fun party, it will be the wedding I kind of always expected I would have. Because when they say forever, they're earnestly hoping for it, rather than just assuming forever is a right. Because they mean every single flourish on that invitation, every bow tied with every single length of ribbon, and every single syllable of every (anticipated to be lengthy and drawn out) selection of scripture. Because, for them, it will last, and that's a really beautiful thing.