These expectations of years are rarely acknowledged. I live in a pendulum swing of when I have, then I will and If I knew, then I would. But that swing gets less dramatic with every passing moment.
I don’t know what the magic formula is. I honestly don’t. I don’t know what I need to do, in order to feel good every single day. I kind of know what I need to stop doing, and that’s have expectations of myself that whatever I am doing isn’t enough.
It is. It is. It is.
I’m living, breathing proof that something is going right because I’ve been fortunate enough to make it all the way through 39 years. There have been dark paths and sparkly detours, days when it was easy to jump out of bed and some when there weren’t enough covers in existence to pull over my head. I laugh more than I cry and when I cry, it’s for things that really really hurt. Or because I’m laughing so hard that I can’t help it.
I’m so goddamn lucky to have been born, three 13’s ago, into the family I was, with the brain that I have, in the country that I did, near an ocean to give me the perspective that I’m an intrinsic part of something huge and glorious and wavy. And just salty enough for flavour.
Two thirteens ago, I was on a fulcrum between little girl and young woman. I was scared of the future but in that excited way when one understands that anything could happen and it’s most likely going to be good. I put a lot of emphasis on what other people thought I should do, without understanding that they didn’t know any better than I, how to find truth. I stumbled quite a bit in those years and fortunately made it through. I had a lot of help. One of the shiniest beacons came on a night when it was just mum and I, at home, watching television. A movie came on but I didn’t know what it was. Mum did and said, oh! Stop! We need to watch this! YOU need to watch this.
I watched as a young man prepared meticulously a ritual of sorts, putting on a record (it was the first time I heard Cat Stevens too) lighting candles, attaching a note to his lapel, and then jumping off a chair and hanging himself. I looked at my mother, completely shocked, more so when I saw the smile on her face.
For anyone reading this who doesn’t know, it was the opening scene of Harold and Maude. The movie changed my life. I went from being a 13 year old girl, thoroughly convinced of her own importance and immortality to a wiser young woman whose perspective on dying, getting older and falling in love had changed completely. I haven’t been afraid of any of those things since that moment. That’s not to say that I’m not afraid of anything, that’s completely false. There’s tons of stuff that scares the bejeezus out of me. People I love being in pain. Hell, people I don’t love being in pain. Commitment, though I’m working on that with this whole school thing. I know it’s only 10 months, but baby steps people, c’mon. Whatever, there’s a bunch of stuff. But this isn’t the place for it. The point is, that moment created an openness to portions of the future I hadn’t even begun to wrap my 13 year old head around. So perfect. And if I get to a place where I’m even half as cool as Maude as played by Ruth Gordon, I’m kicking so much ass.
One thirteen ago was right around the time I decided to move to Ymir, beginning my long distance love affair, forcing me to split my time between the kootenays and the coast. I had been in a relationship with someone that wasn’t helping either of us but we had been together for just long enough that we couldn’t imagine being apart, much less being alone or with anyone else. You know that place where it’s easier to stay than to go? Yeah, that’s where we were at. And I was so unhappy. Which is a terrible way to love someone, unhappily. And I wanted something that I couldn’t quite focus on. I remember standing in a friend’s driveway, trying to tell him what I didn’t have any words for and he said, “This is something that women your age go through. This is the point where you have a baby or go back to school.” It made me crazy. I was so sure there had to be a third option. And so I packed up myself and my dog and drove to the koots to open a movie theatre with my friend. Enrolled in a business course to understand a world I had never even considered entering. Found a certain equilibrium living away from the sea for the first time ever, planned and schemed and dreamed my way into a new reality. We didn’t have a chance to follow through on the plans to start a theatre just then, but who knows what the future holds. It’s still possible that we’ll be partners in realizing it sometime. And the first movie we plan to show? Harold and Maude, of course.
I had done hitchhiking road trips all over the place. I had traveled in my van down the coast with a group of friends, but up until that point I had never packed up all my stuff and just moved somewhere else. It was intoxicating. I always knew that I would travel, but I never really thought about the possibility of living anywhere other than where I already did. It was comfort and home and, though stifling and small and excessively touristy in the summer, a lovely place to live. How liberating it was, not only to understand that I could uproot and transplant myself somewhere new, but I could attempt something I had never considered viable for myself, such as opening a business. Granted, I didn’t do it at that point, but I allowed myself to believe I was capable of it and that opened up a vista where I totally was. It doesn’t matter that I didn’t. Not even a bit.
And so here I am at the the beginning of the next 13. Living in a happy medium of mountains and sea, in a tiny house that I manifested at the end of the road, writing this on a desk built by my dad’s dad, about to open myself up to an new experience that I never expected to have. Going back to school is something that might have scared me 13 years ago because I saw it as an end to a certain way of life that I wasn’t ready to quite let go of. I’m starting to understand that all of these are just moments to enhance this life I’m living, whether I’m 13 or 39. There’s no end, there’s only a shift in perspective. It’s up to me to carry those things still helpful and let go of those I don’t need anymore. But whether I bring them or leave them, the person who was shaped by those is still growing, still evolving, still here.
And the view from here is amazing.