A List of Things That Happened
So it’s my birthday today, and I wanted to write a blog post about my life so far, but I wasn’t sure how to organize it or what the hook should be. I’ve been a little bit jumbled and jivey lately because of the overwhelming muchness of my schedule (pleasurable as it is). My writing has become less frequent and more scattered as a result, though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Anyway, for each year of my life, I’m going to write down the first thing I can remember about it.
I don’t remember jackshit about this year, because I was a baby.
But one of the first things I do remember was that everything looked and felt brown. I guess I must have mild synesthesia.
I have difficulty sorting out dreams from reality in my earliest memories. There were recurring nightmares. Fragmented thoughts and images which didn’t make sense in context, and may have been from another life.
I started going to my babysitter’s house. She became one of the most important adults in the first half of my childhood. She was different from the other adults in my life; more laid-back. Nothing could phase her.
My sister was born and almost died. This year was a flurry of activity. The claustrophobic brownness of my childhood stopped, and was replaced by pastels, song, and motion.
Kindergarten. Trying to adjust to a new world, a new routine, being forced to be places I didn’t want to be, and do things I couldn’t do. Trying to avoid using the filthy bathrooms.
Educational TV permeated my childhood. I remember long summer mornings with my mother and sister sitting on the living room floor in front of the couch watching our favourite shows. Sharon Lois and Bram was a staple.
Going to a new babysitter after school. Her kids and their friends excluded me and left me to entertain myself. So many books. The year overflowed with reading. It was the first year I read chapter books, and the last year I read picture books on a regular basis. There were also comic strips, comic books, magazines, and non-fiction. Everything I could get my hands on, I devoured.
Pogs. Power Rangers. Batman Forever. Disney Adventures. Playing in the patch of trees behind my friend’s house, pretending we were running from Nazi ghosts and banshees.
Toward the end of this year was the Great Depression. Several months of pitch black clinical despair, of which I remember next to nothing.
We got my dog this year, a golden retriever named Nellie. Happy. Wise. As aristocratic as it’s possible to be when you’re a cuddle bitch.
Writing plays with a friend and practising them in his basement. Going to the store and buying candy bars. Being surrounded by pop culture- The Spice Girls, The Backstreet Boys, South Park- and not giving a shit.
A commotion of feelings. Falling in love with my best friend Kelly. Anger, fear, bliss, and lust.
My family got the Internet. I immediately found a teen chatroom and got way over my head. Naomi, Caitlin, Hamish, and Leah, and all the others. The only time I’ve been in the middle of a crowd.
High school. Something completely new to get used to. Happier than kindergarten, at least.
Possibly the quietest year of my life. My family traveled out west that summer.
First relationship. Brief and stormy, simultaneously cold and warm. I felt both young and old.
During the spring and summer I felt like a shook-up bottle of soda, in the best way.
I remember walking through a park with a good friend. Closing Time by Leonard Cohen was stuck in my head for some reason.
Starting university. Toronto became a much bigger part of my life. I loved (and love) the city, I was uncomfortable with the school.
A six hour exam.
I wanted very badly to leave university in order to focus on my writing. I wrote approximately twenty short stories this year.
Nellie died, I almost lost the contents of my hard drive, my mother had some medical problems, my sister left for school, I dropped out of university. A hard, cold year.
Hanging out with my wild friend Timothy. Bopping around the city together, seeing a lot of pretentious things. Going to a conference together in a dangerous part of Philadelphia.
The first half of the year was marked by dysfunction and chaos: Timothy had a life-threatening illness, and my friend Jane almost died. In the second half of the year, I moved to Toronto and started working at the university. A sweaty, noisy year, divided equally into dark and light.
Calm, quiet, and lonesome. A hungover year.
Quite possibly the happiest year of my life so far. Also one of the most transformative. I met Hannah, and her presence changed everything. The year was full of colour and light; a kaleidoscope swirling around and finally settling on verdant green.
The first half of the year has been all about setting things into motion which will drastically alter the shape of my life in the back half of this year and well into the next.