Ten days before my Graduation, my first boyfriend broke up with me.
He sat at the edge of my bed and ended an eight-week relationship in five minutes. I told him to leave and called my best friend like she was a lifeline and I was sinking. She rushed over and stood in the doorway holding a bottle of wine poking out of a brown LCBO bag – a lifebuoy.
I pulled up to my Grad in a white dress, red lip, fresh balayage and a $40 spray tan. I smiled from ear to ear, feeling joy for the first time since he left. The breeze grazed my hair and sunlight hit the highlight on my cheek, as my friends snapped photos of me outside the school I had attended for the last five years, and posted them to Instagram as if to say to the world, Here I Am.
That day, my friends took me to lunch and over a bottle of wine I was able to see each of their faces and realize how lucky I was. How each of them had taken the time to comfort me in my time of need. It was strange that just days before I was considering moving back to my hometown because my world had been shaken so much. How that one instance in my bedroom ten days before was able to rid me of my confidence and self-assuredness. How, even just for a moment, it made me think of moving away from a place I now called home.
Looking back now, I realized I needed something to shake me. To wake me up. To snap. Because now, I feel better than I could have ever imagined.
Life since graduating, albeit not a breeze, has been the most fulfilling.
I moved into my own apartment in the heart of Centretown. It’s a humble bachelor with a wall of windows that faces East, and each morning I drink a pot of tea while I watch the sunrise with my cat. I’m surrounded by pieces of used furniture I’ve curated from Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji. I cursed my way through assembling a Mid Century-modern desk by myself.
I tell myself each month when I hand over a rent cheque worth 40% of my income that it’s worth the proximity to everything; my friends, my grocery store, my gym, work- because quite frankly, it is.
Every Wednesday I go to my best friend’s apartment up the street, and we have therapy sessions over (delicious) home-made food at her dinner table.
I started my first ever real adult job. With benefits. And a salary. And while I never thought I’d be working for an IT Recruitment company, I’ve learned so much since starting up there. I’ve received my first taste of office culture and the politics that come with it. My all-women team is super supportive and they’ve essentially adopted me as their little sister. Our team-building exercises have gone from painting pottery to doing yoga on Parliament Hill with 200 other public servants. I even marched in the climate strike with some of them on my lunch break.
While my teenage self would scoff at the concept of anything intercepting my freedom, a regular 9-5 has greatly impacted my mental health. It seems as though all those self-help books were right. Through a (non-perfect) regiment of journaling, meditating and exercising, all of which have given me an outlet to not only be aware of what I am feeling and why I am feeling it, I now have the space to move and do something about it.
Looking back at the last year, I’ve done an incredible amount of work getting myself out of a tough place I never thought I’d be free of. Life, as I’ve realized, comes with all of these situations and feelings no one can control, but with stability, I can just treat them like I would the weather. (You just have to pack an umbrella.)
Summer slowly simmered down and in the months of August and September, I found myself in this place where I was thriving.
After five years of fighting off bouts of debilitating depression between essays and assignments, and a rough breakup in early June, I was finally reaching out to old acquaintances and the people I chose to connect with weren’t there because of convenience but because I enjoyed their presence. For the first time in a really long time, I was happy.
I saw this happiness seep into every part of my life. I was no longer resentful of people who had things I wanted. It made being a good friend, a good coworker, a nice stranger, easy.
Then, by happenstance, without really meaning to, I fell in love.
And I mean, I could go into all the details and tell an elaborate story of how we met and the lengths went through to be together. But the thing is that our story, so far, has been pretty simple. Almost too simple. I can’t help but think that because I always used to associate love with pain, loss, and betrayal. Every so often I gaze at him, feeling my old skepticism rising to the surface and I ask myself, is this real? And he reminds me every day that, yes it is.
I wish I could tell my past selves in each moment of crisis where I would be in time.
How grateful I am that I didn’t move back home because I thought I was drowning, because I would’ve never gotten this job. I would’ve never met him, who challenges me to be the best version of myself, and inspired me to pick up my pen and start writing again.
So, that’s why I’m here, at The Crooked Friend. I’m learning how to do the things I love without negative inspiration. I don’t need a fantastical story to write about to escape from my reality. I don’t need heartbreak to write a good poem.
I can be a writer without pain, its just a bike I’ve never ridden before.