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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Two Months In

...and as usual, Life is what's happening while we've made other plans.

Warren's transfer died on the vine a few days after we arrived here, and I'm still trying to break into the job market here in Victoria. I've done some networking, provided a little bit of design work on a freelance basis, and knocked on hundreds of doors. So, we're here, we're on Vancouver Island, but it seems like there's some...resistance. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but I don't want to overlook what it is that's inside me that's holding me back.

Doubt has always led me astray. I don't doubt that moving to BC was the best thing to do, and that it was done at the right time. My heart and my gut tell me so. Seeing my kids in the last little bit confirmed that. Being in Montréal while they live in Qualicum was just tearing me apart. Knowing that I'm closer to them now (if even a 2 and a half hour drive away) has knit something together inside of me that feels right. There are still loose, straggly ends...but if I handle them gently, maybe they won't snag.

So. Now we're here. Quite honestly, we're struggling vocationally and, subsequently, financially. Must re-focus. Want to be "realistic", but at the same time, do I need to be totally underemployed just to make ends meet? I am asking myself "what am I willing to do in order to pay the rent?" Same goes with Warren. After being in retail management for 13 years, why is he working at a grocery store for minimum wage stocking shelves? He's not complaining, mind you, and neither am I...but the question has to be asked. I want to be practical but I don't want to detour too sharply, either.

Warren wants to write and create for a living. So do I. I know that we can do those things at any time—and do them together, to boot—regardless of what we do for a living full-time. But I have a dream of devoting myself full-time to being a conduit of communication for people and causes that help people, that build community. Hospices. Community gardens. Thrift stores. Parenting groups. Food co-ops. Transition homes. Not a great deal of money to be made that way, but regardless, that's how I want my energy to be invested. That's what sets a fire in my belly.

But how to do that while feeding and housing myself, providing for my children, and creating a foundation for myself that I and my partner can build upon for the foreseeable future?

I just don't know. And after two months (yes, I know, not a long time, but still) I'm feeling dragged out and exhausted. Landed in Victoria from Montréal after an exhausting graduation, internship, and cross-country move.

Oh, to be nestled in a log cabin with a woodstove, a cord or three of wood, a fully-stocked pantry, a pile of books, an endless, steaming pot of tea, some knitting, a fresh moleskine, and lots of new pens. A purring cat or two on my lap. Maybe a friendly pooch to take for a walk along the beach. Okay, now I'm asking a great deal. I know, I need to muster up some gratitude. Maybe I am feeling a bit frayed around the edges a bit. Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that I am living on one of the busiest, noisiest corners I have EVER lived on...and this after having lived in Toronto and Montréal...how can it be noisier here in Victoria? How is that possible? I suppose living less than a block away from a fire station may have something to do with it.

At the very least, I'll approach some of these places and offer some pro-bono work just for the sake of feeding the fire in my belly. I'm tempted to get a bit frantic about it, though, when we're borrowing money just to pay the rent.

The possibilities are, as always, endless. I'm tired and feeling somewhat discouraged (and a bit depressed), but I can be thankful for the ever-present possibilities.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

An empty, echoey apartment.

Two days left until we fly out to B.C. Last night, the movers finally came and took everything that we can't take on the plane. Now we're camping out and will be sleeping on an air mattress for...well, indefinitely. Spartan lifestyle. I like the idea of the minimalism of it, so here's hoping that won't get old too fast.

Life flies by way too quickly. I remember walking through the rooms of this apartment before we moved in. I so wanted the kids to be here and I didn't know how that was going to happen. I wanted to build a life with Warren and I was waiting for him to propose. Now, just over three years later, the kids have come and gone back to B.C., Warren and I have been engaged for over two years now, I've lost a job and gained an education, lost a loved one, learned and lived and bickered and laughed and cried, all within these walls and over these creaky floors.

We've put out furniture and odds and ends that we were getting rid of out on the street, and watched people come in and out like the tide to take what they found value in. I watched Leah's old bedframe being dismantled on the sidewalk and hoisted onto someone's roof rack. Our cast-offs are being scattered throughout the neighborhood.

We lived here. Soon we'll be gone. Our things are scattered throughout the neighborhood—but we won't be here. These rooms that we lived in will be inhabited by someone else who will do their own living and laughing and loving and crying. We were here. Now we're gone.

Such a huge transition at this time of year is especially poignant and somewhat bittersweet. I feel a sadness at saying goodbye to people we've known, if even only for a short time. There's an exhilarating uncertainty about what the future holds.

Just another reminder that this is the stuff of which our lives are made.

Now, to sweeping the bare floors and wiping the empty cupboards.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Autumn Equinox seems a good time to update...

...though I am almost overwhelmed with how much there is to update about.

I've been far too busy to blog. Leah and Daniel moved back to BC with their dad. I continued on with school and just graduated a couple of weeks ago, so it seemed a perfect combination of events to relocate closer to where my kids are. Too much distance between Vancouver Island and Montréal for me to feel at ease with. I was spending way too much emotional and psychic energy shoring up against that awful, gaping emptiness that comes with my kids being on the other side of the country.

And really, I accomplished what I needed to accomplish by moving here—though, truth be told, the way the world looked when I first made the decision to come here looks almost completely different than what the world looks like now. I was in a different relationship and a different headspace. Looking back at this time four years ago, I know that I was, in all seriousness, functioning with something of a walking nervous breakdown. It is a miracle that I didn't end up in the hospital.

There are some things I did NOT do while here, and some things left ragged and undone...but to go and pick over those things would be futile now. I can accept that I tried my best, though imperfectly, and that if my life appears to have moved on, then, well, clearly it's moved on.

And for the better, thankfully. I can only attribute that to realising that there is much to be grateful for, and that the best Way is to be kind to myself and to those around me.

I've got the education to be a graphic designer now. I have a little portfolio, and I am looking to work towards being freelance and having a busy enough business that both Warren and I can work at it. We're moving back to Vancouver Island (though it's the first time for him), finally having our wedding next August (barefoot near the sea!), and starting an entirely new chapter.

6 days until we leave Montréal. Last night I was very weepy about it. I had a vivid 3 and 3/4 years here. Montréal is somewhere I always wanted to live, to BE...and it did not disappoint. I felt at home here. I feel like I am leaving home now. It's very odd to have lived in a place where I felt simultaneously at home and like a visitor. When I hear the church bells ringing in my neighborhood, when I understand more than a snippet of the french I hear on the street, when I ride my bike to the market on worn-out, gritty roads, and fly past the rows and rows of wrought-iron balconies and narrow alleyways, when I hear myself thinking about my shopping list in French, I realize that I stopped being a tourist a long time ago, and became part of the landscape. This city will leave its mark on my heart, more than words can convey. I'll carry it with me back to the west coast, in much the same way that I carried the west coast with me the whole time I've been here.

Some pictures...not enough, but some: