Tuesday, August 21, 2012

So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Adieu!

I hate packing.

Case and point: I am sitting in Starbucks sipping a $2.09 coffee while two new suitcases lie at home, sprawled open on the bed and floor of my bedroom. The wrapping is still on the handles and there are reminders that they once lived at Sears still in the bottom of the case, yet there are purses and hats and accessories and one hoodie thrown carelessly into them. I spent three days deciding what DVDs and TV box sets I was going to bring in my travel CD case, and took another four to put the empty cases back on the shelf. There is a large box with a blanket in the bottom sitting on the floor of my living room, next to which is my jewelry box and iPod dock station ready to be wrapped in the packing foam that is currently acting as a rug for my cat.

I am leaving for Ottawa (henceforth referred to as "The Capital" as an homage to The Hunger Games because I am a neeeerd) in 8 days! That is soon. I realized how soon it was when my parents came into my room as I was "packing" last night and started talking about the idea of "missing me." Also, Millie the cat has realized that I am leaving - she knows what suitcases mean - and she has been mopey and clingy, following me everywhere I go for the past week.

People have asked me if I'm excited or nervous or sad to leave. To be honest, I am all of these things. But I also feel really good about and really ready for this move.

I can only compare this relocation to my one other big move, when I first left Newfoundland for British Columbia - and the reason I started this blog. When I left for Vancouver, I wasn't really healthy emotionally or mentally, I don't think. I was heartbroken; I was panicky after finishing an Arts degree with no further plans; I was ready to live on my own; I was afraid to stay in St. John's without my sister living at home; I was exhausted from some intense friendship burnouts. I just wanted out. I do not regret my 9 months in BC: I learned a lot, met some of my best friends, travelled, and lived on my own in a big city. But I went to BC thinking the city would fix me. Spoiler alert: it didn't.

Coming home was hard. It was hard working full time for the first time in my entire life, feeling like a failure for leaving UBC, feeling directionless and unaccomplished, feeling alone and envious because many of my friends had moved on to new places and exciting adventures. But I needed this year at home to do some thinking and praying. I needed counselling and healing. I needed to spend lots of time questioning and searching, finding out what I really wanted for my life instead of mucking about, hoping I'd someday recieve some mystical enlightenment.

And it is with this newfound perspective on life that I leave home again. I have spent quality time on myself these past 6 months, working on feeling good emotionally and physically. I have surrounded myself with people who encourage and challenge me, who make me laugh and listen to me cry. I feel rejuvenated. I feel confident in my career path, in my abilities, and my future. I'm in a completely different mind frame than I was in August 2010.

Maybe this is what it feels like to grow up.

So I will miss home. I will miss my parents and my cats. I will miss my friends and my apartment. I will miss having a car and spending weeknights at Chapters writing. I will miss the familiarity of the city and knowing someone wherever I go. I will miss my church. But I am excited about life in The Capital. I love the city and my program promises to be interesting and stimulating. I am glad to have friends already in the city, and to have already met some new people. The future looks shiny and promising and hopeful.

I think perhaps that is healthy: to love a place enough to know when it is time to leave.

Number of books read in 2012: 15
Current TV series: Scrubs season 5
Current nail colour: Essence's "Where is the Party?"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lights Will Guide You Home

When I first met my best bud Wheels (birth name: Melissa Wheeler) 10 years ago, I quickly learned two things about her: she liked basketball and her favourite band was Coldplay. I was not a fan of either of those things, so we saw each other at birthday parties and city-wide youth group events, and that was pretty much it. Also I was a year older, so I was too cool and mature to befriend a youngster like Wheels.

However, at one fateful birthday party, I remember that someone gave Wheels a homemade birthday card that used Coldplay lyrics to compose a birthday greeting. I remember being impressed that someone took the time to do that, but also feeling that I would really like these Coldplay fellows if I gave them a chance. Shortly after, I bought their first two albums and listened, as is my standard practice, on repeat.

I didn't fall in love with Chris Martin & co. until the summer of 2005, however, when they released their third album X&Y. I had just graduated high school, was dealing with the remnants of a crush on a boy that was certainly unhealthy, working at Camp Starrigan and feeling a bit lost and directionless (a sentiment which seems to be a recurring theme of my life).

I've always been deeply touched by music, especially lyrics, and X&Y came along at exactly the right time. It was a departure from Coldplay's first two albums, and the theme seemed very much about finding love, comfort, and healing in times of confusion and disruption. The stand-out song at the time was "Fix You." The story of feeling lost, hopeless, and completely irreparable resonated with me; but the chorus, the simple, three-line chorus, promised that there is a God, and that there are people in this world who don't want to lose you, who will be standing there in the darkness with a light, showing the promise that there is hope, that you will get better: 

When you try your best but you don't succeed,
When you get what you want but not what you need,
When you feel so tired but you can't sleep,
Stuck in reverse.

And the tears come streaming down your face,
When you lose something you can't replace,
When you love someone but it goes to waste,
Could it be worse?

Lights will guide you home,
And ignite your bones,
And I will try to fix you.

And thus my love affair with Coldplay began. My newfound appreciation of the band also brought Wheels and I closer together, as we could have long, intense discussions about the music, our favourite songs, lyrics that did and didn't make sense, and the personal lives of the band members. Last October, Coldplay released their fifth album Mylo Xyloto. Wheels picked me up from work at lunch time and we drove to Future Shop, bought our albums, rushed through a quick lunch and sat in her car listening for the remaining 20 minutes. It was love at Track 2 (Track 1 is a waste of an intro). After a lot of discussion with Wheels and Robyn, I decided that Mylo Xyloto is my favourite Coldplay album, with my favourite songs being "Charlie Brown," "Us Against the World," and "Don't Let it Break Your Heart."

So when Wheels and I finally saw Coldplay in concert, it wasn't just a great show; it was an incredibly emotional experience. When they sang "Fix You" I was transported back to the summer of 2005 when I would lie on the grass at Starrigan at night with other staff members, sharing iPods and singing along to a song that touched all of us at our core.

If you never try you'll never know / just what you're worth

When Coldplay sang "Yellow" I remembered lying on the beach on my last night as an employee at Starrigan and listening to the song as a meteor shower rained down over us. 

Look at the stars / look how they shine for you

As they sang "The Scientist," I listened as every person in the Air Canada Centre sang along, knowing every word and every little riff; a song that has meaning for every person who has ever heard it.

Nobody said it was easy / no one ever said it would be this hard

As Coldplay sang "Us Against the World" and Wheels and I swayed along with the piano, I thought about the difficult year we had both just gone through; I, struggling with feelings of inadequacy and failure and hopelessness about my economic and academic future; she dealing with her own personal storm of facing adulthood. I thought about how often we listened to the album together, how we had been a source of strength for one another when we couldn't be for ourselves, how when other friends had let us down we could always turn to each other for complete trust and honesty. 

Through chaos as it swirls / it's us against the world

As they sang "Viva la Vida" and "Lovers in Japan" I remembered meeting a friend on the bus who I hadn't seen in a while and having an invigorating discussion about the new album vs. their old style, and I felt accepted as an equal who had something to contribute to a discussion about music.

But I have no doubt / one day the sun will come out

And as they played "Every Teardrop is a Waterfall," their final song of the show, I remembered a talk I'd had with Robyn when the single was first released. I'd said that I wasn't sure if the song was brilliant or boring, and she agreed, and then I thought about how I'd made up my mind: the song and the album were fantastic.

Don't want to see another generation drop / I'd rather be a comma than a full stop

Coldplay has been the soundtrack to a lot of my life - big, important moments; everyday meanderings; road trip sing-a-longs; background noise while writing essays. Hearing them live, standing close enough to see Chris Martin's sweat-soaked shirt, singing along with thousands and thousands of other fans, and being there with my best friend and the person who introduced me to them 10 years ago was one of the most emotionally charged and happiest moments of my life.

There is no emotional high like meaningful music.

Number of books read in 2012: 14
Current TV series: Scrubs season 4
Current nail colour: nails inc.'s "sweets way"