I grew up as a fat kid and worse, as far as society was concerned, a fat girl.
Knowing this is important because I feel it adds significance to what I’m about to say: I’ve always wanted to go proper camping with friends but been terrified to do so.
I love nature. I find it grounding and relaxing. So you’d think that camping would be right up my ally. Weeeeeeeell, yes and no. Camping always seemed like a thing for people in better shape.
Camping seemed the realm of fit people. Not meant for me. There were too many opportunities for a kid, constantly concerned that everyone was thinking about how fat she was, to embarrass herself.
It’s a defeatist frame of mind I’ve been battling for a long time and honestly, doing things on this Big 30 project has really helped.
I know it’s helped because when friends offered to let me join them on a backwoods camping trip that I was totally terrified I would be a drag on, I said yes.
Not only did I say yes, I fucking WENT.
I know I don’t look thrilled there, but that’s mostly because the first night was freezing and I was nervous about our first day of proper hiking.
Not only were we hiking, we were hiking with heavy packs on our backs that included our tents, food, and evvvvvvvvvvvverything.
It wasn’t exactly easy hiking either, but damn was it beautiful.
It was honestly a super challenging but super fun weekend.
We cooked meals by campfire, we swam in frigid lake, we hiked across a beaver dam, I used one of those plastic thingys so that I could pee standing up like a man…it was great.
Hiking with a heavy pack was something I was really nervous about and although I was slow, I was mostly able to keep a fairly good pace. One of my friends who was with us had a concussion and while I wouldn’t wish that on her, I appreciated having someone else who went the same pace as I did.
Going on this trip really pushed my boundaries and it made me realize that sometimes I say no because I’m afraid I can’t do the thing I want to do and saying no is easier than trying and failing. It also made me realize that I resent the hell out of myself when I do that.
When we set up camp day 2, the other two ladies in the group and myself decided to go jump in the lake.
I’ve swam in lakes before, so you wouldn’t THINK that’s a big deal for me, but I’ve almost always swam in familiar waters or at least in places where I can wade in and sort of see what I’m going into.
Here’s a recreation of what I was thinking before I jumped in the water:
“I saw a snake in the water not far from here earlier, what if there are more snakes in the water? What if a snake is in the rocks and I freak it out when I jump in the water and it bites me? Are there poisonous water snakes in Ontario, I thought we only had Rattlesnakes that are poisonous, I should learn more about snakes and indigenous species in general.
These rocks are slippy, if I jump in the water I might not be very able to get out again and then it’s this big thing and I’ll look like and idiot and I’ll feel like and idiot and can I even get into the water in the first place? What if I slip on the rock on my way into the water and crack my head open? What if I jump in the water and there’s a rock I can’t see and I cut myself?
I don’t like not being able to see the bottom of the lake, it’s cool if I can’t touch the bottom but what if there’s something in there that bites me or touches my feet?!”
As much worrying as there is above, I didn’t dither too long before I jumped in and once I was in, I was really happy. Not just happy because I did the thing, but happy because I felt all gross and sticky and no longer did. That and I just genuinely love swimming.
Not that long ago, I would have begged out of the swimming and either sat on the side feeling like a loser or gone back to my tent feeling left out. I didn’t do any of that, though. Instead, I just did the thing I wanted to do and felt amazing for having done it. That’s pretty much how I felt about the entire weekend, really.
It was stuff I wanted to do but wasn’t sure if I could and I didn’t want to be a drag on anyone if I couldn’t, but I did it anyway. Not only did I try, I succeeded!
I learned a lot that weekend and I can’t thank my friends and their friends enough for letting me tag along and for being so freaking supportive.
I’d backwoods camp with you kids any day…although not right now because it’s winter.
Freezing my ass off is not on my bucket list.
It occurred to me the other day that I think I’m starting to grow roots.
Not literally, I’m not becoming an Ent, but figuratively. For the first time in my adult life, I actually know some of my neighbours. I don’t necessarily know all their names, but I know most of their pet’s names and I know their faces.
There are shops, not many but some, where the sales staff and I recognize each other and transactions are peppered with legitimate questions of well being or good wishes for the day.
Having lived in this city most of my adult life, I finally kind of know where most stuff is and in what direction.
I have a routine.
I have the spare keys to a friend’s place.
I have a daily social circle, which is completely comprised of people and dogs I know at the dog park, but I am totally ok with that.
Most of these changes largely have to do with my dog. He’s forced me to become a part of my community, which is probably really good for me and has made me realize what an hermit I can actually be.
While I’m kind of pleasantly surprised about these new tendrils of what may be roots, I also want to rip them up and run away?
To quote Walt Whitman really loosely, I’m a bundle of contradictions.
I’ve moved so many times since the first time I moved away from home, I don’t really want to go through the packing and unpacking part again, but I’d be lying if I said the idea of picking up and moving far away didn’t appeal.
I don’t know if this is a comment on my mental health or a very natural desire to go seek out newness because it’s exciting, but it is what it is.
I think maybe it’s just a sign that there are still things I’m looking for, things I feel are missing. It’s probably also kind of a sign of frustration, this year has been the biggest struggle I’ve had with my mental health since I was unemployed. I have been and I am getting help, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still kind of butt nugget sometimes.
I’m trying to figure out what it is that I feel like I’m missing, but that isn’t easy either. It’s kind of like when you’re trying to choose a movie to watch but you can’t decide what you’re in the mood for so you just end up watching YouTube videos until you end up in that weird part of the internet again. (I really hope it’s not just me who does that)
I think part of why I’m so restless is that I haven’t had much for vacation yet this year. I took a week to go to the cottage, but I’ve been saving half of my vacation days so I can go to my friend’s wedding in Georgia.
I’m super excited. I’ve never been further south than New York City, so going to Georgia is a big deal for me. Not only that, I get to hang out with awesome people and meet people from my online community that I’ve never gotten to see in person before. THERE WILL BE MANY AWKWARD HUGS!
Man, speaking of roots, I have quite a few strong ones in that community. These are a group of virtual friends who have been there for me from when I worked fast food and hated my life to my first big-girl job, unemployment, and my current life. They are the most supportive bunch of delightful weirdos you could ever want to meet and I get to meet some of them in person in a few weeks and I AM SO EXCITED! CAPS LOCKS IS ON, MUTHA TRUCKERS, BECAUSE I AM YELLING WITH JOY….FIGURATIVELY. I DO HAVE NEIGHBOURS, YOU KNOW. IT WOULD BE AWKWARD TO LITERALLY YELL.
You know what? I don’t have much else to say this week, so I’m going to end it on this high note.
To my friend, Amanda, I am so excited to see you again and to help out with whatever I can for your wedding. In fact, I will probably look even more excited than I did last time we hung out.
P.S. In retrospect, I realize this is kind of creepy but whatever. THIS IS OUR FRIENDSHIP.
This week I feel like I have very little to say.
The reason I feel that way is because what I WANT to be writing about is precisely the thing I won’t let myself write about.
See, this past Saturday, I completed another BIG 30 Project item.
I jumped out of a plane.
Ever since I landed, I’ve been excited and impatient to share my experience because it is one of significant meaning to me and I’m very excited about the whole thing. I haven’t shared much of it online yet, though, and there’s a reason I’ve shared only one photo from the experience and have yet to post the video online where all my friends and family can see it.
As anxious as I am to share my adventure with ALL my friends and family, I think there’s something to be said for sharing these types of things in person.
It wasn’t really all that long ago that people had little choice but to share things in person. The entire reason for for visiting was to catch each other up on news and to share photos, and there was a very particular kind of joy in sharing that together. You felt closer to each other and it was fun to watch the reactions of one another as you shared parts of your life with the people you care about.
I think we’ve lost some of that with things like Social Media. Don’t get me wrong, Facebook and Instagram are great but I think that like all things, they ought to be used in moderation. It’s become so simple to share all our news with the click of a button, I worry that we sometimes cheat ourselves of the fun of sharing in the…well….sharing.
So, I have chosen to keep my video and my photos offline until such time as I’ve had a chance to share in the sharing of them with some of the people closest to me- both literally and figuratively.
I mean, how many times am I going to have the opportunity to watch my parents watch me jump out of plane? (At least the first time)
I’ll only ever get one chance to watch my folks watch me skydive for the first time. So, why would I cheat myself of the opportunity to watch them watch me?
It occurs to me that this is getting kind of creepy, but it’s not about being creepy, it’s about sharing our lives with the people that matter and taking the time to take part in that sharing. That’s how you build memories.
I have shared the video and photos with a few friends thus far but I have done so in person and I can’t tell you how much more fun it is to see friends react than to see a ‘like’.
Skydiving is not something I think most people ever expected me to do and to love as much as I did, so watching friends watch the proof of the event has been kind of awesome. I get to see their surprise at watching me do the thing, even though they knew I was doing it.
It’s like watching someone’s view of you change and that is kind of a miraculous thing to see.
This weekend, I’m going to be visiting my folks, cousins, and probably grandparents.
I can’t wait to show them the video.
These are people who have known me my entire life. People who have known me as the cautious child I was, the girl who hated (still hates) being atop a ladder. To watch them do something even I wasn’t sure I was capable of is something I’m looking forward to immensely.
So, this week’s blog post is going to be a little shorter than normal.
Because everything I have to say inside of me is tied up in excitement and secrecy.
Once it’s time, though, I can’t wait to share it.
If you ever want to be really irritated with humanity and question the social standard of our modern day society, there is no place better to go than to the cinema. I love seeing movies on the big screen, but you know what I don’t love? Almost everyone else watching it with me (barring friends, of course. Most of you passed the ‘Can I Watch a Movie With This Person?’ test long ago).
Going to the movies turns me into Benedict Cumberbatch at the Oscars.
Last night I went to see The Imitation Game with a friend and while there was probably only about 20 people, if that, in the theatre with us, at least 4 of the 20 were awful cinema attendees. In fact, 2 of them were so bad that I actually contemplated throwing something at them. I literally shushed them at one point and even though they were SLIGHTLY better after that, they still didn’t stop (talked throughout the movie, had their cells on, each one went to the bathroom during and were super noisy about it).
But you know what? This post isn’t about them.
This is a post about FRIENDSHIP.
So, last night, after the movie, I thought I lost my cell phone. I’ll spare you the long and boring details of my search for it, but the friend I went to the movies with was super helpful and supportive during my “Oh shit, oh shit,” panic mode and then, as we left the cinema and my shattered hopes behind, I realized that my cell phone had been stuck in my bra the entire time.
Because (I belatedly remembered) I had worried it would fall out of my coat pocket, so I stuck it where it would be secure in case I had to get up for any reason.
I felt like the world’s biggest moron and like a total drama queen, and do you know what my friend did?
She didn’t resent the time she’d spend helping me, she didn’t think I was a moron, she wasn’t annoyed with me, she was just amused at my massive blonde moment. That, my friends, is true friendship.
As we made our journey home, we joked around as per usual and as we parted ways I found myself thinking that I was super happy and lucky to have a friend who would take something like that so in stride. It seems like a small thing, not flipping when someone makes an honest mistake, but I didn’t have a lot of great friends as a kid, so sometimes I still get taken aback when I realize I have them now.
I’m not really sure why I didn’t have a lot of ‘true’ friends as a kid. I was odd, I know that, but you’d think I’d have screwed up and had more than one or two (and even when I did have them, I usually wasn’t very close with them). It might have been because I’ve never been really used to talking to people my own age.
When you grow up as an only child on a farm surrounded by adults and animals, you don’t socialize all that much. I’m great at talking to people older than myself, always have been, but I’ve always had a bit of trouble understanding my peers. It’s getting better with age, but I’m not sure if that’s because I’ve always been an adult in my head and everyone else is catching up or if I’ve simply gotten used to talking to people my own age through exposure.
Last year, for my 25th Birthday, I had a big party where I invited almost all my friends in town to my apartment for pre-drinks and then to the museum of Nature for an after-hours drinking and dance party they have once a month in the winter. It was one of those times that I was just floored by the amazing people in my life. I did not expect the amount of people, well wishes, and just love that came pouring out that evening.
Little known fact? I literally cried with happiness thinking about it the next day.
Tell anyone that and I’ll cut you.
Sure, having friends who actually give a crap may not seem like a big thing to some people, but to me? It is. I won’t apologize for that.
I spent a long, long time thinking that I MUST not be good enough because for a lot of my life people either bullied me, ignored me, or were my friend as long as I was a friend by ‘their’ rules or they wanted something from me. I was really afraid to get close to people because it rarely ended well. How much of that is my perception and how much of that was actually the case is irrelevant now, and part of me wishes I’d been brave enough to ask those kind of questions back then, but if I was, maybe I wouldn’t have such solid people around me now.
I’m still not great at letting people get close to me. I have amazing friends, it’s true, but I’m still alone a lot of the time. Part of that is because I’m still a little afraid and that stops me from doing things like making the effort to stay in touch and go out with them because I’m afraid I’m imposing or a nuisance or not wanted. Part of that is because in some ways, I’m still learning how to friend. I’m good at the ‘be there when they need you, help if you can, support them’ bit but I’m bad at the ‘what to do the rest of the time’ bit.
In the past 3 or 4 years especially, I have become lucky enough to call a large group of amazing people my friends. Some of you are in other countries, some of you are in other provinces, some of you I haven’t even met in person (I’m looking at YOU internet friends) but ALL of you are deeply loved. Even if I haven’t seen you in a while.
Thank you for being there for me.
You’re all a little part of the reason I’m learning to be ok with myself.
I love you.