I’m already well into third year, and everything has changed once again. I haven’t shared too much about what went on over the spring and summer…but what a set of flipping curveballs.
School’s In for Summer
Summer school began in the middle of May. I took an FSL1000 class on campus and an online English elective. I’d been dreading it, resenting the lack of “free time” I would have– but it turned out to be the best decision I made all last year. Two four-hour classes a week gave me enough of a structure to feel like a human again after months of freefall, I met some awesome new pals, and felt excited to be integrating back into life at Glendon. Online classes had seemed really daunting for someone like me, who has a flimsy attention span– but I LOVED my online class! Literature was always my first love, and a class on Healing and Fiction was right up my chronically-ill alley. Being online, class discussions took place in a forum and I found it a lot less intimidating to type out and articulate my thoughts about the amazing texts we were studying than I would have to ramble and gesticulate nervously in from of a lecture hall full of strangers. And the best part? I could watch lectures and participate in discussions from the comfort of my bed, or a family friend’s cottage, or a favourite coffee shop.
Staycation/Becoming My Own Cristina Yang
When my boyfriend went backpacking around Europe without me over the summer, I surprised and disappointed myself by being incredibly jealous. I was so used to being the person who goes places or moves away– it was the first time in my life that I had been the person who gets left behind (even only for a summer). It sounds petty and stupid because it was, but once I finally got over myself, I gained a lot from that experience too.
We’ve been dating for almost three years, and over the course of my health problems I came to rely on him a lot: to take me out when I felt well enough, to sit and watch Netflix with me when I didn’t, to tag-in when my incredible family weren’t available to drive me to hospital appointments. My confidence had taken a huge knock, many of my Canadian friends had vanished, and I relied on Mel to be my Person. With him across an ocean, I had to remember my independent self. I went to a Gatsby party at Spadina House, I hung out with my new friends, I went to the Beaches Jazzfest, I spent time with my family– I even cut off my hair. I’ve always been terrified of becoming too reliant on a significant other, so having the space to remember that I am still my own Person was so important.
Falling in Love with Laura Marling
When Mel came home from Europe, bedbug-bitten and suspended in jetlag, we celebrated by going to see a Laura Marling concert. I probably shouldn’t have dragged him out to a concert the day after he got back, but hey– I really wanted to go.
But when I commented that the girl in the queue with her pals looked like Cara Delevigne, imagine my shock when we realised it was her- and her beautiful friend was in fact St Vincent. Better still, the lanky blonde man I’d spotted outside had been Johnny Flynn; I had had no idea that he was touring with Laura Marling, but seeing them duet in the flesh was a shoe-in for top 3 live performances I’ve ever seen.
Hen Hits T.O
My friend Jen (also affectionately nicknamed Hen thanks to autocorrect) came to visit from England! I’d not seen her in a year and a half, and now she’s a fancy freelance curator (!) and I’m a not-very-fancy Glendonite. We had the best time getting excited about brunch, wandering my favourite parts of the city (Leslieville, Kensington, Queen West, The Beaches) drinking matcha matsus and watching a lot of Bob’s Burgers.
Trini-Brits, Cousins-in-Law, Best Friends and Older Best Friends in the Big Apple.
I find that sometimes the stars align and give you all the things you’re missing all at once. Earlier this year, my cousins welcomed a baby girl into the world and gave her my name (plus an extra vowel) for a middle name. The last time I saw these cousins, Isabella Jasmine’s big brother hadn’t even been born yet. The last time I saw my best friend Tom was two days before going into hospital in first year. I hadn’t seen my childhood friend Bea since we were 17, back in England, and we had both moved abroad since then.
All of these people happened to be in New York: my cousins living in Brooklyn, best boy pal starting his exchange year at Columbia, childhood pal on a two week trip around the States. So obviously, New York was where I needed to go. The city itself didn’t really place high on my list of dream destinations, but the people there were in my shortlist of all time favourites.
Plot twist: I LOVE New York City!
There’s a very special feeling that comes with being reunited with people you love. It’s a heightened awareness of the indelible marks you’ve left on each other’s lives, despite the years and the miles that separated you. We all change, but being around these kinds of people reminds us of who we’ll always be. I’ll write more about this next week, but for now all I’ll say is this: family is the most important thing in my life. I value my family above everything else. Spending time with cousins I rarely get to see, and getting to know their babies, was such a joy.
I hadn’t seen Bea in over four years, but she was a huge part of my life- and she still is. We grew up arm-in-arm, wearing matching friendship bracelets, she sent me my first ever piece of Canadian post (a birthday card that I still have in my desk) and we skyped regularly in the years we spent apart. Within seconds of meeting her outside the Met, we were frantically catching up on each other’s news and discussing the pros and cons of bikini waxing. The next day, I met Tom at the gates of Columbia University. I don’t think I told him, but as I waited for him there, I did a tiny, happy, secretive cry: I was watching one of my favourite people live out their dream. This boy came into my life because our younger sisters were friends as toddlers. We shared bus rides to and from school for years. From moving abroad, messy break-ups, hospital stays, chronic illness and beyond, he’s been steadfast in support and advice. And while I’ve gone from chaos to fiasco and back, he’s turned everything he touches to gold. My boy is an electrical engineer at Columbia, guys, and he still buys little old me ice cream and puts me on the subway at a safe hour.
After NYC, I had a brief stint in hospital with the same illness that I had in first year. I was devastated; I thought all the steps I’d taken towards recovery were for nothing. In a way, though, I got to be ill in the right way this time. In first year, I didn’t recognise how sick I was, and I waited until I physically couldn’t sit up to allow myself to go to hospital. I refused to come home after being discharged, and went back to uni, where I hallucinated through all my lectures. I cooked, cleaned, bought groceries and did my homework alone and without help. This time, I let my mum take over and make the decisions. She got me into hospital early enough that all it took was a few hours hooked up to an IV and a whole bunch of medication to bring my fever down low enough for me to go home: where my family watched over me day and night, monitoring my fever, making sure I took my meds on time, and feeding me soup. That was a month ago, and my baby steps towards recovery weren’t for nothing. I turned 22 and had the best birthday I’ve had in years, I’m going to class, I’m writing my blog, I’m seeing my friends and making new ones (shoutout to Kiera for hilarious nights out and ridiculous conversations!). It’s been a rough road, but I’m getting there.