This has been an extraordinary year.
I don’t know how else to put it, besides just like that. I don’t think there could even be a better word I could use to describe it.
I don’t know if the 20th year of your life is typically as such, but I do know that for me, it most certainly was. In fact, the 20th year of my life still hasn’t technically ended. That will come on April Fool’s Day (you know, the old-fashioned New Year’s Day), so there is still plenty of time for this year of my life to get even more “extra” - as the youth are saying these days. But this is being written for January 1st, the everyday persons’ New Years Day, so I’ll keep my reflection to 2017.
2017 was the great raging fire that spread to the landfill where the great dumpster fire of 2016 was dumped. When it came to following the current global events, the major headlines and stories, the year was exhausting. However, it’s quite reductionist to throw our present into an ever-consuming fire of fatalism and exhaustion. We can’t take all of these passing seconds for granted, and we can’t forget that humanity is nothing without having faith in some part of itself. For the trillions of utterly regrettable minutes lived this year, there were trillions no one would ever want to forget.
I know that for me, 2017 turned out to be quite a benchmark year. I started it fresh out of an art college diploma program and into a job with a 70% turnover rate (or so). I was living at home with my parents, I had basically no friends around to hang out with, and the simultaneous pressure of near strangers telling me to go out and “enjoy my youth”. The beginning of the year was a waiting period. I knew better things were to come. I could feel it. I was saving up for it. I got a second job and worked almost every minute I could so I could make that purgatory worth it (I say “almost”, because I’m selfish and I like to push away the bad thoughts with funny people on youtube).
A lifesaver through this time was taking an intro to stand-up course at The Second City training centre in Toronto. I had a creative outlet for writing and public speaking, the two things I wanted to do so much more than drawing at that point in time. It gave me something to look forward to every week through all the shifts, and lonely days and nights. Fun fact: When I told my manager at job #1 that I wasn’t going to be available on Thursday nights because of said lifesaving classes, she told me it was grounds for termination… but she liked me so it was okay (what a relief?).
Life went on in between work and those classes. In February I went to the Frank Turner/Arkells concert in Hamilton. For my 20th birthday, I went downtown with my friend to go to the Aquarium, eat sushi, and then see a Second City Show. The best parts were when we just talked about ourselves, and what we were going to do that summer in Halifax.
The timing of my graduation performance and the end of this purgatory couldn’t have been more perfectly timed. The performance took place on Sunday, and my flight to Stanfield from Billy Bishop was the Saturday at the end of that week. I don’t mean to brag, but after the show, I was approached by a Second City scout, who wanted me to come back on Fridays to perform. I knew that when I told him I was moving to Halifax that Saturday, it wasn’t just him that was going to be surprised. There were friends who had come to see me who were surprised too. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy that, a little bit.
Then, at the end of April, I got on a plane and crawled out of purgatory into asphodel. I was somewhere, doing something. I didn’t quite know what I was moving towards, but I knew I was happier… and for the first couple of months, I was a bit giddy on freedom. I was kind of like the 10th Doctor just after he regenerated: A puppy bouncing around, exploring, just happy to be in the universe. I wasn’t without my moments of homesickness, or existential dread, but by pure chance, I lucked into a pretty great spot.
The summer was fun. It was dramatic; a sitcom writing itself. There were twists, turns, upsets, victories, and gaping plot holes begging to be filled. To cover everything that I would want to would a) make this a lot longer than it should be and b) be very embarrassing for many parties involved, so I’ll keep it brief: I’ve never had a better summer in Nova Scotia, and I’ve spent 90% of them here already.
The main thing I’ve had an issue with is the ever-tricky question of, “Where are you from?”.
I still don’t have a simple answer for it. The number of customers that would ask me if I was local was not insignificant. It’s interesting to note that now I’ve lived here for about eight months, no one ever questions me about where I’m from.
The weirder question to answer, however, is: “Why’d you move to Halifax?”
The answer? Because I wanted to. Maybe even needed to.
My friend asked me where else I would’ve moved if it wasn’t to Halifax, and honestly, the only other answer I could think of was Ottawa. If I didn’t move closer to where my parents were born, then I might as well have moved to where I was born.
But if I had moved to Ottawa, I don’t think I’d be nearly as content as I am now. Maybe I’d be a bit less confused in certain aspects of my life, and maybe I’d have a few more friends my age to spend time with, and maybe I’d have figured out that I really want to be a teacher. However, I wouldn’t be where I am, and for better or for worse, I quite like where I am.
And so, the year endeth. And I’ll spend the last seconds of it watching my favourite film with my cat, a glass of wine, and the satisfaction that I’m here, because I’m here, because I’m here, because I’m here.
See you in 2018.
NOTE (Jan 22, 2018): Last night my pedantic mother reminded me that I was actually in my 21st year, and not my 20th- which is the case when you look at it on a calendar, however, I'm going to leave it as is because I will attribute this year to the time when I was 20, not the time when I was about to turn 21.