Today’s BED11 prompt is thanks to Joanna.
What one decision (voluntary or involuntary) changed your life the most? In other words, what did you do or not do that led you on this path in life?
Joanna should really know the answer to this question – she was there. The decision that changed my life the most was moving out of my parents’ house when I was 19.
For their own reasons, my folks thought I was better off following their rules. I disagreed. In the spring of 1993, after completing my 2nd year of university, I behaved particularly badly one evening, which led to an argument between my father and I, which led to me saying, “I will get a job and move out on my own,” and him saying, “No you won’t.”
If I hadn’t made that decision, I don’t know who I would be right now. I honestly have no idea.
I got a job at a famous cheese shop and starting putting my money by for tuition and rent. I decided I would move into a house with my new university friends, Joanna and Sarah. Since Sarah was still at home in Saskatchewan, renting people golf clubs at her summer job, Joanna and I searched for a rental house. We found one at Main and 22nd Street, in the heart of what was then a very affordable neighbourhood about a 30 minute bus ride from the university. We rented the main floor for $750 a month; it had two bedrooms and a large living room that we portioned off to craft a third bedroom. And on August 1st, we moved in.
I loved that house. It had a covered porch overlooking a tree-lined street. It was across the street from an elementary school. And the house was on an angle, so if you let a marble roll from the front door, it would be at the other side of the house in less than a minute. It was two blocks from Helen’s Grill for breakfast, The Grind for 24 hour coffee and poetry, Garlane Pharmacy for random pharmaceuticals. The liquor store was a few blocks away and the Halal butcher sold the best samosas I have ever eaten.
Joanna and I continued on at school and worked part time jobs while Sarah, on a ‘dean’s vacation’ in between her first love of theatre and second love of physics (yes. that’s her story to tell, you should ask her about it) spent her time working in restaurants and coffee shops. Through one of Sarah’s coffee shop jobs I met Saint Aardvark, and a slew – a veritable SLEW – of other people I still call friends, all of whom have shaped and nipped and tucked me in ways too countless to document.
A few years on, after Joanna left us for her now-husband and Sarah and I moved into the dungeon basement suite, Sarah met Dave, whose best friend Tracy knew a guy named Jeff who owned a retail business in the West End of Vancouver. Jeff hired me to work for him and there I met his other employee, Michael, who had already met Sarah years before. (Eventually, they got married and now have several gorgeous children.)
Working for Jeff allowed me to broaden my scope beyond retail, hone the finest points of customer service, and exposed me to a LOT of culture. A lot. I also met the best Phil of all time. On my birthday! However, at its root it was still a retail job, which, after Michael left to start his own business, wasn’t nearly as fun. Eventually, I wished hard enough and Jeff sold the business. I was laid off, which is a dream come true if you don’t like your job, don’t have any dependents, and have lots of employment insurance benefits to cash in. I spent a glorious year living on that insurance and thinking about my life. That led to my first “real” job at the software company, which ended in another layoff, which led to my government job, and then babies, and me now.
Through it all, I filled notebooks and floppy diskettes and dot matrix printer paper with poems and stories, but it was my friendships with Michael (who forced me to get a hotmail account) and SA (who taught me html and is my System Administrator as well as the father of my children) that really got me hooked on writing things on this here internet, which in turn has led me to all of you.
(and thanks, Dad, for being so darn stubborn)