City (not my best work here)

I have lived in the same city for most of my life. We came here when I was a little one (16 months old), and my parents have lived in the same house in the suburbs ever since.

 

Through university, I lived at home, and then moved into a shitty apartment downtown once I started working. I moved into a second, better, apartment nearly a year later, and lived there for three years until I moved in with my now-husband, back in the suburbs.

I’ve been at the same office for nearly eight years, and a girl I went to elementary school with for about a minute started here a few months ago. We ran into one another, and she sort of laughingly asked me if I still lived in the suburbs where we both lived back in the day. I explained that no, I was one surburb over now – not exactly a grand achievement, on paper – and it definitely felt to me like she thought less of me because I hadn’t gone off and lived somewhere grand for a period of time.

And sure, the city where I live is often referred to as “the city that fun forgot” (if google that, it’s pretty easy to figure out where we are, especially after John Oliver reported on our Ashley Madison scandal not too long ago). And while there are things I dislike about here – our winters, for example – I’ve done fairly well here. I have a good job, I have a good husband, a good home, two great children, family and friends…

There are pluses to my city, too. I left my purse at a Starbucks when I was pregnant with my son, and when I came back to grab it, it was still there, completely intact — the gentleman who found it simply put it up higher so I’d see it again. We’re generally pretty polite and friendly to one another, and I feel safe just about everywhere in my city, regardless of the time of day or night.

The city is medium-sized, which makes it easy enough to navigate, and there are usually multiple options for things. If a movie isn’t playing at a good time at one movie theatre, chances are it’s playing at another. A book isn’t in stock at this Chapters? There’s a good chance another one has it. Coffee stores are prevalent, there are lots of good restaurant options, we have really lovely walking trails, lots of great festivals, activities for the kids…

And while I do have a longish commute to get to my job, it’s not nearly as bad as some people do. And our transit system is pretty reasonable, so I can take the bus to and from work. I have a backyard my kids can play in, and space to get away from everyone if they’re driving me crazy.

Maybe it’s not the most exciting city, but it’s where I call home.

Post le 2000

The other night, I went for a massage and as usual for me, spent a bunch of time talking. I started seeing this particular massage therapist when I was about five months pregnant, and have continued seeing her because I think she’s awesome and I can make her laugh. And I love making people laugh (ideally not at me, but sometimes I’ll take that, too).

Somehow, I got to relating stories about what I was like in high school, and how ‘fashionable’ (huge t-shirts and jeans, baggy sweatshirts, shorts that I usually wear for sleeping in) I was and how obnoxious I could be. I even told the story of what I did the day I went to back to school after we had our cat, Sookie, put to sleep.

And the amazing thing about it all was that I don’t really remember caring that much about what I wore, or how I looked, or what other people thought of me. To a point, of course, since I’m a neurotic little thing and I tend to take things to heart too much sometimes, but for the most part, I think I wore what made me happy and it didn’t really matter if it was flattering or not. And I acted how I pleased, and somehow still had friends, and hopefully was a good friend in return.

When I was in elementary school, I used to read all the time — to the exclusion of spending time with friends sometimes — and I got picked on for being smart, and I chose to make some adjustments. When I went to high school, it was a different one than most of the kids I’d gone to school with up to that point, and it allowed me to change who I was and figure myself out a bit. I think being in music helped significantly; I got to be a medium-sized fish in a medium-sized pool, which is a position that still seems to work for me, and I got to figure out who I was.

Of course I went overboard, as I think most of us do, but that’s what happens when we’re hit with hormones and boyfriends or girlfriends and a bit more freedom and so on.

And then I got out of high school and went to university, where no one cared who you were so long as you weren’t the annoying one in the class, and I started working more real jobs and doing more serious dating and learning more (and adopting two cats).

And eventually, I started working a career job, and I met my husband (and a false start or two later we started dating), and then we eventually bought a house, got married, bought a car, had a baby, and now I’m back at my career job.

Before I left, I had a real fire about my job, and I put in tons of overtime and I did my best and got really really worked up about things and let people get under my skin and was probably a giant pain in the ass more often than people are willing to admit.

But one thing that being away from the office has done for me is that it’s helped refine my sense of perspective. I’m not at all claiming that having a baby has made me a better person or any of that stuff, but just getting to be out of the office world for a year has really been healthy and helpful for me. Now, people don’t seem to get under my skin the same way, and I don’t really get riled up about anything — at least, not yet. Maybe I’m still in a fog. I’m sure that having the baby has helped me develop more patience, but I think that it was the break from it all that helped more than anything. Certainly when I left I was full of terror and hormones, and that’s gone, so I’m sure that’s also an aid.

And on another note; I still sometimes feel weird about referring to myself as a mom, because on some levels I still can’t seem to process the fact that I actually did have a baby. I have a digital frame on my desk that rotates pictures of her, and I think of her throughout the day and look forward to seeing her when I pick her up, but sometimes it feels like she’s still an abstract concept and not a reality that I’ve been dealing with for almost a year.

I do sometimes try to picture how the baby might/will see me through her eyes. I know how I see my mom and my family, and I try to imagine us from her perspective, and I find it super-trippy, but also kinda cool.

There were so many days when I was out with her in her stroller that I just felt like a teenager with a kid; I didn’t feel like a grown-up who’s now responsible for another human being. Even coworkers of mine who are close in age to me — hell, our neighbours, who are the DH’s age are part of this — seem like grown ups that I should go to when I’m confused about something. I’m still waiting for someone to flip that switch on me that turns me to grown up.