Lifestyles of the Poor and Infamous: Part 2

June 1, 2011 § 2 Comments

This was a good thing for me, because I knew no one in the city.

I’m at 39,000 feet above sea level again for the second time this week. The first time, I hammered out my first real blog post in three hours, and I plan on at least making it halfway through this one by the time I’m back in the city.

To help me gain some inspiration for another post, I just reread my last one. I feel like it was really drawn out, and that I ended it hastily. I also just gave myself déjà vu by writing that: I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks that I ended it hastily. I need to announce my intentions for these first few blog posts more clearly: I am trying to illustrate how I’ve come from where I come from to where I am now, before I begin posting about what I’m doing now.

I did give myself a pass by stating that I’d be devious in choosing my content, and that I would elaborate on things that I felt it necessary to explain. One of the things I feel is necessary to explain is the way I came to be living in a major urban center on the west coast of North America.

As I’d mentioned before, Tiffany and I decided to move to Vancouver together. Tiffany and I first met in my hometown in the Northwest Territories. Where I come from, when an attractive young woman moves into town, everyone notices. And not only do people notice, they get very competitive. I would usually never partake in societal norms, like courting the new girl in town, but on this occasion I was compelled from somewhere very deep within myself. I could tell that this young woman was brilliant before having even spoken a word with her. She was beautiful beyond convention, and it would be worth the trouble of suffering through the small town bullshit to get to know her. There was something about her beyond beauty and intelligence that intrigued me. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it then, but I will quote a Quentin Tarantino film and say this: “There are few things more fetching than a bruised ego on a beautiful angel.”

I found out through a friend of mine that she was working at one of the restaurants downtown. I was thrilled! I worked in a restaurant downtown, but I worked in the trendier, busier and better paying restaurant. Soon after a few public exchanges of smiles, I heard that she was in the market for a better job. Eventually, with the help of one of my girlfriends, it was arranged that I would come to the restaurant she worked in while I was on one of my breaks, in order to strike up conversation. I don’t think I can call what happened initially, “conversation,” so much as refer to it as stammering, stuttering, and especially, choking. After the first two or three minutes, I could tell I was perceived as no threat and perhaps even likable. She thought I was cute! Basically she had me at hello and I was butter melting on the barstool, and as it turns out, I had had her before we’d even met. She’d asked the same mutual friend to connect us.

We started hanging out at my sweet man pad, downtown. Because she stayed with her Dad, we would kick it at my house and watch movies and stuff like that. I was just barely 19 at the time, she was 23. I recall that on the second visit to my house, we put on a movie in my bedroom, and because I was so intimidated/impressed by and attracted to this young woman, there was at least a foot and a half of empty bed space between us on my bed. Tiffany still makes fun of me for it, because after half an hour of our feet inching towards each other’s, she led the charge and kissed me. If I could have moved any slower I would have been moving backwards. I can’t help but smile when I think about that kiss.

We were together for years, and it seems like decades to me. That might be because it was the first significant relationship of my life. It might also have been our differences in age and experience: she’d been through three years of university, and I’d never left my hometown. In the first year, we discovered some striking similarities with one another, though. One major discovery was that both of our mothers had suffered massive brain aneurysms. My mother’s aneurysm had almost killed her, and massively debilitated her for the rest of her life. Tiffany’s mother’s aneurysm claimed her life, and it was because of this loss that Tiffany had found her way to my hometown. I discovered that Tiffany was on a path: she was walking the healing path. Through Tiffany, we discovered that I was also on a path: I was walking the war path.

I was beginning to find an enemy in myself, and was battling to find high ground from which to understand my struggle more intimately. I had grown up exposed to great traumas. My family life was nothing close to conventional. I could understand concepts like racism, abuse, and addictions before I was even in school. I used to wish that my skin wasn’t brown until I was 15. Tiffany experienced some of these ugly realities early in her life as well, and promised herself that she’d never let them happen to her. She would command respect and it would be given to her. I had much to learn from her.

When we were together, I was trying to feign understanding in order to mask my conflicted inner dialogue. I was a very passionate, very jealous young man. Growing up, I’d always understood that jealousy was a way to assert intention, or to show that you care about someone. I couldn’t see that jealousy is systemic of feeling ownership, or having your ownership threatened? On the surface, the water would be calm, but I would be operating a steam works below the skin. Worst of all, I couldn’t talk to Tiffany about it because I didn’t feel like I was equipped to have that conversation with her. So I let everything that bothered me about our relationship stagnate in an attempt to suffocate it. To explain why I could become so insecure and irrational, I told her that I was in love with her while we were in a fight on her balcony, early one afternoon. It only took her 8 hours to tell me that she was in love with me, too, and she did it on a napkin at the bar we were now both working at. I was very much in love with her, and still love her. I suspect that I always will.

We went to Shambhala with our friends in 2007. It was a reconnaissance mission for me, in retrospect. I pretty much stumbled around the Kootenay acreage with a gaping smile, taking mental notes. What did I not bring that I wish I had? What did I bring that I didn’t even use? Where should we try to camp next year? What should I wear? How do I make this better? I could barely recognize myself by the end of the five days. I had adapted to be a person I had never fathomed I was capable of becoming. To try to illustrate the sentiment, I had become the person I had always wanted to be, but did not know how I had become him. I couldn’t trace my evolution from Wednesday to Monday, and this bothered me so much for worry of not being able to do it again. So much that I cried for myself on a bench in the forest with Tiffany and Allen beside me on either side.

beautiful british columbia

looking up with tears in my eyes

After Shambhala, when we all had to return to the default world, I had already lost it. And I wasn’t finding it either, no matter how hard I looked. I blamed my small, isolated community. I probably blamed a lot of things in order to spare myself the blame. Tiffany, Sean, Allen and I started living together that fall, and we were a dysfunctional bunch. Not one of us was equipped with the patience or understanding to help the others out of the very personal spirals we were all going through. My fights with Tiffany, often over jealousy, became worse and worse. My heart pains to think that at one point, I became so angry, that I actually scared Tiffany into locking me out of our apartment.

She loved me like a roaring fire, though, and wasn’t going to leave me out in the cold yet. We all survived the winter, if barely. With spring on our doorstep, and summer right around the corner, things were looking up. Winter had been very hard for Tif and I especially, but we had somehow forged this incredible love in the heat of our battles. Our relationship’s foundation had been weakened, though. It had been cracked, and we didn’t trust one another. This was the beginning of our ending.

Shambhala 2008 found me flirting with escapism. Our foundation was crumbling beneath us, and I couldn’t be around her. I felt horrible: I was running from her in a place that I should have been running to her. She was the love of my life, and my own guilt kept me from being in her proximity. I could see it damaging her, and I hated myself for it. There were enough distractions to keep myself occupied for periods at a time, but when I wanted to fall asleep with her, I couldn’t. We couldn’t leave the festival and get back on the road soon enough.

We found a two-bedroom apartment near Main and Hastings shortly after arriving in Vancouver. Tiffany found work at a nice lounge, and I couldn’t find a job to save my life. We had a little bit of fun making a home with her best friend Will, and lived together for three months. Things looked ok from the outside.

I decided to go home for six weeks over Christmas. I was going to go and work in a clothing store I had been managing until I had moved away that fall, and when I came back in January, we were going to work things out. It was going to be the most mature thing we’d ever done for each other. We were going to make it.

When I came back, things had changed so much that we weren’t going to make it. We intended to do amazing things for each other, but it was time for us to do amazing things for ourselves. We were going to have to do the most mature thing we’d ever done for the other. We let each other go.

I asked Tif to move out, because she had a strong network of university acquaintances and friends from back home, so she agreed that it was a good idea. This was actually a good thing for me, because I knew no one in the city, and was now forced to make my own life. I got a job working at a coffee shop on Commercial Drive, and started making my own friends. Before long, I was going to shows, snowboarding, experiencing the city. I hated living in Vancouver the whole time I’d been there, but after experiencing some of what I could take from the city I started to like it a little bit. It had been mind over matter the whole time.

This was about the time I made friends with the gang of young, sexy travelers on Wreck Beach. Shortly after meeting them, and I mean like two days later, I was back in the North working and living and waiting until I was finally ready to go back South for more. I had lost my job at the coffee shop on the Drive: it was during my three-month probation period that I missed a third shift as the full time opener. This was actually one of my best friends’ faults. I was let go and was forced to return home to save money and to try again, and I would. I had been given a taste, and I had developed a hunger.

This is how I first came to be living in Vancouver. Thank you for reading, and again, I’m sorry this was such a long post. I need the reader to understand my journey before I start posting content that’s current and interesting to me. There will be a couple more of these, please stay tuned!

Big ups,

ultranorthwest

miniature burning man

we build fires to celebrate the fires within us

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