Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!

Turn and face the strange…

We’ve been on a rollercoaster ride of major life changes this year. I look at my life back when 2019 started and don’t even recognize it anymore. We went to a New Year’s Eve bash with friends and had the best time. I burst through the front door of my beautiful condo in the city, with loud post-party rambunctious energy at 4am feeling on top of the world. You know that feeling when the new year is only 4 hours old and stretches ahead with endless possibility? That’s how I felt. I was happy and appreciative for all of the good things in my life: a wonderful marriage, fabulous career, lovely friends and family, and my special little kitten prince to dote on. I loved everything I worked so hard to make happen for myself with boundless ferocity. I knew that this was exactly what I wanted. I was where I wanted to be and everything was perfect. If I could freeze that day in time and live it in perpetuity, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, that’d be just dandy.

But life doesn’t work that way. You don’t get to freeze it in one spot. You have to keep moving, keep growing and aging and changing as time passes alongside you. So we took a trip.

We went to Chicago at the end of January to celebrate our anniversary. Yes, that’s right. Chicago. The windy city. The windiest city some might say. The coldest, windiest city possible in the middle of winter.

It was so much fun! We explored the city Ferris Bueller style, with carefree abandon and precocious ardour. I’ve always felt that my relationship with D has a very Ferris and Cameron dynamic, so it was the perfect trip for us. The Ferris in me always pushing the Cameron in D to forget about responsibility and just have fun. To go on zany offbeat capers and see where they take us. To consume as many memorable life experiences as possible, sampling everything at the buffet. The Cameron in D fussing and worrying, reminding me to think things through first and plan ahead.

I said “Chicago!”

He said “I’ll take care of it.”

And he did. Booked our flights, found the hotel, did the paperwork, found someone to watch Harv while we were away. I plotted our caper. Teamwork!

We had lots of time together on that trip to talk and plan and think about where our life together was heading. But in the spirit of Ferris Buellering, it was only light, tentative conversation.

A couple months later, in March, we went to dinner. We went to one of my favourite Toronto spots, the Lakeview. There we had a more serious conversation. There we decided next steps. There we decided to start a new journey.

A few weeks later in April, I was pregnant. I told D on April Fools’ Day and I wasn’t fooling. We were so excited, but also in disbelief too. That took hardly any effort at all. I told D that from what I’ve heard it can be a bit of a grind and might not happen right away. But he felt differently. For the first time ever he wasn’t overly concerned with planning and worry because he felt absolutely certain we’d have no trouble at all. It seemed the universe agreed with him because all of a sudden we were expecting.

So now I panic.

We need a bigger place! We can’t have a baby in a one bedroom condo, there’s no space!

We call our realtor, talk about what we’re going to do. Should we list our place? Should we move out of the city? The weight of this decision bearing down heavily on my heart. I love my city, I love my home, I don’t want to leave. But, we need to and ultimately I understand that it’s the best thing for our growing family.

So we get the ball rolling when I’m a bit farther along, to be safe. We make plans to have the condo staged at the end of May and listed at the very start of June.

The day we’re all scheduled to stage the condo, literally five minutes before the stagers are scheduled to show up, I start bleeding. Upset I call a cab to get to the ER. D can’t come with me, the stagers will be here any minute. He kisses me on my way out the door and tells me not to worry, it’ll be okay.

I’m at the ER for 7 hours. Multiple ultrasounds and tests. Crying and worrying and waiting all alone, silently begging my little baby to hang on, stay with me.  I see baby moving on the monitor, I feel a bit better, but still upset. I leave the hospital with a live pregnancy.

I come home to a completely unrecognizable home. All of our furniture gone. New trendy staging furniture in it’s place. I’m not sure where to go or what to do. It doesn’t feel like my home. I break down and cry to D and he comforts me. He orders pizza, that’s the right thing to do any time. Pizza is home. We go to bed physically exhausted, emotionally drained.

1:30am. I wake up in excruciating pain. I’m bleeding again and I know that this is it. This is the inevitable miscarriage, I’m losing my baby. 12 weeks in already, baby the size of a plum according to an app I’d been using. So close to the second trimester. So close to telling our family and friends…

Devastated doesn’t even begin to express what I felt.

And there isn’t even time to really think about it at all. The condo is listed and we have 65 viewings over the next 6 days. We’re constantly getting new requests for viewings, having to get out of the unit, get Harv out of the unit. One day we had 13 straight hours of viewings in a row. There was no time to think, let alone grieve.

Then on Monday night we’re taking offers. I’m freaking the fuck out. I can’t believe we’re selling our place, the beautiful condo I’ve loved living in, my home. And for what? No baby, not any more. What if I can’t have a baby? What if we’re selling this place for no reason? Toronto will always be a valuable market. Let’s pull the plug, accept nothing, stay here forever just us and Harv. We don’t have to move, we don’t have to leave. It can just be us and the city and we’ll be happy, we can be happy. D is upset, we’ve gone to all this trouble. It’ll be okay if he can just calm me down and get this process dealt with. He talks me off the ledge temporarily, we accept an offer. We’ve sold it, we’re moving, the ink is dry.

I’m supposed to be excited about this, but I’m not. I just feel panicked because now we’re homeless. Now we need to find a new place to live IMMEDIATELY because I’m freaking the fuck out again. People say stupid, unhelpful things like “you can just rent a place if you don’t find something else before closing.” NO. That is unacceptable. I will not let my entire life slide into house hunting limbo for who knows how long.

We forge ahead and start looking. I’m very aggressively looking at every new listing our realtor sends. D has to go away for work for a week, that’s precious house hunting time lost and I cannot have that. I spend the week that he’s away being sad by myself but also looking for houses. I get on a train out of the city and go to some open houses on my own. I find something interesting that hasn’t been in our listings.

A free-hold townhouse. We’ve been looking at detached homes, but this could work. I call D that night and tell him I think I found something special. There are actually two townhouses side by side for sale on the same court. We setup an appointment to go see both together with the realtor when he’s back in the city. D doesn’t like the idea of a townhouse, he’s not into it. We go into the first one, the one I already saw and D’s interest is piqued. He admits this is a special place. It’s not perfect, but he can see why I liked it enough to come back. We go next door to see the other one, the one I haven’t seen in person yet. The moment we walk through the door, D’s opinion has changed. He’s seeing through new eyes. He’s seeing something special. Character. Charm. Our home.

We make and offer, a little back and forth negotiation and the deal is done. We bought a house!

The two months before our closing date on the condo, our big move stretches out endlessly before me. These are my last months to enjoy living in Toronto. But I don’t enjoy it. All of the grief and sadness I’ve been putting off dealing with come crashing back down around me. I’m recovering from the miscarriage, letting my body reset, but I’m dying on the inside every single day and putting on a brave face to the outside world. Smiling when I see my friends. Telling them I’m excited about the sale and the move. Acting like I haven’t lost the most important thing I ever had. Acting like idiotic comments from clueless family members about how our niece who arrived earlier this year needs a cousin don’t stab me right in the soul. Suffering internally, but forcing myself to keep shining externally.

I didn’t even try to have a last hurrah in the city before we moved. I just buried myself in prep for the move and kept pushing ahead. We moved, that’s that, no looking back.

And for the first little while that was fine, there was lots to do at the new house, lots to get done. We spent some time figuring out life in the ‘burbs and adjusted.

D didn’t feel the loss the same way I did. He was upset too, but not nearly to the same extent. He didn’t get to see the tiny budding life on the hospital monitor that I did. He didn’t see the heart still beating and feel an impossible surge of hope. A part of his body, of his very being wasn’t suddenly ripped away too soon. He was very supportive though and comforted me as much as he could. He stayed optimistic, he knew loss was part of the process and he wanted to try again. I didn’t know if I could, I didn’t know if I was ready. But I knew it would be okay if we didn’t force it; if we just did that thing people do when the mood is right and let biology decide.

A warm sunny day in September there was a curious feeling in the back of my brain. I went and got the pregnancy test I had stowed away. I didn’t even have to look, I just knew. It was the same feeling as the first time, it would be a positive result.

I was happy, but I didn’t let myself get too happy. Now I knew how easily this could all be taken away and how much it would hurt if it was. As the weeks moved forward without any issues I started to accept it. This one was happening, this one would make it. The closer we got to the second trimester, the more I believed. Finally we got to the point where we could tell people and everyone is so happy for us. My belly gets bigger every day, my appetite gets bigger every day, and my love gets bigger every day too.

It’s been a hell of a year. Looking back to January 2019, I was having the time of my life. Eating deep dish pizza in Chicago, feeling like that was the absolute best life would ever be. I had no idea it would be one of the most challenging and transformative years of my life to date.

Other noteworthy changes:

  1. I did Invisalign this year and am now rocking a wonderful new smile
  2. Hosted a baby shower for the first time ever for my sister – we had a crazy amount of food!
  3. Our beautiful niece Vanessa arrived in March making D and I Aunt and Uncle for the first time
  4. We bought a new car! We call him Lou, he’s super cool
  5. My mom’s dog B passed away in the summer, it’s still sad when we visit and she’s not there to greet us
  6. I took driving lessons, passed my G2 road test and now I’m driving the new car by myself – I’m an excellent driver btw
  7. I DIY’d a bunch of shit like a boss. Repainted some furniture and our fireplace too
  8. BFFs Hoben and Shan got married and we were both in the wedding party. Handcrafted many fine dick decorations for the bachelorette, my finest work to date some have even said
  9. Saw Modest Mouse and The Black Keys in the fall (it was baby’s first concert too!)
  10. Hosted our first ever family Thanksgiving dinner at the new house, D cooked the turkey perfectly

We’ve had a lot going on, and I think that’s okay. I don’t expect 2020 will be any less eventful with a new baby on the way. It’ll be another year of huge life changes, but I’m ready for it.

Turn and face the strange.

A new ‘do!

Well, I guess I’m pretty average in this regard. Just another of many new brides who decided to make a big hair change shortly after the nuptials were done. But so what, right? I’ve been thinking about it for a while now and it just made sense. So I went for it. Fortune does favour the bold, or so I’ve heard.

Recently, my friend The Magpie was telling me about the time she got bored during a snowstorm in the late 90’s and decided to let her boyfriend shave her head. And then to make it really pop, she bleached the remains a gnarly shade of blind-you-in-an-instant blonde. That’s way too drastic to be considered bold though; that’s downright berserk! But that’s just how she rolls. I roll way more tamely when it comes to my hair.

I had scheduled my cut before hearing that story, and I was still hedging a little. But when I walked in and saw my hairdresser rocking a svelte, shaved, bleached blonde ‘do of her very own, I knew it was a sign from the universe. I heard the call, it was time for me to be bold, make a change, do something unexpected. Time for a new spin on classic Smash.

my new 'do!

It’s short, you guys! I haven’t worn my hair short in a very very long time. I would say, probably not since grade 9? When I rocked a really unfortunate afro. Short + perm = a real bad look for me. Yeah, don’t get your hair cut or permed in your mom’s friend’s basement. Especially not when it’s 2001 and she’s still sporting a majorly teased and immovable dome of 80’s horror hair.

But this time around I was in much better hands and I was feeling spontaneous. I didn’t tell D I was doing it either. I didn’t tell anyone. I just wanted to be independent and do my own thing.

And I couldn’t be happier!

For comparison, here’s my old mop on St. Patty’s this year.

old 'do!

It was long, and unruly, and difficult. It was holding me back.

I feel better now. I’m feeling sleek, modern, and cool. Easy breezy. A hipper, bolder Smash for the next half of this decade.

partaaay hair

D was surprised at first. And when I rolled into work on Monday my pal The Magpie was floored. So far the reviews have been rave. But most importantly of all, I feel fucking fantastic.

Change is good. Fortune has definitely favoured this bold soul.

September

Do you remember the 21st night of September?

It’s that time of year again. You know, when summer fades into fall. The goose bumps that populate your arms as you step out the door on a dubiously sunny morning are telling you to ditch the flip-flops and sundresses in favour of something warmer. It’s the time of year for apple orchards, puffy outdoorsy vests, plaid of all sorts, knit hats, new backpacks, and most importantly, it’s a time for change.

There’s something afoot during the last couple of weeks of September that always makes me feel wistful. Especially when I hear that old Earth Wind & Fire song, aptly titled September. Hearing this song actually happens more often than you might think, because of my proclivity for 70’s internet radio when I’m hungover.

September is the most significant month of the year for me. My personal calendar year begins in September. January doesn’t mean a thing to me. Resolutions and all the crap, whatever. It’s still winter, it’s still freezing and dark out. But September brings with it a drastic change in seasons, and has often wrought drastic changes in my life.

All of my most precious memories are captives of September. When I hear this song a little movie of all those wonderful things starts playing in my mind. I’m transported back in time, and I remember…

I remember meeting two of the most important people in my life:

Then a year later, being lucky enough to add another wonderful person into our fold:

I remember living alone, completely unsupervised for the first time in my life:

And all the excellent keggers we were able to have, unfettered by parents and rules:

I remember my first lifetime ban from a bar after I draught ‘n’ dashed with Joce-force. Then laughing uncontrollably while hiding out from “the po po” in the bushes:

There were two roomie birthdays at the end of the month, both Jenna and Whit:

And how epic all of our celebrations were when the last roomie finally turned 19 and could ditch the fake I.D.

I remember shotgunning beers at 9:00am for homecoming!

I remember having school spirit:

Discovering that Bigfoot truly does exist, and how bold his hands were:

I remember falling in love…

After graduation, when it was time to grow up, I remember getting my first job. A real crack at a career:

I remember that I’m brave:

I took my very first flight, all the way to the Middle East! Completely on my own in a new country, with no prior travelling experience.

And I remember feeling complete fulfillment in my job and being humbled by the realization that I was making a difference in the lives of others:

And most importantly of all, I remember…

Dancing in September!

Oh the memories, so sweet! Such an amazing thing to have when you’re not having the brightest of days…

I love that song, and I love the flood of memories it brings. It  is my reassurance that I’m doing a real kick-ass job at this “living” thing. No matter what changes and where this life takes me, I will always have: the most spectacular friends, my darling D, and a deep-seated passion to live a remarkable life.

And if all this is what’s behind me, then I can’t wait to see what else is coming my way. It can only get better from here.