The last summer I went to the University of Guelph, I got a job videotaping horse shows: an opportunity that presented itself.  I traveled to Ottawa, Edmonton, and Southampton, New York.  In between trips, I edited the videos for sale.  I enjoyed the technical nature of the job.  It was something different from anything I’d done before.

While I was down in New York, my father became ill and went into the hospital.  My mom decided not to tell me until after I returned home.

After what seemed a great start at Guelph, I faltered.  My second serious relationship ended as a result of the third.  I know: it was evil, and I’m sorry for all the pain I caused everyone involved, but it just happened.  Lame excuse, but it’s true.

That was the kind of life I led, or followed, in those days.  I let things happen, or not.  There was no thought that I had a role to play in directing events, making choices.  Evil and pain were my legacy because I did nothing to stop them from happening.  If an opportunity presented itself, I would go with it.  I was a passive observer.  I lived like a victim.  I had to sort things out but I didn’t know where to start.

So I turned my attention back to my crisis-in-waiting.  What did I really want to do and could I afford it?  The specter of the starving artist loomed.  So I got a job at Coles, moved to Toronto, and started working through things.

After a few months, I quit Coles.  You’d have thought I’d really love it there.  I thought that too, but it wasn’t to be.  My parting with Coles resulted from irreconcilable differences bred of personality conflict and my own passivity. No surprise there.

A data-entry job at a food importing company was next and a move from Downsview to High Park.  Another few months went by and I moved to Mississauga.  I got a second, part time job at a veterinary clinic, ended up quitting the data entry job, and worked at the clinic full time.  When I was a kid, one of my aspirations was to be a veterinarian and I was sure that I would one day own a farm.  So the clinic seemed perfect.  It was.  I’ve honestly never felt happier working anywhere else.

I broke up with boyfriend number three, but couldn’t afford to move out.  It was awkward, but I worked evenings and he worked days.  We moved around each other, wounded and wounding.

To stay out of the house as much as I could, I started taking swimming lessons, eventually culminating in becoming a certified lifeguard.  I biked and walked everywhere.  In short, I lost a lot of weight.  I was never healthier.  I took a correspondence course in creative writing, tried to learn French, and signed up for high school science courses that I’d managed to skip at Lockerby.  I got my wisdom teeth removed.  Then I started looking at next steps.

I considered returning to Guelph, going to another university to finish my degree, or doing something completely different and becoming a tradesperson (there was a new incentive grant for women in the trades at the time).

I looked at becoming a veterinary technician (hence the high school science courses).  Ultimately though, I didn’t have the financial resources to stay in Mississauga (or anywhere else) on my own and so moved home to Sudbury and back in with my parents.  Laurentian it was.  English degree it was.  My plans were set by circumstances again, but this time, I had a goal: my intention was to complete my degree and to focus on becoming the best writer I could be.

Of course, as soon as I made that determination, I met the man that would become my husband.  So much for plans 🙂

Lost your way? Stanton Peak, Derbyshire

Lost your way? Stanton Peak, Derbyshire (Photo credit: Thomas Tolkien)

Everyone gets lost on the way.  It’s part of the process.