Friday, August 15, 2014

Further public embarrassment for the parties this is dedicated to.

I'm not the greatest friend. I'll be the first person to admit that, even if it pains me to do it.  From the early years of my life up until university, I've had a few poisonous friendships that benefited neither party. We would argue incessantly over petty things, fight over significant others, and, whether we were conscious of it or not, silently compete with each
Sally on the left, and me on the right, at her and
Danny's wedding reception on August 9th, 2014.
other's accomplishments. I would never try to blame these things on a specific one of us--we were equally to blame for the shortcomings of our friendships. Regardless, this trained me to become a pretty crappy friend.

It was in my fourth year of university that my view of friendship was about to change. I was going through a pretty difficult time--I hated my classes and was even failing a few of them. I was developing an anxiety problem that brought on sudden anxiety attacks and was experiencing depression as a result. I couldn't see an end in sight, despite being nearly finished my degree. Through all this, I met a girl named Sally in one of my classes.

To say we hit it off pretty much immediately is an understatement. The next thing I knew, she was telling me all about her boyfriend Danny and saying I should introduce Brad to him. Before long, the four of us were inseparable.

While I did have a few really good friendships early on--Brad being one of them--I never had to work through any glaring friendship problems because the friendships were rarely important enough for me to be worth it. It's a sad reality that I talk to few of those friends these days, often because our friendships, to me, just weren't worth working on. I'm not proud of that, but it's the truth. It's not always the case, of course: I do still talk to a few friends from early on, but they are the minority. Sally and I supported each other through good and bad throughout the years, and she was one of the people, along with Brad and my parents, who supported and agreed with my decision to temporarily leave university when the anxiety got to be too much. Of course, we had our differences as well, but we worked through everything in honest, open communication, and our friendship is that much stronger for it, even if I resisted it at first.

The long and short is this: over the years, I have been more than willing to work through and openly discuss any problems Brad and I may be having, and the same goes for my parents and any family members, but I haven't always been that willing to work through problems openly and honestly with friends. Sally has changed that in me, and she has inspired that change in my other friendships, as well. I haven't always cared whether friendships lasted or not. To be honest, when I was very young, I was often separated with anyone I considered a best friend, due to distance. I can confidently say that even if Sally and Danny were to move away, we'd still be in contact. I like to think that the same is the case with a number of my friendships now.

I can't write all this about Sally without saying anything about Danny, of course. Though I've had more opportunities to really bond with Sally, I feel just as comfortable with Danny, and have hung out with him readily if Sally's busy. This guy is one of the sweetest and most caring friends I've known. He'll give you the shirt off his back and do anything for a friend. I'm not exaggerating. If you're a friend in need, he will help you out. If he can't immediately help, he will find a way and look for a solution as creatively as he needs to, often enlisting other friends as well. The phrase "he has a big heart" is a little cliché and overused, but in Danny's instance, it makes perfect sense.

Why am I writing all of this about these people? Well, Sally and Danny got married on August 9th. Brad and I had gone up to Bathurst several days earlier to stay with Sally's parents for the week. I cooked meals for all six of us and helped out when I could to make preparations go more smoothly. When the wedding day finally arrived, we greeted it eagerly. What a privilege for both Brad and I to be in the wedding party, standing next to our closest friends as they pledged themselves formally to one another. Both of them were a part of our wedding party years before, as well, making our reciprocation feel that much more awesome.

This isn't a picture of just the wedding party, but of a big group of our
friends. That should tell you how much friendship means to
these guys. Sally and Danny are in the front. Photo by Kate

Part of the reason I'm writing this in the first place is because I ended up giving a speech that night. I hadn't planned on it. Sally and Danny had decided that their kissing game would revolve around friends and family telling stories about one or both of them. My speech had started off as the story of my first time meeting Sally, but the more I thought about it, the more I added. I started adding things about our friendship, things about Danny, and wishing them the best. I knew this would have to be a speech.

I have a story, but it kind of evolved into a speech, so here I am now.
Sally and I met in a third year philo course at Université de Moncton. We already kind of knew of each other, but as I sat next to her that day, I took note of a tiny Pokémon keychain on her bag. I immediately knew: I can talk to this girl. What started as in-class acquaintance bloomed into a fast friendship. The next thing I knew, I was bringing my now-husband Brad over to her house and introducing him to Danny.
Never before have Brad and I clicked so well with a couple. In the months that followed, the four of us ran the Pokémon League together for little kids. And now here we are, seven years later.
If there's one thing I can say about this couple, it is this: these two are the best friends anyone can have. They will do anything for their friends and they have so much love to give. If you count these two among your circle of friends, you have something rare and special.
Sally and Danny, you are both wonderful people, and I wish you all the happiness--though I know you'll have many happy years to come. Brad and I are so thankful to be a part of your lives.

To be honest, there was a lot more I wanted to say, but I don't think I could have gotten it out without crying--my voice cracked during this version! I didn't want to get too long, or too sappy. So, that's what's happening here. My blog has plenty of room for lengthy sappitude. Sappitude is a word I just invented.

So, this was a bit of a public embarrassment for Sally and Danny. Isn't that what friends are for? I owe a lot to these two, though, and like a couple of other recent blog posts I've made, this is just my own way of expressing my gratitude. I've grown and changed a lot as a person over the years, and the people around me have always been an influence on how that growth has manifested. I know this: my life would be a lot different if I hadn't taken note of that little Pachirisu keychain on Sally's bag that day in class. I like to think that the way my life has evolved to this point is better for that event.

I love the crap outta you guys, Sally and Danny. Congratulations on your new beginning, for the 38452th time.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

A life in flux

Why do I seem to go through periods of my life that are incredibly busy, only to come out the other side to an almost complete stillness? Why am I okay with having the answer to the "how have you been?" question be "BUSY!"? What makes me enjoy this intense process of having no free time, and then suddenly being met with an abundance of it?

I know the answer to all of these, but sometimes I will ask myself these questions anyway. I'll start to feel my sanity slowly slip away as my busy-ness consumes my life and reduces it to a schedule of "go to work, do the thing, sleep, repeat". Why do I love to torture myself?

It's actually a pretty simple response. Those intense, busy periods make for better writing. And when they're finally over, there's nothing like the week after, when free time exists again. The first day off is absolute bliss. The next thing I know, I'm out for hours-long walks and contemplating what project I'm going to work on next.

Sometimes I think I'd like to live a life that's wholly quiet, but I'd probably get bored. Instead, I'd rather enjoy the quiet moments that come while being otherwise occupied, and the ebb and flow of 3 months busy, 1 month not busy. Maybe I'll, eventually, get to take and appreciate more quiet time, but it certainly won't be anytime soon. Having a number of interests, hobbies and extracurricular activities makes for a hectic life, but it's a fulfilling one, at least.

Things are calming down a bit for me right now. I've been taking courses all through the past year and I have a full month away from them until I go back in September. Since May, I've been working on the annual Shakespeare in the Park with a group of wonderful people. We put on our final performance of the tragedy of Julius Caesar on Saturday night. That's now over, too, and while I feel satisfied, I'm also sad to be parting with these people. Every summer there seems to be this sense of camaraderie--we all become friends and go on outings together while the play is going. Then, at the end of the play, there's a dissolution. It's always bittersweet, because we rarely see each other all at once after closing night. But then, in plays to come, we'll have the inside jokes and the other little reminders. It's a brief flame, but it burns brightly.

My first day of vacation from work is today, too, and I've been spending it by finishing my final project for my class and getting ready for a small trip. What this means is that the three things really eating my time are, temporarily, done, and while they have all been utterly worth my while, I'll get to enjoy the fleeting quiet that comes from having no urgent projects or deadlines. Two of my best friends are getting married this weekend, and while I'll be busy--being in the wedding party--I plan on enjoying every minute of it, and finding any available quiet within. I've never been to Bathurst before, and my husband Brad and I plan on enjoying the trip over.

My life is about to get more hectic-- in a few ways, too, even though I'm entering a brief period of quiet. Brad and I found out back in May that we're expecting our first child, to arrive in January. I have a bit of a looming deadline: finish my degree before the baby comes. That means I'm hitting the books as hard as ever once again in September, but I'll only have two courses to complete because I worked so hard during the spring and summer. Between classes and work, I'll still be plenty busy, but there should be enough downtime in there to keep me happy. Though, auditions for the Mousetrap are in September...

What's keeping me calm lately? A few small, specific things. Slow, quiet mornings, car rides, sitting in the grass, this songMountain, and... cleaning. A messy house stresses me out, but when my life is filled with so many things, cleaning gets put on the backburner. There's nothing like taking the extra time to tidy and get rid of clutter. Though I'll only really be working in the next month, I have a lot planned for my free time. Writing is definitely one of those many things...