January 3, 2016:
LOVE. It’s a simple word. Two pairs of consonants and vowels, standing hand in hand. Everyone thinks they know what love is, but you cannot fully understand the meaning of the word without experiencing it. For me, the understanding of love began with the love from my parents. My parents and I share a mutual love for one another, but we don’t understand each other. They don’t get me. When my mother looks at me, her blue eyes shining, I can’t help but think to myself that we are nothing alike and that she will never know the depths of me. When she looks at me she simply sees a seventeen-year-old girl with a bright future ahead of her. She fails to see the pain that lingers within me each and every day.
I used to think love was having someone in your life that would always be there for you – someone who has seen you at both your best and worst. Now when I think about love, I think about how two people understand each other. Aside from the love I’ve experienced through family, I can’t say I’ve ever experienced love romantically. Yes, I’ve had boyfriends but there’s something about the way I’ve never felt fully understood or connected to someone that’s always left me with a pit in my stomach. Getting to know someone so deeply, only to find out that they never knew you at all, has been a reoccurring theme, in the story that is my life.
Happiness is another word I struggle to understand. While I have most definitely experienced moments of happiness in my life, I find that it is never a constant in my day-to-day experiences. I go to class. I go to work. I have disagreements with my parents. I’m not getting along with a friend. I feel myself spiralling downwards and it seems to be never ending. I am constantly focusing on the negative aspects in my life and I can’t get it out of my head. Some days I try to tell myself that I’m not ashamed of the pain I feel or the fact that it controls me more than I’d like, but I’m only lying to myself. I feel my agony take away my sight for a hopeful tomorrow.
January 21, 2016:
DIVORCE. A word that often expresses the destruction of a family. A word I always had expected would come into my life at one point or another. To say I didn’t see it coming would be a lie. My parent’s relationship always left me feeling anxious. I’m not sure if it was simply the fact that they so obviously did not love each other anymore but stayed together just for the sake of my brother and I while we grew up, or if it was an accumulation of things. Like myself, my parents don’t seem happy. They never have. They cover up their unsatisfying life with a smile and reassuring words that everything will be okay. All that I am sure of right now is that I don’t want my life to mirror theirs…. Mundane, tautological, mediocre.
Earlier this morning, when my parents sat my brother and I down to tell us the news, I was almost happy… Well, not quite happy, but more so relieved that the ongoing interactions in the house would no longer feel manufactured and manipulated to try and fool us into thinking everything was well. Maybe this means they will stop making excuses as to why they can’t be happy and maybe, just maybe, things will get better for me too…
February 27, 2016:
CHANGE. People tell you change is good. Maybe it is. I’ve never really experienced a big change in my life till now. My parents had always focused on keeping our household the same, instilling a seamless routine that controlled our lives. We never moved, we went on a family trip each summer, we had pancakes on Sunday’s after church, and the list goes on and on.
Next week we move. My younger brother and I are going with Mom to Los Angeles. She got a job there. Dad is staying in a little town, outside of Toronto. I don’t really know what I’m feeling. I just feel numb.
Mom thinks I’m sad to be leaving my friends, but the truth is that I won’t miss them at all. Each and every day I go to school and they fail to see the anguish I drag along behind me. I’ve talked to Jenna about my feelings a bit, but she doesn’t understand. No one does. I’ve come to the realization that I’ve always held such a high level of expectations for the people I form relationships with and I’m not quite sure why. I cultivate this sort of bubble around a person, creating images in my mind of what they will say to me, how they will react to things, what they will do for me – all the while knowing that no one would remember my birthday.
I walk around my room, monotonously packing boxes, at the same time slipping beneath the surface of reality and wanting so badly for someone to pull me back up. I stop to stare out the window of my bedroom as I watch snow, falling gently to the ground, as people walk on the sidewalk below. I stand there for a moment, paralyzed. There’s nothing like watching the darkness of the night, slowly fading into a sheet of soft white. If there is one thing I’ll miss about my life in Canada, it’s the snow.
March 17, 2016:
PAIN. It’s always there. Some days are better than others. Sometimes when I sit on our porch, with the sun beaming down on my skin, it hurts a little less.. but it’s still there. I’ve been in Los Angeles for a few weeks now and I’ve made a few friends at school. Not that I want any. I engage in pointless conversations with the girls at school more so because Mom will worry if I don’t have anyone to mention at the dinner table. I really have no interest in high school friendships though. Every girl is the same – impeccably manicured and putting on their best face to fool people into thinking that they are perfect. I’ve always been a little different from the rest of them; maybe that’s why I’ve never had a friendship that’s lasted more than a few years.
Every morning I run. I run down my street, through trails, by the ocean. I’ve been running and running, gasping for air when I know very well that the kind of relief I’m after will only come from confessing the troubles that stem from within me. I need someone to listen. Not just to hear the problems rolling off my tongue, but to understand what I’m going through.
April 25, 2016:
WATCHING. There is always someone watching what you do. I don’t often pay attention to those around me but I continually feel as if someone has their eyes on what I’m up to… Most days after school, before coming home, I would walk down to the Pier. Once I arrived I would sit on one of the swing sets, swinging back and forth, watching people passing by. I never noticed how much I was missing, until I took the time to really look into another person’s life from the outside – even if it was only for a few seconds.
Most people were happy, going on a picnic with their family, taking a stroll with a friend – but I also watched many homeless people and beggars walk by, drowning in self-pity as they took another swig from their flask.
Ever since moving to Los Angeles I had more encounters with those less fortunate, than ever before. Yes, there were the insanely rich celebrities up in Calabasas and Hollywood, but the city – downtown Los Angeles, consisted of those who didn’t make it, those who have no place to go, no family to turn to. Every time I saw one of them I was filled with a deep sadness. Not because I pitied their lifestyle, but because I could only imagine how misunderstood they must feel. Probably more misunderstood than I have ever felt.
I walked up to a woman, sitting on an old, tattered blanket and asked her to tell me her story. I sat beside her listening intently; hoping that hearing all she had been through would be enough to make my problems feel obsolete. It didn’t. I still felt as the world around me was swallowing me whole.
June 20, 2016:
FRIENDSHIP. I’d like to think that friendship consists of people who find solace in each other’s company and can share experiences, no matter where they are in their lives. I never had a friendship as true as the one I have with Henry. We met earlier this year when I had only been in L.A. for a few months. When we met I was having a bad day, similar to most. I was feeling detached from myself, choking on my own pain. I drove to a quiet espresso bar and slipped beneath hot water for the later of the day. I was sitting alone when he approached me. He started talking, the conversation continuing for hours. We eventually left, walking to the parking lot under a starless sky. He told me he would see me soon, but I didn’t think he meant it.
We ended up meeting again tonight. The air was cool and the streets pulled me along with a sort of quiet excitement, sharing its secrets and begging to hear mine. We walked through a hiking trail, finding ourselves at a spectacular lookout. I looked down at the world, dappled with multicoloured lights and when I took a breath I was able to imagine a happier place in this world.
August 3, 2016:
GROWTH. The development and maturation of one’s self. The undeniable change within a person. Henry helped me get to this place in my life. We didn’t talk much but it was never awkward. We would often sit beside each other, feeling one another’s presence, knowing that we both had someone we could lean on.
The summer has been going by quickly. Henry and I found new adventures each and every day, or night I should say. Most of our time spent together is when the sun has set and our deepest thoughts emerged.
One night that stands out in particular for me is the night we snuck up to the Hollywood sign. We were lying side by side in the second ‘O’, watching the lights from the city, twinkle like the stars that were blocked by the city fog. As I sat there listening to Henry speak, I realized why we had immediately felt so connected. People run away from fire, yet he had always run towards it. His strength brought out a different side of me. He made me feel like I could face my fears and put out the fire that burned so ferociously within me.
While my friendship with Henry changed my perspective, my real growth stemmed from my increasing awareness of my individuality. Slowly but surely, once I began to recognize I didn’t need to rely on others for my happiness, everything changed. I had been searching much too long for someone who could fix me, when all along there was nothing to be fixed. I woke up one morning and my world was just … different.
September 27, 2016:
BLISS. I never would have thought I’d be feeling this emotion a few months ago. Sure, I had moments of happiness since coming to L.A. but it took months for me to feel this way. I had been spending more time alone and actually enjoying it.
I decided to skip school today and go on an adventure by myself. I hopped in Mom’s beat up red Volkswagen and drove aimlessly for a few hours until I stumbled upon the most beautiful field of sunflowers I had ever seen. The colours of the leaves, trees and sky shone brightly, while the yellows of the sunflowers popped vibrantly for what it seemed was miles. I watched as the wind blew the flowers gently, swaying back and forth. I began walking through one of the rows, eventually moving faster and faster until I was running. I stretched my arms outward as I felt the sun beam down on my skin, creating a warmth like no other. Once I was far enough into the field that all I could see were the flowers and grass around me, I suddenly stopped, spinning round and round, looking up to the sky. I closed my eyes and thought about how everything in my life had changed. I had changed my life. I changed my state of mind. It wasn’t a quick process but I could feel myself the past few months slowly becoming happier. I no longer felt the constraints of negativity weighing down on my every step and was so full of happiness.
I came to a halt, feeling my head turn from spiralling round and round. I leaned backwards and I began to fall. Time seemed to stand still as I felt my body collapse upon the soft, green grass below. I opened my eyes one at a time revealing the soft blue sky with clusters of clouds above. I stayed there for what seemed was hours, breathing in the fresh air, thinking about how far I had come. For so long I had carried with me a false sense of reality, engaging in relationships that were no longer serving me and choking on the pain of my uninspired life. I finally realized that the day I left the place in my mind where I thought I had belonged, where I thought I could not escape, was also the day I arrived at myself.
December 31, 2016:
MYSELF. The perception I’ve held of myself this past year has changed dramatically. I had been searching, much too long for something that wasn’t there, because I already had everything I needed… and that was enough.