HFD

Every time I sit at the lights on Bay & Gore, I think of when you'd pick me up from work; hands gripping the steering wheel, shoulders tight.
"Ready, Miré?"
"Ready!"
Green up, foot down - just to see if you could get to the next set before it turned yellow.
I loved that moment.

The light was too short; it still is. I hope it always is.

Oftentimes, I look out my kitchen window and think about 5:00am, the winter I bought my house. Rubbing my eyes, padding my way into the room, peering through the blinds.
You shoveled my driveway before leaving for work, so that I wouldn't have to.

You would have done anything for me.

Sometimes, I look down at my pigeon-toed feet, and picture them at two years old (you swore I was two-and-a-half, but the neighbour "him" said I was two!), shoved into a pair of rubber boots, my face smeared with dirt, chewing gum like a 16-year-old Heather.
Following you around like your 30-inch tall, doe-eyed shadow.

I would have followed you anywhere. I still would.

I think about shortly before you left us, when you didn't speak much, but asked me if you could have a cookie, and I felt my heart break.
I think about the fact that you never got to go home again, and I promise that I will go for you someday.
I think about how you didn't get to know my favourite person before you left. You'd love him. And he shovels my driveway.

You must know that I am still inspired by you every single day; to be a kinder, less selfish, more hard-working, and truly thankful person.

I am so lucky to have known you.
I am so lucky that all you cared about in this world was us.

I miss you. I love you. Happy Father's Day.

untitled

My recollection of it is hazy, but my mother tells me that, as a very young child, I was a great worrier of that which I could not control; namely world peace. I'd ask her "why does there have to be war? Why don't people just get along?"
I'm still confounded by this every day of my life, albeit with a (somewhat) clearer understanding of the world.

I've always been a fearful person - fearful of the effects of war, of crowds, of heights and the dark and death and what the cashier is thinking when I'm taking too long to put my debit card back in my wallet and grab my bag and leave the store...
(okay, that last one is pretty clearly more awkwardness than it is fear, but you get it)

Some of my fearfulness is inherent, some the way I was raised, some a product of the circumstances of the current state of affairs. And, while it's certainly not lost on me, the idea that fear and worry are a waste of energy is difficult to adopt as an actual thought process. It's easy enough to TELL myself that worrying about what the political climate may do to us is not going to help the situation, or my dealing with it, but it's not exactly easy to turn that switch off.

What I've found that I can do, though, is at least focus on what doesn't worry, upset, or instill fear in me: today's first snowfall (which was beautiful), the clicking of my dog's paws on the hallway floor as he greets me at the door after work everyday, all the 'good morning's from my coworkers, Jordan's eyes, curling up in the blanket that Vanessa made for me...

My friends.
My family.
That I get to be whoever I want to be.

Despite the fears, worries, and anxieties that I will probably always carry with me, I also wake up knowing that there is good in everyone, and there is good in every day.
How lucky am I? :)

why I'm here.

I was sitting in the back entrance of my parents' bungalow, cross-legged on the mat, pencil poised. I leaned toward the screen of the storm door, and pressed my nose against it.

"Daaaad?"
"What?"
"How do I spell 'Jon Bon Jovi'?"

I was eight years old, and writing my first short story. Though I'd titled it "Melissa and the Terrible Day", it was in NO WAY a story about my older sister, because her name is spelled with two Ls.

No, MeLissa was purely a figment of my imagination. I was living vicariously through her in ways, as she lived in an apartment (which I secretly wished for), and had an older brother (a thing I knew was impossible, but wanted anyway).

Over the years, I lived vicariously through a lot of my fictional characters, having always written from the perspective of a girl. They were often plain in most ways, but also beautiful and witty, and the object of affection of someone amazing. Writing was the way out of my world; some people played a sport, some an instrument, some took dance lessons... I read, and I wrote.
And for a shy, relatively unremarkable young girl to be able to create whatever and whoever she wanted? Well, that was just the bee's knees!

I took a hiatus from writing for many years after university and, it took a long time for me to realize it, but I'd created a huge void in my life. I'd forgotten how much writing calms me, helps me to be reflective, and often times, helps me to heal.
I resolved to begin writing again several months ago, in whichever form felt right.
And so, here we are. Here you are! Thanks for reading. :)

PS in case you were wondering (and I'm sure that you were), I needed to know how to spell 'Jon Bon Jovi' because Melissa's older brother had a poster of him on the ceiling above his bed.
Detail is everything.

find out what it means to me.

Jordan's eyes were closed, and the light shining from the nightstand lamp rested on his face. I reached over, tugged at the sleeve of his t-shirt, whispered "Hey. Just one thing."
We were about a month into our relationship, and determining that this was going to be something. Something real.

"Mmhmm," he replied, lazily.

"If you... just... you know, if you decide you don't like me, or don't want to talk to me anymore or whatever... you have to let me know.'

His eyes flew open, and he turned to me quickly. "What? What are you talking about?"

"I mean, don't just... stop talking to me. Or just cheat on me. Please. Just tell me. You have to tell me."

What followed was a (much deserved) explanation of what the hell I was talking about. And what I was talking about was pain. A hard-to-dismiss and dulled kind of pain that someone else has burdened you with. Because after the time has passed, and the person is gone, and you know full well that you are better off... after all that, some things stick. Maybe for always.

I was 21 the first time I really felt this kind of pain, and I felt it immensely, and in a way that I will never forget. To say I am over what happened is true. To say I've more than moved on is true.  But to say that a part of me will never fully be repaired is also true.

When we are struck by something tragic, hurtful, perhaps unexpected, I think something in us is forever changed. It doesn't mean that we will never get past it, or be able to feel 'whole' again. But I believe the part of us that has been sewn shut can tear open again. Especially if we feel that same pain again.

We do this to each other, human beings. We harm each other in all sort of ways; sometimes purposely, sometimes due to a lapse in judgment. And it comes down to respect.

When I think back now on the ways that I have been hurt (not just in a relationship, but in all areas of my little world), it is so clear to me that, apart from all else, this kind of pain has been a result of someone else's utter disrespect. When this initially occurred to me, I felt a weight lift in my understanding that this was a fault in someone else's make-up. But even understanding this doesn't quite sew that damaged area shut for good. Maybe nothing ever will.

But its been more than a year since I tugged on Jordan's sleeve and, pretty early on, I began to feel something that I never had before. What I see in Jordan's eyes, and in his actions, is that he admires me, is encouraging of me, and truly wants the best for me. I am respected.

And that makes me feel like I can turn off the lamp, close my eyes, and just go to sleep.

green eyes.

I could write a lot of words about you, green eyes, but I think this sums it up more perfectly than I ever could. xo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-dNV3DMrJE

Green Eyes
Coldplay

Honey you are a rock
Upon which I stand
And I come here to talk
I hope you understand

That green eyes
Yeah the spotlight, shines upon you
And how could anybody deny you

I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter
Now I met you
And honey you should know
That I could never go on without you
Green eyes

Honey you are the sea
Upon which I float
And I came here to talk
I think you should know

That green eyes
You're the one that I wanted to find
And anyone who tried to deny you
Must be out of their mind

Because I came here with a load
And it feels so much lighter
Since I met you
And honey you should know
That I could never go on without you

Green eyes
Green eyes

Honey you are the rock
Upon which I stand

Written by Christopher Anthony John Martin, Guy Rupert Berryman, Jonathan Mark Buckland, William Champion • Copyright © Universal Music Publishing Group

don't be shitty.

Mostly, I fancy myself a nice lady. In fact, as my boyfriend can attest to, I once told him (while day drunk on a weekend afternoon, mind you) that he was the "nicest person ever... aside from me".

I was quiet growing up - shy, at times. Often had my nose in a book, or earbuds in, or my eyes glued to the TV, when others were at dances and parties. Didn't get into trouble, or make a fuss.
When people ask what high school was like for me, I always respond the same way: "I existed in high school." I was just there, and I had friends, and I was content.
And I was nice.
 
Imagine my surprise, then, when in later years, I began stumbling upon some old Facebook posts/yearbook comments/notes etc. that were, quite frankly, not so nice at all... and were the doing of yours truly. I was aghast to find that I could, at times, be a bit of a witch. And upon finding this out about myself, some 12, 13, 14+ years later, I was upset.
Sure, I had been polite and courteous, and maybe even "nice" in the general sense of the word. But I had not always been kind.

I don't think I need to get into specifics. Suffice it to say, I was seemingly judgemental at times, nit-picky, and comfortably seated on my high horse. Never directly TO someone, of course! I mean, I was a nice girl, after all. I likely thought my behind-the-scenes nastiness made me better than, say, your average run-of-the-mill mean person.
I was wrong. Because, when adult me realized she hadn't always been so kind, the knot in my stomach was tight, and unrelenting.

So, I vowed to make this a priority going forward; to ensure that I was being kind, so long as someone deserved this kindness. Evidently, it wasn't until I grew up and entered the "real world" that I realized how important this is. We truly have no idea what people are going through, what they've been through, what so-and-so shit on them for today, what is waiting for them at home after work, what a few positive words might mean to them, or what a few negative words might do to them.

And I found that, the more conscious I was of this effort, the less I wanted to gossip, or snicker, or roll my eyes. Along the way, as I've (thankfully!) matured, I've come to truly believe that people are inherently good, and because of that, deserve to be treated with my respect, my smile, my kindness... both to, and away from, their face.

And those who have lost that inherent goodness along the way... well, be as kind to them as you possibly can anyway. They may need it the most.

FPG

The evening before his service, I wrote out a letter to my father. Ever the rule follower, I asked the Funeral Director the next morning if it was okay for me to put the letter in his coffin; "You can put whatever you'd like in there," she replied, with a small smile.
I smiled back, thanked her, and placed it next to his left arm.

I felt like I could have left my entire spirit curled up beside that left arm.

I was never good at expressing myself verbally; awkward, shy, and uncomfortable, I wasn't able to tell my father what I thought of him, how much he meant to me, that he was my favourite person in the whole world. My dad understood this quietness in me, and so I'd always hoped he knew that, even if I couldn't say it, I felt it.

Writing? That I could do. And so I did. I wrote him a thank you letter. A letter that, quite simply, summed up my absolute gratitude for who he had been in my life.

I am not religious - I don't have faith in anything, don't concretely believe in a god, or an afterlife. I have no idea where my father is, if he is anywhere. But something told me that he'd know what I'd written in that letter, and those who do believe that he is in a better place would assure me that he does.

Grief is an ugly, necessary monster. I thought that I had come to terms with my father's illness, and inevitable premature passing, long before he actually left us. But I have not finished grieving. I still think about him every day; sometimes fleetingly, sometimes unrelentingly.  I've noticed, though, that he is always remembered with a smile.

My father was funny, hardworking, exceedingly selfless and kind. I will not be half of the person that he was, but I will always relish the parts of me that are just like him. (He passed along to me an unyielding love of music, for example, and I am forever grateful for that.)

I would tell you to hug your parents, to tell the people you love how you feel, etc. But maybe you can't - I continue to struggle with this.

Instead, perhaps take this advice; be kind, open-minded, and accepting. If you are, you will be surrounded by good people, and those people will know what they mean to you.

"Oh my God, I don't care!" - Charlie Kelly, 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia'

Though it's profoundly shotty, I know that my memory serves me correctly when I recall Sara's words to me. "Listen," she said, in a (characteristically) soft-spoken but firm tone, "I promise you, when you turn 30, you will stop caring about shit."
(Okay, the quotation marks may be a bit bold - it's possible that I'm paraphrasing. But her point was clear, and I didn't forget it.)

I had just finished telling her, over lunch in the mall food court, that I was overjoyed to have noticed I was starting to not care so much about things that used to worry me. I was on the verge of turning 30 years old, and in my mind, the caring had gone on way too long. Friends, former friends, boys, men, clothing, family, the feeling you get when you leave a store without buying something... I was so unbelievably tired of giving such a shit.

And at 32 (and a half, if you want to know) years old, I can say with confidence that I give so much less of a shit. I mean, I still give a few shits, of course. But here are a few things that I genuinely don't give ANY shits about:

Somebodies that I used to know.
You guys sucked. I don't think about you anymore, unless something reminds me of you, and then I think about the fact that you sucked, and I move on.

That guy who made fun of my facial hair in high school.
I'm half Italian on my father's side, and also, human. So, even though I wanted to burst into tears at the time, now it makes me laugh. While I pluck.

What people think of my tattoos.
I really like them, and they mean something to me.

My 'design' choices.
My house looks lived in. Like, SUPER lived in. And I used to worry that it looked like a giant dorm room, but honestly, I like having lots of stuff out.

If you look my outfit up and down, or make a face at my hair.
I like my oversized t-shirts, and air-dried hair. Thxbye.

I mean, I could go on. The fact of the matter, I think, is that we don't care as much as we get older because, while some things become more difficult as we get older, some others become so much easier.
"I really don't care if you stare at my AC/DC t-shirt with the small bleach stain on it because I accidentally paid CRA instead of my city taxes, and that is a WAY bigger deal!"

30 may not be the magic number for everyone; maybe Sara and I were young. Maybe you'll be closer to 40 - either way, believe me when I say that the things you thought you cared about won't seem so big one day. And it will be feel AWESOME!

Or maybe you stopped giving a shit when you were, like, 21... in which case, calm down, it's not a competition.

My hips love chips.

I had looked myself over no fewer than five times before leaving the house. It was Friday, Jordan and I both had the day off from work, and we were headed out to Walmart to pick up a few things. My mirror shattered over two years ago, and I have yet to replace it, out of nothing more than sheer laziness. Through the split glass, I thought I looked okay in a pair of mid-rise jeans, and a plaid shirt that reached just above the top of the jeans.

So, when the van drove by us in the parking lot, I wasn't expecting for anyone to call something out to us, which is probably why I didn't make out what she'd said.

"Something something something, girl!" was all I heard, as we lugged our Walmart bags toward Jordan's SUV, having just finished our errands.

"What did she say?" I asked quickly, sharply. Jordan was short in his response. "Nothing. Who cares." "Was she being mean, though?" "Who cares." "... I'm always going to wonder." Nervous giggle.

Jordan suddenly darted off in the opposite direction of the parking lot, and I called after him to ask if he was looking for his car. He wasn't. I shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot, until I saw him coming back toward me a minute later. I smiled weakly.

"Where did you go? What did I miss?" He was quiet. I closed the car door behind me, and looked over at him. "Just tell me... what did she say?"

Jordan informed me that the woman in the back of the beat-up blue van had called out to me "Hips don't lie, girl!", from her open window. So he'd trekked over to the van to ask if she and her van mates thought they were "clever" for yelling out of passing vehicles at people. My knight in shining armour.

"Technically, she could have meant it as a compliment!" He nodded his head toward me, with a sideways grin. "True!" I said, smiling back. "My hips certainly do not lie!" But he knew I was upset, and he asked me not to be, and put his hand on my knee the rest of the drive. Because to me, even on the off-chance that she' d meant to compliment me on the hips I self-deprecatingly refer to as "child-bearing", the point was that someone had noticed my hips walking out of a store. They were that big. They were so big that she felt she needed to yell it to me.

Later on, I wondered if she would have said anything at all if she'd known that I worked so very hard to be where I am now; struggled every day to lose 50 lbs, and still struggle every day to stay healthy, some seven years later. "Women are supposed to be sticking together... isn't that what I keep hearing?!" The problem, though, is not the woman in the van, and I know that. The problem is me. People can be nasty, but truthfully, we are often nastiest to ourselves. Every day, I fall somewhere within a grand spectrum of accepting who & what I am, and wanting to be more (or less). It's frustrating, difficult, and detrimental. And I know, full well, that I am not alone in this. I'm no self-help guru, but I am truly saddened by the way I hear women talk about themselves; I think we are all often guilty of being a backseat van yeller to our own selves. I'm looking to change this about myself, and it started with me trying to determine what I really, truly like about myself, because that's what matters.

So, if you feel this way some days (maybe most days!), like I do, here is what I think you should know about yourself, despite anything else, every day:

You're funny. In fact, you're hilarious. You have beautiful eyes, and your makeup (or, hey, lack thereof!) always looks flawless. You are creative, and hard-working, and smart. Your smile lights up the room (which is a total cliché, but also a total truth). You are happy, and confident, and you see the best in people. You're kind, independent, and charming.

You're beautiful. You really are.

And, by the way KM, I bet your farts ARE awesome. The rest of you certainly is.