I don't know where I've been over the last week. I got back to Calgary from Vancouver a week ago this morning. I never finished my blogs about Nanaimo or Vancouver; not because it wasn't worth talking about, because the Island was nothing short of magical in spite of the rain. I didn't end up writing about Vancouver either even though the culinary ride I had the privilege of being taken on via Ancora Waterfront Restaurant & Bar and La Casa Gelato made the whole trip in themselves. Honestly, I think my head has been trapped in some kind of external mind-space where I'm floating between the quiet of watching the sunrise on the pier, to the nonstop mental chaos of being in Calgary again. I took the trip in order to clear my head. I've faced some disappointment as well as some harsh light in the exploration of my past as of late. These are substantial issues that require patience and time to get through them, and now more than ever, my anxiety is running fast laps on a treadmill without a stop button. Distraction is my friend. My focus, actually, for better or for worse. And I'm trying not to let all of this set me back entirely, but it's hard not knowing what's coming next when I was so sure I'd had it figured out. I thought I'd outweighed the risks and benefits already and my decision would be supported enough, equally by positive emotion and sound logic, to remain unchanged. Instead, everything changed, again. And I feel as though time can't move any slower, even though the calendar tells me that I've already let too many days pass me by.
It's been almost six months to the day that my life changed in a very drastic way. I came back from Europe after a three-week trip through seven countries with my former boyfriend Marko, who had to move back home to Croatia due to visa issues. We went on a trip to Europe together for what ended up being different reasons. We'd discussed traveling earlier in the summer before we knew he would have to leave. He wanted to show me a continent rich in culture and history, and he thought that Europe would appeal to my creative and emotional nature. He hit the nail on the head with that one. I'd never been to Europe before. The conversations around and planning process around that trip, however, began to change colour once we found out his request for sponsorship got denied. It wasn't going to be an exciting, romantic trip to Europe anymore; it was going to be a desperate attempt to buy more time. At least, that's what it was for me. Our relationship began to deteriorate quickly before we left. There was a point on the trip itself I though we were gonna break up then and there (we were in Berlin) and I didn't know how we were going to get through the rest of it.
The trip itself was - in a word - stressful. I'm not going to write the whole thing off and say it was a disaster, because it was special for what it was. And for a first trip to Europe, it was one hell of one; we got ambitious. I'd never recommend a route like this to anyone, especially for a first time. But we visited London, Croatia, Venice, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, and Amsterdam. There was little room for error in our plans and therein laid our first fault, when we missed our flight to Pula from London Stansted. We almost travelled without a credit card which is ludicrous to me now. Luckily I had a joint card with me that I was able to book a hotel with. This setback cut our rest time in Croatia in half, and we were met with constant rainy weather when we did get there. We had a lot of disagreements along the way, too. Basically we didn't like any of the same cities. For all the cities I found either boring, sketchy, or just awful, Marko loved. And the ones I thoroughly enjoyed, he didn't care for. This painstaking process reaffirmed the fact that Marko and I went on this trip for different reasons, with vastly different priorities. I should've taken the hint with the constant fighting that happened over the flights and itinerary. But now I know. I pulled the plug ten days before Christmas over the phone, shortly after he moved to New Zealand. (No, that isn't a typo. It would have been long distance across the world. That shit just doesn't work.) I couldn't. I never could have. And I've never regretted it, it was the best decision I ever made. He's a good guy. Just not for me.
A few days before we'd left for our trip in October, I got fired from my hostessing job. Like my relationship, I found that being the smiling, made-up face at the front door wasn't nearly as glamorous as it looked - it wasn't for me, and it entailed a type of stress I didn't have the capacity for. I still don't. I never went back to work. It's been six months since I've embarked on a different kind of journey, not sure of where it would take me or how it would look, but only that it was a very long time coming. In total, it will likely be a year that I do this. This partly-insane, partly-commendable, partly-outlandish deviation from regular life and into the composition of my own soul. I'm halfway in, and I have a few things to report. It's nice not having to worry. It's nice having options and opportunities to explore my interests. It's nice not having to show up to a job I hate and having to bullshit to rude people all with a pretty painted smile. Much of that is for nothing, though, when you don't know where you're going. When your life lacks purpose or meaning. When you don't know where you belong in this world, as dramatic as that sounds. Money doesn't heal a broken heart. Money doesn't buy back the years you might have wished you lived differently. And while some things might look different from the outside, the majority remains the same. The Universe has provided me with a unique opportunity with which to seize my potential and truly follow my heart. I won't say that's for nothing, because I'm grateful every day. But problems don't disappear - with yourself, with your family, with other people. Sadly, all the money in the world can't buy peace on the battlefield or in our own hearts.
No, I didn't rob a bank. I didn't win the lottery either. Let's just say once upon a time, poor decisions were made. By multiple people. And like my eight-year-old nephew says when he's playing Lego on Xbox, "it's not the best, but it's what we've got." (I didn't mean for that to sound as tasteless as it came out, but let's pretend it tastes like cupcakes and move on now.) It's been an interesting time to check out of regular life when i think about what's happened on the global scale since November. Multiple terrorist attacks displaced thousands and thousands of refugees to different corners of the world. Justin Trudeau and the Liberals got elected, and the entire world is fangirling. My city, Calgary, the oil and gas hub of Canada laid off thousands and thousands of workers and the city's suicide rate spiked 30% in late 2015. Tensions feel high all over the place, and that hasn't been something I ignored. Instead I see what's happening in the world and I feel moreover obligated to love and do well with my resources and my time. That isn't meant to be a glaze-over sentiment. I understand that the world is suffering. For my entire life, I've been too. And without the distractions of work, school, or a long-term relationship to get me to think about anything else, current events AND trending topics get pretty much all the of the airtime in my world. That's hard to deal with sometimes. It's hard for me to dial it back and stay in my own head, working through my own thoughts, which are chaotic enough in themselves. That's my work now, though. I am my work. Lately I've been having a lot more moments than usual questioning whether or not I'm completely crazy to do this. To do any of this. And where I sit today in particular on that is undecided, but there are other days when I'm completely sure. And those are the days I've learned I need to pay attention to.
I'm sitting in my bedroom facing my window as I write this, but I'm not in my bed. I'm sitting on a daybed. I took it out of our guest bedroom and replaced it with the queen-sized mattress that Marko left me when he moved away. Over the last week, I've booked some flights, made some hotel reservations. You'll hear about them in my travel blog soon enough. But I won't pretend that those bookings weren't made from a place of desperation, of anxiety, of the need to BE lost. I thought I knew exactly where I was going in the short-term and what I like to call the "immediate long-term" (a period of 3-5 years). I thought I could plan things out and nothing would go wrong. But I should have learned from that trip. I wonder to myself now, did I learn nothing? Did the hurt and the stress and the worry and the regret make no impression on me at all? Come on Mary. You can do better than that. The sky is darkening and I'll be watching another sunset by myself in the next half hour. I've been tired, hungry, and sluggish all day. Like I mentioned earlier, distraction is my friend and my focus. I'm attempting a 30-day barre challenge just to get me moving and out of the house and toned and fit for my next trip. I also need to finish rearranging the two rooms in my house I took apart and littered across the living room. I've resigned to specific emotions when I look back on the last six months. It's all overrun by the anxiety I feel around the next six months to come. I hope it all works out. I hope I figure it out. I hope I get the fuck out. For good.
I've never been good at keeping secrets, but I understand now why it was so important for me to keep this one. Those close to me know that I was supposed to make an announcement on Monday morning. Close your Facebook apps. It's not coming. But I don't have a grand solution to offer any of you for consolation. Not even for me. And right now, I need to learn to be okay with that. I'm making plans, but I know now that they need to be made to be broken. I hope people still have faith in me by the end. I hope I still have friends, because I lost so many on the way. I hope I still get a chance to have the boring life I always wanted, and that I won't always have to trade it for the fast-paced one, that I love but admittedly I can't always handle. I hope I learn how to make the pain go away. And I hope I find what I'm looking for, whatever that is. My hope is with me. My work is me. This is the part that's going to piss you off: this is the hardest work I've ever done. And it only gets harder, once I build the confidence to put theory into practice. No, I don't get dressed up and commute to an office or eat shit to make a good impression. But instead I'm trying to re-break my heart so that it heals properly. Every emotional bone in my body is being re-aligned and all my systems re-programmed. This is not easy work. This is expensive work. This is the kind of the work that has no guarantee you'll get back what you put in. But you hope that you turn out better for it. You hope you're still someone that people will love.
I hope I'm still someone I would want to love. This is preposterous and I know it. It isn't for your attention. But if you've wondered where I'm been, I'm here. Even if my mind isn't.