Please take me back there

We left a wee bit later than I wanted to, but we were still on the highway by 9:30am. There were a total of seven of us who went up to the cottage this week; we took two cars up and arrived at the cottage about 30 minutes apart. It took me a full day to fully unwind this time around1, and even then I wasn’t fully myself.

First day, and the water was just right

I tried my best to be present with everyone, but the gnawing feeling in the back of my mind and heart were incessant. More and more it’s becoming extremely evident that the only option I have is the one option I really wish I didn’t want to have to take. But this isn’t about all that. This is about how lucky I felt to have been able to spend three and a half days with people who I don’t feel deserving to know so intimately. I can only hope that I never made anyone feel uncomfortable simply by going through what I’m going through. I swear, I tried my best.

It isn’t that I don’t think I am worthy in the sense that I am worthless, no, it is merely that I know how many amazing people there are in the world and I know how lucky I am that they chose me to include in their lives2.

This old firehall was a good landmark for my morning runs

There was a fascinating dynamic present, and it made for a great mix of deep connection and light-hearted fun. There was a lot of sexual innuendo, dad jokes and puns, mixed in with talk about Myers-Briggs test results and philosophical topics about love and connection. They are wonderful because they choose to live authentic lives, they open their hearts to everyone, careful not to let anyone in who doesn’t truly deserve it. I could really learn a lot from these people.

I love how much simpler life is at the cottage: waking up unassisted by alarms, going for a morning run breathing in nothing but fresh air, stretching with a gorgeous view of the lake, trees and wildlife in the distance, enjoying a morning coffee with the same view, swim-showering in the lake, sun-drying beside the same awesome people I mentioned above, lunching, going for boat rides, visiting the look-out tower, swimming in Oxtongue Ragged Falls, playing cards against humanity with some of the dirtiest3 minds, vicky-cures4, roaring fires, star gazing, and the best part of all – celebrating the birth of a woman who inspires me to be the best version of myself.

I spent quite a bit of time working on purging unnecessary items from my home this past weekend. Less time than I would have liked, but it still felt good. It has been a slow process – purging the unnecessary from my life – because I’m so sentimental, and because I have a hard time giving up things5. I just need to keep the end goal in mind, and all this time in-between, and the feeling that continues to gnaw at me will be something I will learn to harness so I can become the ultimate version of me6.

I digress.

The wiew from the look-out tower will take your breath away

I just want to send out a thank you to those I spent the week with at the cottage. You may not have known it at the time, but you helped this lost soul feel like she belongs even if only for a few days. I am forever grateful for your generosity.

Goofballs at the falls
The sunset on our last night was like a warm hug goodbye from Mother Nature herself
Footnotes:
  1. compared to the last time I went away – to go camping anyway[]
  2. I’m even more aware of how lucky I am because there is someone I chose to keep in my life right now who takes me for granted – and while I wish it was as easy to do as it is to say, I know I should cut them out…but like I said, easier said than done[]
  3. aka the best[]
  4. special manicures by the birthday girl herself[]
  5. and giving up on people[]
  6. not that I’m admitting to being an X-Men but I’m not saying I’m not[]

Elora Gorge-ous

I had never heard of it before, but in late June a group of food-lovers got together to eat a delicious meal of ribs, mashed potatoes and coleslaw. We ate, drank and merrily conversed about all sorts of things. Eventually one person brought up that we should plan some day trips out of the city, and we quickly compared calendars and penciled in a bunch of dates.

And so in early July, I met up with four lads to go tubing at the Elora Gorge Conservation Area. I had no idea what to expect, but it involved water, sunshine and nature. How could it be anything but good? I didn’t bring a GoPro, nor did I bring the waterproof case for my phone so I wasn’t able to take pictures and even better? It was like going camping all over again: being disconnected. I was grateful for the opportunity to be offline for the day.

We got there just in time too; just before noon. The line-up was enormous. By the time we were renting our gear, they had to put a call out that there were only 20 tubes left1. We took the big yellow school bus shuttle bus up to the top of the hill, and carried our tubes the rest of the way to the launch pad. The website had warned us not to wear flip-flops, and I didn’t want to wear shoes so I went barefoot – a decision I would not make again. Rocks are sharp, and they get really hot in the sun. The more you know.

I didn’t think about it until it was too late, but I could have strapped my flipflops onto the life vest I was required to wear. We walked along the gravel roads two more times after the first time. Yes, the ride down the river is absolutely worth it.

The first time we went down, once we had gotten through the roughest water, we formed a 9-person-circle; a community whereby we kept each other safe, from bum surprises or drifting into the side and getting stuck. We speculated as to who we would sacrifice should we encounter more rough water. We managed to stay together for quite some time. The second and third times down, there were only five of us and we tried to recreate the community but it just wasn’t the same. So we would alternate between trios. I was also part of a trio… or a couple. I guess I didn’t like going down the river alone2.

We eventually got hungry, so we dried ourselves, changed and drove into town for some pizza and ice cream. The pizza was planned, the ice cream was purely my bad3 influence. After that, we drove over to the Quarry to go swimming and jump off cliffs. I had never jump off cliffs when I was a kid. They didn’t have such things in Dubai. If they did, I didn’t know about it and so I never got to go.

It was exhilarating. I’m not even a strong swimmer, but I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying the adrenaline rush and the satisfaction of knowing you said fuck you to your fears. I actually surprised myself; not only did I manage to jump 3 or 4 times but I swam every single time and only started to feel like I was too tired to swim on the 4th go around4.

As the sun continued to descend, it only began to get colder and colder… and soon there were only two of us playing in the water so we called it. The drive home was a little more mellow than the drive out, but the silences were satisfying.

I am so grateful I got to experience another mini-get-away in nature so soon after coming back from my 5 day camping adventure or I might have gone into withdrawals. There’s talk of doing another day trip with the same group in August and I honestly can’t wait to see what kind of trouble we get ourselves into next.

If you’ve never been to Elora Gorge, you really should consider taking a trip out. Remember though, go with no expectations and you’re guaranteed to have a great time.

Footnotes:
  1. and there were at least 30 people in line behind us[]
  2. I would have happily gone down alone but I often ended up with someone[]
  3. or good[]
  4. trust me, it’s an accomplishment[]

A week away from the city

For the last five years my family and I have been camping in various Ontario Parks. We’ve been to Awenda, Silent Lake, Quinte, Sibbald Point and this year we’re checking out Algonquin. I can’t speak for my family, but I look forward to it every year. We book our campsite in February just to make sure we get a good site. Our favourite park is Silent Lake, but we’ve agreed to try a different park every other year. What’s even better is that we have the luxury of checking in on a Sunday, and checking out on a Thursday so we can avoid the crowds.

I feel so blessed though because not only am I getting a chance to go camping for 5 days/4 nights, I’m also going to a friend’s cottage for a couple of nights. A cottage that is honestly just so good for my soul. I’ve been able to spend a lot of time on my balcony, and it’s bee lovely but getting out of the city is incomparable.

I have a few books that I hope to bring with me. I’ll also be bringing my notebook, and I hope to be able to get back into sketching. I really need to get working on finalizing the sketch of my second tattoo after all. Maybe I’ll finally have it this summer.

No matter what happens while I’m away from the city, I am extremely grateful for my upcoming week being able to be one with nature for almost 7 straight days.

With a vengeance

Before I went to Winnipeg for B&A’s Wedding last year, the last trip I was able to take by myself was to Mexico to visit a very dear, old friend of mine who at the time was living on a tiny Island called Holbox, off the Yucatan Peninsula. That was in 2009. I was able to go on road trips with my family, and while we had a wonderful time in NYC and Chicago the years that we went – I’m sure I don’t need to explain why the trips just weren’t the same.

This year, as soon as I could, I bought VIA rail tickets to Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to visit another dear, old friend who I hadn’t seen in a very long time. She grew up in a small town just outside Ottawa, and was living in Toronto when I met her; she moved back to Ottawa some 10 years ago1, and I was able to visit her often-ish when she first moved but slowly yet surely I found myself lacking the funds and the means to make it out. I’m so glad I chose this trip as one of the first trips now that I can afford to. We’ve always had one of those friendships where we didn’t need to talk everyday to know that we loved each other; and can happily share comfortable silences together as I blog while she catches up on social media2. I digress…

I want more, and I’m finding myself mentally mapping out where all my friends live so I can visit them. Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Australia, Dublin, London, Amsterdam, Mexico, San Francisco, New York, Georgia… I know I can’t visit all of them this year but I do hope I get to do it before I turn 40. That would be really nice. That list isn’t in any order of priority either. If I have the opportunity to go to any of them, I will take it in a heartbeat. While I love living in Toronto, I have often toyed with the idea of moving again. I wouldn’t go back to Dublin3, but I think I would want to live somewhere in Europe. Their way of living simply appeals to me4.

While out for a late night snack with said friend in Ottawa last night, she asked me to imagine a dinner party that I could host anywhere in the world, and invite any five people I wanted; I was to describe the meal, the setting… everything… and I’m a little ashamed to admit that at first I had a hard time imagining things. I pushed through and even though I answered her questions, she ended up having to cut me slack because I simply couldn’t get there. What I’m getting at is that I hope my ability to dream bigger comes back too. I used to have a vivid imagination for the things I wanted, and somewhere along the way I lost that. Heck, I used to write stories.

I don’t think that any of the heartbreak or bad relationships in the last few years are to blame, though it would have been easy to; I think the lack of travel in my life has forced my dreaming muscles in hibernation. I hope I can revive them this year, and get my imagination back. My subconscious has already started dreaming up amazing stories where Ryan Higa used his amazing comedic, and magical talents to surprise me with a proposal so I’ve got to be doing something right… right?!

What keeps you dreaming?

Footnotes:
  1. give or take a year or two[]
  2. while cuddling with her adorable dog[]
  3. where I lived for 1.5 years[]
  4. more on that later[]