This has probably been one of my greatest summers yet. It had a rough start but a triumphant ending. Friends from all corners of my life reappeared as the days grew longer and I finish this summer with some really good new ones too.
My first treasured memory is canoing with Matt. Thanks to him, I now love canoing. The day after I quit working a nasty job, he took me canoing at Burnaby Lake. After the break-up, he took canoing in False Creek with a sixpack of beer. We raised our beer in salute to the dragon boaters as they heaved and paddled by. The downtown buildings reflected gold. I can conclude that canoing is a great anecdote to one's troubles.
Another important memory was going to Galiano Island with my friend Matthew. He grew up in a paradise surrounded by ocean. His mom is an incredible woman as well as a talented artist. His stepfather and sister are also very friendly people.
One new friend is Cheena. She was looking for people to practice portraiture on while making friends so I volunteered. We have hung out for coffee and explored the seedy areas of East Van at sunset (including climbing on top of stationed trains). She has a radient energy about her that is really fun to be around.
And of course Natasha and I have been up to some crazy antics including droping pants in public areas. She rocks!
So I have moved to East Van into a place with a couple of great guys. One is a social worker in his mid-thirties. He is always surprising me with "mmoooing" me in the morning and telling me wild ideas at night. The other is here from Japan on work visa for a year. He is a practising buddhist and he loves his job as a Mexican-food deliveryman. I am hoping to learn a lot about buddhism from him and in the meantime the three of us are having lots of fun. Thanks to both, that appartment feels like that right place for me.
Having moved to Commercial Drive, every day I meet someone new on the street or run into a friendly aquaintance. I have also met my neighbours next door and across the street. One night Yuki and I heard Bob Marley from accross the street so we walked over and asked if we could join in. This party of musicians accepted us on the condition that we hoola hoop at least once for them. Then Yuki got to play an african drum with the guys while the ladies taught me some poi. I feel like I am living in a real community.
So what is the triumph? This summer I worked full time with children and youth with special needs. I had volunteered in this area before but I really did not have that much experience. I learned that this work is challenging, creative, fun, frustrating and incredibly fulfilling. I had to take on things I never thought I could do, and I found myself calmly handling many difficult situations. The token headbutts and strangulations was worth it. I emerged from that job a stronger, happier and more confident person and I hope I will be able to take the opportunity to do it next year.
On a side note - because of the physical nature of the job, I am down to my high school weight and size (except that my biceps are bigger fortunately). I really enjoy this new body - it's more flexible and energetic - and I hope I will be able to keep it up through salsa dancing, swimming and running this fall/winter.
So summer has ended and I am back to my old job. Nothing here feels like it's changed, but my coworkers were taken back by my suntan, thin figure and long hair. That was a nice surprise. I have also decided to start casually wearing a bit of make-up for fun.
And I am now attending Simon Fraser University. I was very anxious the first week of Uni - head full of petty doubts - but after a few weeks, I am really loving the school. I have already made friends in my classes, joined a few clubs and met some really nice people. I wish I could have time for more.
The club I am most excited about is Oxfam. We are involved with issues such as global poverty, world hunger and other forms of social injustice - and as a perk I have met some students who have done incredible things like volunteering in orphanages in India.
I have already been invited to one girl's birthday party - I bought her a gift not knowing what she would like and it reminds me of being the new kid in elementary school - like my mom should tie my hair back and make me wear a pink crinolin dress and mary jane shoes for the occassion. But I got her "Cold WarUnicorns" which I think is a winner.