One night in Montreal the lights went out and my building didn’t have a generator.
I wandered through the partially lit streets for a while, then returned to my building.
There were people by the door, hand written signs stuck on the little glass windows.
There was a poetry, music, something else jam going on in the basement. I could feel the vibrations as the entrance hallway was just over the basement and the front door rattled just a bit. It felt like good vibes.
I don’t remember if there was something else that I should have been doing. There probably was and there usually is. I remember what I did. I wandered down to the basement for the first time. It was warm, unlike the minus-whatever-it-was outside. Mostly likely minus double digits, I remember being uncomfortable outside. I remember our building with no heating because the power was out, feeling cold.
I told the ladies at the entrance to the poetry slam, music jam, something else, that I didn’t have any cash- because I didn’t, that I live in the building and that I’ve never been down here but the music coming from a stage not too far away sounded like music that could make your soul dance. I don’t believe in souls.
( sorry if this is the first time that you’re finding out that I don’t believe in souls, and that I don’t believe in a God, or any gods. I believe in a me occurring right now, in this space and time. I believe in a complex world, with complex beings & a lot more going on than we understand. I don’t think that God(s) don’t exist. I just don’t know. Don’t try to convince me. I’ve tried to convince myself already. I’ve learned that it’s best to just be honest, and honest is that I. Don’t. Know. It won’t be news to my parents, they found out a while ago. Don’t tell me grandmothers! They don’t need to live with that pain. Not when they pray for me everyday. I’ve also felt this way since late 2015, it’s not an effect of living in Montreal.)
They let me in, money wasn’t an issue. There were no lights but there were candles illuminating the corners of the room and the stage. Under the low ceiling there was an orange glow and an iridescent aura. I self consciously stood at the back, unwilling to take a seat that I didn’t pay for. My head was really near to the roof. I thought that my brother would not be able to stand in here, not a fat chance. I couldn’t think much more because Bashu and a guy who looked a lot like Gareth, it turned out it was Gareth, was playing the accordion and a violin, and singing a song named Cheers by the St. Lawrence Warehouse Company. I lost that self consciousness as they asked the onlookers to sing along with them and to raise their glasses into the air. They celebrated the friends that were made all along the journey of life; some still friends and others, not.
A few songs later they exited the stage and a new artist was welcomed on. She painted the air with her words and with each sentence she opened up her life to us, the Friday night audience. She was hilarious. She was so funny. She almost made me uncomfortable because she made such a laugh of herself and I hadn’t shared a thing with her.
She kept at it.
Off to my right, this person was laughing obnoxiously loud. So, so loud. What was being shared was hilarious and this person had received every line that this girl spoke. The girl on stage, didn’t have a funny bone, she had a funny body. Gosh darn, she made me laugh so hard. This person to the right of me; with her high pitched feminine laugh was really being soaked in all of the funnies. Her laughter made me feel more comfortable about laughing aloud. Gosh, her laughter was so loud, so undeniably female. In the soft, flickering candle light it was hard to see her, the owner of the laughter who was making the basement echo with her sound.
Then I did, because as abruptly as power goes, it returns. There she was, my friend from school who was on her way to becoming who she really was. For so many years, the laugh that she heard when she thought something was funny, wasn’t the laugh that she heard in her mind. Just like her body, it was way too masculine. Too deep, not her.
Receiving things are sometimes weird, understanding things are sometimes weird. In that moment however, I immediately understood. This girl had waited so, so long to hear this laugh that she shared so wholeheartedly and encouragingly. This girl was hearing herself and feeling her self, and she laughed five times louder than anyone else because that’s what you do when you’ve waited two whole decades dreaming to hear yourself, the real you, laugh.
She’s got some making up to do. Her jubilant spirit and fairy heart rejoices in who she is. I sat there thinking, she’s so happy and that laugh, her heart so full. And, oh my, this girl on stage is seriously hilarious. I sat there thinking, I’m so happy that she can be who she is, after all this time, after so many years, after all this work. I sat there thinking, what is life if you aren’t who you know you are.
I listened to her laughter and I loved it because she was being so true to herself and I think that that’s one of the most important things in the world. I sat there thinking, ” Girl, laugh! And laugh some more! Your laugh is beautiful, ernest and encouraging. Girl laugh! You’ve got some making up to do.”
They turned out the lights because the candles were prettier and I sat there thinking, she must be so happy to hear that laugh. “Girl laugh!”
I’ll be honest, I’ve wanted to share this story for a really long time because of the huge impression that it left on me. I didn’t though because I didn’t have much motivation to write and I didn’t know how to properly frame it. Until now, now I do so I wrote this. I know now because there is a sand timer above my head and two paths before me. Each day that I don’t go down one path, I go down the other and believe me, spending less time on that other path makes it less and less likely to ever happen. One path goes to a university where I get a degree, then follow my plan and become a sailor afterwards. The other is the path where I stop university, again. I get my RYA captain licence, work on a yacht for a while before I start my own PADI certifying and sailing charter company. On one of these paths I see myself move further and further away from who I am. On the other path, my sunburnt self, who has just worked 18 hours straight, doing everything from retrieving an anchor to scrubbing a boat’s head (toilet) and checking an engine room, smiles and smiles deep. On that second path, I’m doing what makes me smile, what feeds my being. On the first path, I’m gaining credentials that I don’t need, nor want. I’m following a dream that isn’t mine. I’m playing into the hands of a system that’s focused on accumulation of a type of wealth that I rebuke. I’m not happy there. I’m doing what’s to be done. I’m losing myself as I gain worldly things that I didn’t want. I spend hours in classes studying for a degree. I’m doing communications. We use books. The most updated and relevant information is online. The lecturer can cover the basics which are also online and held by so many people that I meet everyday. Why are we using books??
I wrote this, because that girl was being true to herself. Something that everyone tells you to do but I promise you, it’s easier to move a mountain than to be true to yourself.
I’m going to finish Uni though, because I don’t want to pay back GATE for a second time. ( I don’t want my parents to pay back GATE for me for a second time.) Because I’m more than halfway there. Because I need to write things like this, so that I can one day look back and encourage myself to finish this degree because on the night of July 29th, 2017, I said that I would.
I’m going to try to be me for a bit though. I’m having that girl’s laugh echo inside of me a little bit. I’m taking a leave of absence for the 2017/2018 academic year.