How to Deal When You Love Hockey, But Your Team Majorly Sucked This Season

Obviously, if you’ve read any of this blog in the past two years, you can safely determine that I am a tiny bit of a hockey fan. So, recently, faced with a new “my-Canucks-sucked-so-bad-they-didn’t-make-the-NHL-playoffs-and-oh-my-God-the-team-is-going-to-blow-up” world, a thought occurred to me. What’s it like to be a hockey fan in the depths of summer, when you have no one to cheer for? I posed this question to a friend of mine, we’ll call him Junior, and asked him to write his take of life deep into the most exciting time of the year, with nothing at all to be excited about. Is it really about the world’s best and most beautiful sport? Or do allegiances taint the love?

Junior:

It’s Wednesday, May 14th and the eyes of the hockey fans around world (really, mostly North America) are focused on the TD Boston Garden where the Bruins are set to face the Montreal Canadiens in Game 7 of their war of attrition 2nd round playoff series. As a Vancouver Canucks fan, you would think that I would be greatly anticipating the prospect of the Bruins’ season ending at home – to a Canadian hockey team no less.

The sad fact is: I just don’t really care either way. I guess it’s a symptom of watching your favourite team’s season end before the playoffs even begin. Without a vested interest in the NHL playoffs, you find yourself saying things like “that Marchand is a talented two way forward” and “Milan Lucic sure seems like a classy fellow.”  Yes – you can become a bandwagon fan for a few weeks and cheer for a feel good story – there’s nothing wrong with that. (Editor’s Note- There is, 100% absolutely something wrong with BOTH of these former statements, and I have supporting evidence to both, but I digress.) But if you have not spent an entire season following a team through its highs and lows (and being a Canucks fan, there have been plenty of crippling, deeply dark, lows lately), that emotional component that makes the road to the Stanley Cup so exhilarating is noticeably absent. In other words, I could give a duck. It’s impossible to feel good about hockey in general when you realize that in the span of about eight months, your team went from being a high-calibre, playoff ready squad, to having two rookies in net, lowest scoring totals in half a decade, and an injury list that could reach Los Angeles.

Playoff Hopes

 And this is how I have come to feel strangely indifferent about the NHL playoffs this spring without the Vancouver Canucks’ involvement. There were never any potential second or third round match ups to worry about. Never any lineup controversies to get into a heated argument discuss with co-workers. Never any ridiculous time pumping quotes to analyze. No, being a hockey fan come playoff time when your team does not even qualify for postseason play is an altogether dreary experience. It’s like knowing someone’s going to win the lottery, someone you know, maybe even like a little, and you’re not even getting a penny of it. Maybe admitting this fact makes me a sad excuse for a hockey fan, but it also makes me an honest hockey fan. I’m a one-team, and one-team only kind of guy.

 The rest of you can enjoy watching hockey well into June. I’ll be sitting by a swimming pool somewhere eagerly awaiting (and maybe dreading) October.

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Attack of the Intimidating Woman

About a week ago, I had a great coffee date to catch up with one of my friends from high school. He’s one of those people whom I was little worried about for a while in our early twenties. We had been very close in high school, and immediately following. But, as with life, we fell out of touch after I moved across the country for university. Of course, the advent of social media let me keep track of him so I knew the bare basics of what his life looked like.

Since university, he’s been on this one-man tear to follow his dreams. Moving to New York to pursue a career as an actor, and having the opportunity to study at the Lee Strasbourg School. He’s back home in Vancouver visiting for the holidays and our schedules serendipitously aligned for us to grab some coffee, and embark on an ambitious 2 hour catch up of approximately the last decade of our lives. Challenge accepted. During this conversation, he referred to me as being “intimidating” more than once. And after the third time, I had to ask him to clarify his definition of the word. Was my being an intimidating woman a good thing, or a bad thing? Turns out, it was great.

As he so eloquently described, an intimidating woman:

  • Has her shit together
  • She has drive and determination, personally and professionally
  • Is a grown woman (she has no time for the “trivial shit other girls obsess over”)
  • Doesn’t need to impress you with make up, and clothes, she let’s her wit win you over
  • She is comfortable in her own skin, and doesn’t feel the need to apologize for how you think she looks
  • Has self confidence, (apparently this is the #1 attractor) and as a result is both beautiful and smart

Needless to say, I asked him to stick around and continue to whisper sweet nothings to me all day long. It did get me thinking though, why the choice of “intimidating” as the main descriptor? Why not strong, driven, or a plethora of other options? His answer: because you’re the type of woman every guy wants, but is scared shitless when they actually get you. They don’t know what to do with you, because you’re equally as happy with or without us. The only difference here is that by needing us, you show vulnerability, giving us a glimmer of hope.

Obviously, this was a lot to take in at 10AM in the morning. I always thought there was something about me that I couldn’t put my finger on. How I managed to end up surrounding myself with some really great people, in particular, strong women and driven personalities. He summed it up in the laws of attraction- that you get back what you put out into the universe.

So what was this all supposed to mean? Did I give off some signal that screamed “Caution, intimidating woman, be afraid”? (This may explain portions of my dating life.) According to my source of male insight, this was quite the opposite, the only thing that “screamed” off me, and those like me, is that you better bring your best self to the table before approaching, because otherwise you will not be given the time of day. Sure, this sounds fairly bitchy and discriminatory, when it fact, it just means that you are self-aware and do not have time for those who are not.

Of course hearing this from an old, but close friend was a pleasant surprise. It also was reassuring to hear this coming from someone who also knew me “back when”, so they have a reference point. The moral of the story here is that yes, I am and can be a lot to handle, but I have equally the same to offer. I am, in fact, a unicorn. There are more of us popping up here and there across the land. Be ready friends, the attack of intimidating women is coming, and in the word’s of Beyoncé, “you’re not ready for this jelly”.

The One Where Her Guard Fell

I’ve been meaning to write something like this for a while, but never really had the cajones to do it. This last year has been tough, amazing, but tough, in all aspects of life. So I figure doing some cathartic writing therapy, before charging into 2014 was as good a time as any. This is going to get personal fast, but we all know I wear my heart on my sleeve. For better or worse.

The best way to attack this is to break it down, categorically. We’ll briefly touch on friendships, career(s), and love. Let’s dive in, shall we?

Friendship:
About a year ago, it became clear to me that someone I thought would be in my life forever, as my best friend, would not in fact be that person. I’ve been told time and again that people are in our lives sometimes for a certain length of time to teach us about ourselves, and move on. I firmly believe this was what she was to me now. We’ll call her AB. We had a great ride, I mean, I can honestly say that I have never, and likely will never pick up a girl at a bar again on St. Patrick’s Day, by offering to swap our dates for each other, and then end up leaving together without either of them. Upon moving back to Ottawa last year, she and I tried to dive right back in. Big mistake. A lot had changed for both of us, and we were not the same university students anymore. She decided to pull the rip cord, and I, though completely disapproving of her actions, did not push her. It is now a year later, and we have not spoken. Not to sound ungrateful, but her absence, though known,  has not necessarily been missed. Sure, I recall fondly our time together, memories and conversations. But my life has not suffered for it, there is no void. When I realized this, about 6 months into my imposed friendship exile, I knew I was at peace with it. I wish her only the best in life, hold no ill will, and thank her for everything she has taught me. This is not a conclusion that would have come so easily to me in the past. I would sit and over analyze it, pick apart everything said and figure out how to fix it. I fight for people I love, and friendships sometimes to a fault, and I know now that it’s ok to let someone step back if they need to, they’ll come back if they are meant to be in your life. Frankly, if I had gone into past-Meera-psycho-mode, I think this situation would be a lot more miserable than it was, and I don’t think either of us would have been OK with that.

Career(s):
If I can say one thing about 2013, it is that I have legitimately worked my ass off. (No, seriously, my ass is smaller than it used to be, I’m pissed). I have held down, at any given time, anywhere between one to four jobs, and at full steam put in 70-80 work weeks. Everything about my life at that time was amazing and miserable simultaneously. You know when people say that they really value work-life balance? Let’s just say I didn’t believe in it. While working these crazy hours, I sacrificed my health, my sanity, friends wondered who the zombie-like brown girl was in the room, and the person in my life took matters into their own hands, and turned off my cellphone, and laptop to just get me to watch a football game with him. This job consumed me. It came to a bit of an abrupt end, which absolutely caught me off guard, but also gave me a healthy dose of reality. I knew what I wanted out of a mentor, a boss, and this person did not fit the bill. Losing that job got me back to BC, (the place of my last missing mojo crisis) but this time I was coming back with my tail between my legs, but my head held high. Part of that mojo loss was placing expectations others had for me, above those of my own. I can’t function that way, especially when those people (the closest to me), do it out of love. I understand their concern, but them worrying about me, and constantly voicing their opinion on the matter became suffocating the last time. I knew that coming in, and asked for my space. Lo and behold, it took a while, but employment came in a tidal wave, and I am glad to say I am finishing off the year in a good place, and in Vancouver, somewhat permanently.*

Love:
Love is a fickle, unforgiving bitch. OK, maybe not totally true, but I have a point! I can honestly say that this past couple of years, I was in love, in lust, and just plain bored. Let’s begin with bored. You know when friends tell you that you should take up a hobby? Maybe actually take up a hobby, and don’t do what I did- date someone as a social experiment, realize you do like them a bit, but not as much as they you, and then brutally dump them hastily before a party because that wasn’t part of the plan. No one likes a bitch, let me tell you. Boy A, let’s call him, met me at a time where someone I like to refer to as “bored-Meera” showed up. She’s got a job, got a good group of friends, and decides to bring in some companionship to boot. Nothing serious, a dalliance, someone to go out with, spend some time with and then say thank you and move along. All-in-all a solid plan, until it blows up in your face. Boy A ended up falling for me a bit, this was a no-no. Not in the plans, and not what I wanted. I chose him for external factors that seemed to be ideally suited for where I was mentally at the time, and then he went and threw the caring wrench into it. Sorry to say, that relationship ended (on relatively good terms), we went our separate ways, and I fell in lust.

Enter #2, Hulk. Here was someone who was smart, funny, loved football (and played it too!), and seemingly loved a lot about me. The duper became the duped here. This is a situation where I thoroughly thought there was something substantial going on with us, assumed the feeling was mutual and never sought to clarify. This went on eight months. Note to future Meera: always clarify, it saves you a lot of time, and a lot of looking like a ass. Had I clarified, this could have been a mutually beneficial situation, instead, I was a little surly and a little upset for a time, but I got over it. I can say, looking back on my time with Hulk, I regret nothing, we were great fun while it lasted, it was nice to feel like a real woman, (my girls know what I mean), and I harbour no grudges. If anything, I thank him for making me realize the massive douche-nozzle (real term, I said so) I was to Boy A up there, and I am better for it.

The final chapter, #3. The one where her guard fell down. Hulk up there, he taught me to not be a jerk, but he also taught me to have my guard up, and not drop it so easily any more. Enter the Magnet. Something about this person has always kept me interested for the greater part of a decade. Be that on a mental, physical, spiritual level. He is the type of person that makes me so furious when we talk because he constantly challenges me on everything, but that can say one word or phrase and I give up. He had said, repeatedly since we had been together that we were going to change each other, whether we intended to or not. The Magnet was 100% correct. My constant questioning of his carefree nature and live in the moment attitude balanced out his lack of observation for the rules of relationships that I adhere to. I fell hard, fast, and absolutely was in denial of it, until it was too late. Magnet is the type of person who says whatever is on his mind about you, and “we” and does not question it. That’s a scary thing, to be presented with someone who cares for you so fiercely that they say, honestly so, they see a future with you. And when in my sarcastic nature challenge them to paint it out, the illustration is so realistic is scares the shit out of you. As we know, I am the take what you say with a grain of salt type person, and Magnet managed to beat that side out of me. I began to believe him, and eventually I saw it too, clearly. I told him I finally got what he was talking about, and I was in. If you could have seen the look on his face, it was like a kid that was just told “hey, it’s Christmas morning everyday for a year, oh, and you can eat ice cream for breakfast too”. His reaction to my revelation? “Finally, now I’m not the only one in this.”  You know it’s a bad break-up when I’m the one trying to hold back an all out sob because he emailed you to end things because shit got real for him. That’s when I knew precisely how bad it was. I don’t cry over men, I haven’t in a while, because I’m just as happy in a relationship as I am out. This just pulled the rug out from under me. Suddenly all of the trials I had been through the past year or two didn’t matter as much. My heart dropped, my breath went shallow: no, not him. It was a slap in the face, and kick in the gut at the same time. And moreover, email? WHO THE HELL DOES THAT? He was right, our relationship did change me, he gave me a sense of clarity in what I want in a partner, he also cleared up the what I don’ts. So, thank you Magnet, for finally answering the what-if. Our timing has, and likely always will be off, but I know I think perhaps you were more caught up in the idea of us than the reality of us. We will always be messy, complicated, tricky to navigate, and it could be glorious, or a disaster. We both knew there would be no in-between. Because, if you weren’t, you’d have stayed and fought. Let’s face it, you’re the first person who ever told me I was worth fighting for, and fortunately, that is the one thing that has not changed.

This verbal rant fills the void of blog posts from the fall, (see above writings for reasonings why), and also serves as a verbal confirmation that yes, I am doing all right, thank you. So 2014, I look to you for bigger, better and more enlightening occurrences.  Until then, enough real talk, I have a spiked hot chocolate with my name on it waiting for me.

I leave you with words of wisdom sent to me from the aforementioned best friend and bride of earlier this year:

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Having Pushy Friends Probably Saved My Life (Or How I Got My Groove Back).

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Anyone that knows me can vouch for the fact that moving back to Vancouver after university changed me, for better or for worse. That diagnosis depends on who you talk to. I would side with “for worse”. Something about being home eventually made me lose a pretty big piece of myself. My confidence dwindled, my fire went out.

I have long suspected that my friends are superior to most. For some unknown reason, my gut and my sense of personal judgement have allowed me to gravitate toward some amazing people. The past six months have only highlighted the fact that I have made great judgement calls in that regard. Since moving back east I have regained that sense of self that I thought had left me forever. Thanks, almost fully to having pushy friends. Two in particular, and you know who you are. One convinced me to get on a plane, fed and sheltered me. The other kept me sane, my head above water and constantly refused to let me give up myself or have a pity party for one.

No offense intended to friend number one, but it’s friend two I need to praise and thank right now. This person has constantly found ways of encouraging me and supporting me even when I had nothing left. Today, I want to acknowledge and thank them profusely for their everlasting faith in my abilities and tenacity, lord knows I had no idea I had the capacity to land on my feet in such a way. I am going to reference excerpts of an email they wrote me in the summer, picking me up from the bottom of the barrel and putting me back on the right path.

Question posed: What do you think is my greatest strength?

“Joking aside, and I know this is going to come as a shock to you, but I think your greatest strength is your self. You know who you are. You are one of the most adult people I know. Everyone knows how they stand with you. You are up-front and straightforward.

 When I met you I knew you were one of those girls, and there aren’t many of them, who is good in relationships but at the same time isn’t quivering when she is alone. You are strong enough to be happy in either without being swallowed up in any extreme. You know your self, and what you are as a human being. Most people discover only the peripheral of themselves until they are faced with death. You are different. You understand what is funny. You know what makes you happy. You know about friendship and love and heartache and life. You have a sort of gravity, even when you are making light of something, that shows people your depth and level of understanding.  

I think this is your greatest strength because it is what makes you strong and able to resist peer pressure, and the pressures of life. Most people ask themselves “what would Jesus (or some other religious leader) do?” (Or, in my case, “What would Barney Stinson Do?”). I like to think that you ask yourself “What Would Almeera Do?” Then….you do that.”

Question: What do you think I should let go of?

I think you should let go of worry. I think you should let go of the American insanity that seems to pervade our culture and embrace the European worry-free mentality that is their trademark. You consciously try to do a lot, and to push hard and push yourself, but I don’t know if you require that propulsion to be amazing. Honestly, that’s my only advice to you. Let go. Just let go in general. You won’t fall if you let go of the ledge, you will just float away from the wall. You aren’t hanging off a cliff, you are in a pool of water. Take a breath and relax those fingers and feel your own natural buoyancy keep you afloat. What would Almeera do? She would just chill and lean back and have complete understanding that she can just float on her back and smile in the sun. 

 

You see? You don’t need to worry because of who you are as a person. You are talented and smart and strong. I hope to have daughters like you. You are cool and chic but oh so smart. I don’t have the worry that you will end up marrying the wrong person or finding yourself in completely the wrong area of your life because you are only going to do what is smart. You are only going to do what is Almeera approved. You don’t need other people’s approval. You don’t need to be patted on the head – you pat your own head, while holding other people’s hands and helping them through life. 

What do you wish I was less of, for my sake?

Shortsighted? (See Last Question).

What do you think I could give myself more credit for or celebrate more?

How far you’ve come in life. 

Here’s my theory. Hillary Clinton was pretty awesome when she was young. She had to have been pretty awesome, otherwise she never would have grown up to secretary of state, first lady, and all around champ. Obviously she didn’t know where she was going to end up through it all, but she must have known that she was awesome. She must have had some impression that she was smarter than others around her and that she could go pretty far in life. Now – assume that Secretary of State Hillary remembers the Hillary who has finished school and had some hard days when she was around 30 years old. Being a bit lost, or having trouble with something. I think that, if she remembers the struggles that everyone faces, she would start to laugh and smile in remembrance of how shortsighted she must seem to herself at 30. She wishes she could send a note to herself back in time. The note would read “don’t worry about the little things in life, or the month you feel a little bit lost or adrift….you are going to be both first lady and secretary of state. Also, you are going to be super rich. P.S. Definitely cheat on Bill Clinton.” 

This is why you should cheat on Bill Clinton. Errr. I mean – this is why you shouldn’t think of your life in days or weeks or months. You should think of it in acts, or decades, or as a long and unbroken journey. You can’t understand the first or last chapters without the whole story. 

This is, in essence, why I don’t think you’ve lost your mojo. I know that your mojo is YOU. When you are in the right place, or the right circumstances present themselves, you are yourself. Know why – you are always yourself. It, honestly, is just a weird phase. Read some letters from future Meera. She knows a lot of shit. She would write you the most humbling and compelling letter ever written. Something you would read and make your personal manifesto. It would read just like the last paragraph of this email. (Although hers would be better). ***Don’t skip ahead and read the last paragraph!

This is why I say that you shouldn’t be shortsighted. Because future Almeera is way smarter than current people. She has the answers. You have to know that you are her – and she is you. (I also ghost-write for Maya Angelou in my spare time). 

Your half-remembered rendition of “Walking in Memphis” is still the best version I’ve ever heard. A life half lived well far exceeds three whole lives where there is no understanding of the things that makes a self whole and life complete. 

I want you to feel three things (with this letter, and with life): Celebrated, Supported, and Good. Meeri, I love you. You are great. You are strong and kind and warm. I want my friends to be like you. I want to be like you. I want my daughters to be like you. I want them to know that their lives hold promise and strength and that they are limitless in their capacity to love and obtain knowledge and know the beauty in living. I want them to know what you know – that you can live with grace and humility. That being beautiful and smart is possible simultaneously. That if you are good then good people will find you. That you can recover from the bad things in life just by being open to the good. I think that the word Almeera should be written in music notes.

With an opus like that, how can you deny I haven’t made great life choices in the friend category? I remember the day I got that email. I cried because I didn’t believe a word of it. It’s been seven months since that landed in my inbox, and I and now beginning to see glimpses of that person my friend talked about. I can’t deny the fact it’s a great feeling to think that you are actually living up to the idea of yourself. Hopefully this is something I can continue to build upon on the days and weeks to come. I am getting back to the person I thought I was once upon a time, and with the gentle nudge of a friend or two, that wouldn’t be possible.

So, you obviously know who you are. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

It’s OK! Unplug, and pick up a book. (Or, why I took the 50 Book Pledge)

I love reading, I always have. However, at some point in my late teens to early twenties this hobby went the way of the dodo. I think life decided to occupy my time with other adventures. No matter what, somehow every summer I would manage to tear through a good chunk of novels, re-reading old favourites and discovering new ones, alike. I am a person with a set of “traditions” when it comes to books. I absolutely must read Wuthering Heights every Christmas, Pride and Prejudice every spring, and to quench my inner child and fangirl, I re-read every Harry Potter novel prior to the release of each film installment. Nerdy? Yes. A non-negotiable? You bet. In between the repeats, I manage to get my hands on new authors, new books by beloved authors, and hand-me-down from people I know.

There’s absolutely no replacement for an amazing, imaginative story. Think back to your childhood, and I guarantee you will recall a picture book or early novel that is engrained in your memories. For me, that novel, or rather, collection of stories is The World of Pooh by A. A. Milne. My 5th grade teacher switched out two of our silent reading blocks every week for read aloud story time. I’m not sure if it was the fervour with which he narrated the adventures of Christopher Robin and Winnie the Pooh, or his palpable joy in the stories themselves that entranced me. Either way, I was done for: hook, line and sinker; a book-worm was born. It also helped that our elementary school had one of the most passionate librarians around. She actually listened to every students’ idea of their perfect story, and set out to find it. Swashbuckling pirates? No problem, Robinson Crusoe is your man! Creepy, crawler thrillers? R. L. Stein, meet your audience.

Maybe it was a combination of passionate teachers and librarians that got me hooked, I’ll never really know. What I do know, and fear is that this generation, (mine), is increasingly unable to disconnect. I mean that in a figurative and literal sense. We are always plugged in. I will be the first to admit that I have a disturbing reliance on my phone, computer, internet connection and T.V.; when the power goes out, I freak out. It was during one such outage and its resulting restlessness and junkie-in-withdrawl behaviour on my part that I realized this had to stop. I found our stash of emergency candles, grabbed a glass of water, a book, a blanket and sat my sorry-technologically-connected butt down. The next thing I knew, it was four hours later, the power had returned about two and a half hours prior and I was on chapter 14 of 37 in my book. I didn’t even flinch. In fact, when I did resurface from my novel, I went up to my computer, turned it off, put my phone down to charge, and sat down to finish my book. It was the best afternoon and evening I had in about six months. Soon, I would begin to get to bed earlier, in an effort to sneak in a few pre-slumber chapters of that week’s literary work. My love affair was rekindled.

As luck would have it, around the holidays this year, a former co-worker and fellow alumni told me about her 50 Book Pledge. She had made the pledge last year, and read right down to the wire, and loved every minute of it. Thinking back on my own year, I calculated I was in the same ball park as well, I just hadn’t kept track of any of the books I read. To this day, there are some I can’t remember having read, then painfully realize once I am a chapter in, that I have. (Thank goodness for the local library!) I decided to take the plunge, and put my money where my mouth is, signing myself up as well, in the official sense. In an extra effort to motivate myself, I published this pledge on my blog, and created a page solely for the purpose of tracking my progress and my rating of each book.

Since the start of 2012, I’ve been slowly and discreetly informing friends and family that I have signed up for the Savvy Reader’s 50 Book Pledge. I say discreetly with conviction: I have been finding ways to casually bring up reading and/or novels into the vast majority of my conversations in an effort to pick my friend’s brains for their thoughts about their current literature choices. Consequently, they knowingly and unknowingly from my “To-Read” list. This is not a new tactic for me: for quite some time, I’ve slowly become the go-to “hey! what should I read?”; “do you have a book I can borrow?”; “I’m going on vacation, need beach reads, STAT” person in my social circle.

This role has developed itself slowly, but surely since university at Carleton. By the time my final year rolled around, let’s face it, I was sick of reading on average 400-600 pages of mind-numbing-theory-based-drivel on a weekly basis. (In hindsight, this probably explains my elective choices of History at the Movies, Italian, and the Social History of Alcohol still my top three courses in university). Back to my mushy mind; I started picking up whatever book  not assigned in a syllabus that I could get my hands on. By spring, I had realized something: between September and April, I had read, in addition to all of my coursework, 32 books of varying genres. Do the math; that is 32 books in eight months: four books a month, for a full-time student who also held down a part-time job averaging 20 hours a week. At that rate I would devour 48 no problem. A-ha! A goal was formed: hit 50 books that year. Since then, (2009), I have more-or-less kept up that pace; give or take one or two. Along the way, I’ve converted skeptics into readers; and hopefully reminded them that sometimes, it’s OK to unplug, escape, and be a kid again.

A little perspective…

*This is a completely off-the-cuff post. It is interrupting a pre-scheduled and outlined posting purely because I am in a good mood.*

I love questions that make you think. As much as I shy away from them, and attempt to give the stock-pile answers, I love being challenged to come up with a truly honest response, if posed by the right person. You all know where I am coming from with this: you’ll engage in a hearty debate, if you feel free of judgement, providing wrong answers, or coming off as a court jester. It’s for this reason that I love my friends. (No offence meant to the family reading this, but it’s true). It’s just a different feeling to verbally spar with someone on the same page as you, mentally, emotionally, life-wise.

It was an ordinary conversation I had with an extra-ordinary friend that got me thinking about all this. We were just doing the rounds, catching up on love, life and everything in between, when for some reason, they asked me if the series of fortunate events that led to our meeting hadn’t taken place, did I think we still would have met? In a perfect world, (and in reality) my immediate answer was yes. I held out hope, that some way, some how we would have crossed paths. They countered with, “think about it, so many different factors had to fall in to place for us to meet. One missed bus, a wrong turn, deciding to forego a concert. All of these would have halted us meeting. If not at that concert in the winter of 2010 in downtown Vancouver; when else, given what we know of each other, where or how could we have possibly met?” They had a point. We would not have met, end of story. Nothing about the lives we were leading at the time in any way intersected. Don’t get me wrong, I am truly happy things turned out as they have, but I shudder to think of life sans said friend, which could have been a real possibility.

Let me outline this series of “fortunate” events, so you can truly grasp how much luck had to do with this. In order to do so, we have to go back to Ottawa, in 2005, in a dorm room. Early in to the fall semester, I came to the upsetting realization that I lived across the hall from a musician. I love musicians, you all know that. However, this one played the trumpet, at strange hours of the day, without a mute. Writing a paper, I was fed up with the sounds of brass passing through 4 shut doors and a hallway, and marched across the hall to let the culprit have it. It was then he turned down a DVD he was watching of a British jazz musician. I grabbed a chair, and finished watching it with him- I was hooked. Fast-foward to March 2010, I find out that the British jazz musician is coming to Vancouver for a show, and look up that long-lost hall-mate from Ottawa. Yes! He’s living in Vancouver, and would love to go. We agree to meet, outside the venue in line to get in. March 20th, the day of the event, I rush downtown, barely making it at our determined meet time, he’s in line, and chatting to someone whom I think is a friend of his. Outgoing as I am, I hop into the conversation, hit it off with the random friend, and we all head in to the concert together. Ladies and gents, that random friend was no friend at all. The two had met in the line outside, maybe 10 minutes prior to my arrival. They were chatting about the artist we were going to see, and a shared passion for jazz, and their mutual trumpet playing prowess. Turns out, that random stranger is now the extra-ordinary friend of mine.

Damn, they were right, looking back, a lot of things had to align for us to have met, and I just covered my side of the story. Forget theirs’. When you add in the fact that my extra-ordinary friend was visiting from the UK, and made a last-minute decision to attend the concert, the odds are slim to none this would have worked out as it did. I wouldn’t have it any other way, that’s something we both can attest to. It is truly one of the great, and organic “meet-cute” moments we get in life. I can only say that I am thankful we had the ability to keep it going, and forge, what I hope is, a life-long friendship from it.

Who would have thought a concert would mash together two people, in similar places in life, with similar personalities (flaws and all)? I sure as heck did not. I most certainly did not think I would turn to that person for reassurance, the odd ego check, and advice. Above all, I did not think they’d be the one to call me on my shit, given that is usually a duty reserved for family (*ahem, sisters*).  Sure, some of my friends reading this do that as well, (and I thank you for it), but not from 8000+ plus miles away, and purely from the intonation in my voice when we’re having a discussion. That eerie talent, leads to some truly frank conversations. No sugar-coating, no letting me figure out my mistakes; rather just pointing them out as I make them. This Brit just calls it, as it happens, regardless of the consequences it may have, of course, this is reciprocated. If anyone is going to give you the truth, it is going to be a friend. Your family will try to put it nicely or use a metaphor to help make their point. I respect that as well, but more often than not, your true “a-ha” moments come from within, or with a little help from your friends.

Tonight was an “a-ha” for me: realizing that when something amazing is put in front of us, it’s up to us to do something about it. To reach out for it, nurture, and develop it. Moments like the one I just outlined, I believe are in all of our lives. I’m sure one or two of you have something just as quirky as this one of mine, or are in the process of having one. Perhaps it didn’t work out as you would have liked, or it evolved into something bigger or better. Wherever you are, and whoever you are, I hope you take a second to think about my story. If you have someone as amazing in your life, or think you do, to take a moment to appreciate how you met them, what led to them popping into your life so unexpectedly, and why not having them around in some capacity would be terrible. If nothing else, it’s Christmas, so stop writing cards, baking, shopping and watching sappy movies for 5 minutes. Think of yourself, check your ego at the door, and seek out a little perspective on your life.

That, friends, is what the holidays should be about. Strip away the parties, the dinners, and religions. Let’s face it, if we were all poor, down trodden, or low on luck, it’s going to be that friend who helps you through. Yes, your family will be there, but there is something about an having that one objective person, who you know will always be in your corner, ready to throw a punch on your behalf, that is the ace up your sleeve we all could use once in a while.

To that extra-ordinary friend, miss you, love you, and I hope you’re still laughing so hard that you started crying when I said something so ridiculous, that neither of us could keep a straight face, this evening.

xo
Meera