Archive for October, 2010


Permanence

I’m going to be brief tonight:

Permanence is a rare quality. The vast majority of people, places, and things that you encounter only make short cameos in your life before going away forever. If you happen upon someone, or someplace, or something permanent, grab onto it with all your might, and never let go.

Flawed Memory

When I was about six or seven years old, I went to this sports-oriented day camp in the summer. On the first day of camp, I was approached by a boy my age.

"Hi," he said. "Do you want to be friends?"

"How can we be friends if I don’t even know if I like you?" was my response. Or words to that effect.

He blinked, and repeated himself. "Do you want to be friends?"

"We’ll see," I said. "I’ll let you know once I know you better."

And he walked away.

As the week went on, me and this kid ended up really disliking each other. He was just a general douchebag to me, and so I was just a general douchebag back. And that seemed to confirm what I knew all along: You need to know someone well before you become friends with them. Had I agreed to become friends with this kid on the first day of camp, I would have ended up having a jerk as a friend. And that would have been bad.

For years I used this as a basis for making friends. Ten year old me would wisely tell his peers "You can’t become friends with someone until you know what they’re like. I remember this one time…"

And until this past week, it never once occurred to me that maybe the reason that this kid was a douchebag to me is that I snubbed him on the first day. I mean, we were both new to the camp, and I told him that I didn’t want to be friends with him yet. That’s about as much of a dick move as seven year old me was capable of. I just didn’t realize how much of a dick I was until now. Maybe if I had just said "yes" like a normal seven year old, he wouldn’t have been a douchebag to me at all. Maybe I would’ve had another friend for that week.

I don’t know why this long-buried memory occurred to me all of the sudden this week. It’s not really a significant event in my life.

I guess what strikes me is that for well over a decade I had a completely screwed up perception of this event in my head, while at the same time being completely unaware of the fact that I was wrong. I wonder what else I’m wrong about but don’t know it yet.

I don’t even know if those last two sentences make grammatical sense. I don’t even know if this blog makes sense. Whatever, it’s almost 2:30 now. PUBLISH ENTRY BUTTON!

I Will Follow

Have you ever tried following someone? In the literal sense, I mean.

First off, let me be specific. Following someone is different than stalking someone. Stalking is obsessive, premeditated, and usually malicious. Essentially, it’s something that’s done frequently, it’s planned out meticulously, and there’s usually some evil motive behind it.

Following is different. It’s a one-off thing that’s done on the spur of the moment with no malice whatsoever. Curiosity is the only motive, and nothing more.

I don’t make a habit out of following random strangers, but I’d be lying if I said that I never do it. Sometimes you see someone so interesting that you just feel compelled to follow them and see where they’re going.

Like yesterday. After history class I saw a person about my age heading in a strange direction. Essentially, the geography around the building where my history class is taught allows you to go in two directions: North and South.

But this person took a path to the East, which I hadn’t even known existed. So, having no other classes that day, and wanting to put off writing my essay for as long as possible, I decided to follow the person.

You’ll notice that I’m awkwardly using "the person" instead of replacing it with one of two helpful pronouns, "he" or "she". Well, to be honest, I’m not sure which of those two pronouns I should be using. The person was right on that borderline between effeminate guy and girl, and I never found out definitively which side the person was on. The hair style would suggest guy, as would the way that the person dressed. But the person’s build and voice would suggest girl. The chest was ambiguous, as was the person’s facial structure.

The whole "mystery gender" thing just added to my curiosity, and cemented my decision to follow. There’s really no skill involved in following someone in an area as crowded as the U of T campus. There are so many people walking around that even if the same person is walking behind you for a kilometre, it’s probably just because they’re going to the same place you are. Obviously you have to keep a safe distance back and never advise the person of your existence, but that’s all pretty straightforward.

Anyhow, the person led me through this hidden path, and it led to a part of campus that I’ve never been before. There was a large field there and a bunch of impressive looking buildings. We went under this bridge, and ended up passing right behind the Provincial Legislature. At that point I decided to make a right turn and head towards the subway, as I was getting hungry. The person continued straight, which was further confusing because there’s almost nothing of interest that’s university-related in that direction. Toronto is a massive city, however, and the person was within 500 metres of Yonge Street, which has just about everything ever invented on it, from restaurants to tattoo parlours to salons to strip clubs. The person could have been going just about anywhere.

The goal of following someone is to learn a little tidbit about some random stranger that you’ll probably never see again. If the person goes into a tattoo parlour for example, you’ve learned something about them right there. It’s a bit of a failure when you follow someone and don’t find out anything about them. The fact that I didn’t even know the person’s gender by the end of it means that it was a really poor day. But hey, that’s life. You win some, you lose some.

It’s not something to make a habit out of, but I think it’s cool to follow someone every now and then. If you’ve got nothing else to do with your day, give it a shot. There’s not much to be gained from it, but nothing to lose either. Try it out.

Deja Vu

Another Thanksgiving, another separation in the family. 

Seriously, what are the odds? Last Thanksgiving I had an uncle and aunt on my father’s side of the family split up, and this year an uncle and aunt on my mother’s side are splitting up. In both cases there’s a young daughter left in the lurch. I’m now running seriously low on uncle/aunt pairings. Fortunately, my last remaining one seems fairly secure, as it’s been running strong for over 15 years now.

I took last year’s separation pretty hard, as evidenced by the blog that I wrote at the time. I think the reason that I took it so hard is that I didn’t see it coming. This time I did sort of see it coming, so I’m not doing too badly with it.

See, the two families never really got along. The language barrier prevented the parents from getting to know each other really well, and within the families certain people were just really distrusting of the other side. As much as I’d like to subscribe to the whole Love Conquers All ideal, it seems to me that it’s an uphill battle when your family doesn’t approve of a relationship. Obviously I don’t know all of the hows or whys, so I can’t say for sure that family tensions are the main reason why this has happened. I’m sure there were many other factors at play as well, some of which may have been more important than the aforementioned family tensions. I’m just stating what I know.

That’ll be all for now. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.