Archive for August, 2016


I Promise

“What?” I said in disbelief. “No way!”

“Yeah,” she said. “I do it all the time.”

“You sneak out of your house in the middle of the night just to go walking?”

“Yes,” she said nonchalantly.

“I don’t believe you.”

“Then I’ll prove it to you. One day in the middle of the night I’m going to sneak over to your house.”

“You’re crazy,” I said.

“I will.” she said. And then she added two very important words: “I promise.”

“When?” I asked.

“I’m not going to tell you. It’ll be a surprise. That way you’ll have to be ready at all times.”

And I was. I mean, I didn’t spend every night looking out the window in anticipation. But it was something that I thought about from time to time. “I wonder when she’ll come by,” I used to think. “Maybe it’ll be tonight.”

It never happened though.

And really that should come as no surprise. I mean, we were fourteen or fifteen at the time. It’s not easy to sneak out of one’s house when one has protective parents, walk two kilometres across Woodbridge, get the attention of a teenage boy fast asleep on the second floor, and then sneak back in at the break of dawn. Did she seriously plan on doing this, and forget? Or was she just joking, not expecting me to take her seriously? There’s no way to know for sure. But I believed her anyhow, and kept up my hopes for years. She had said “I promise”, after all.

 

It might be childish, but for me saying “I promise” carries a special meaning. I’m very careful about when I say it. Unless I have every intention of carrying the promise out and can’t foresee anything that could stop me, I don’t say it. I say “maybe”, or “we’ll see”, or “I’ll try”.

If I’m confident I might even say “I will”. That’s a little dangerous because if I say that I will do something and then I don’t do it, that means I’ve told a lie. That’s not good, but it’s better than a broken promise.

I think that ascribing some particular meaning to the words “I promise” is probably a good thing, but only if everyone does it. If only some people see promises as something special, then all you’ve got is a basis for miscommunication. Sometimes the end result is feeling a bit disappointed that you weren’t woken up by someone throwing rocks at your window in the middle of the night.

Sometimes it’s a heck of a lot worse.

 

Fun fact: The majority of this entry was actually written over five years ago. I decided to go back and finish it up now because I’d read a book that made me think, among other things, about how people perceive promises.

Why didn’t I finish it five years ago? Well, I was writing it on March 30th, 2011, between 2:00 AM and 3:00 AM. Certain events intervened before I could finish it, and as a result of those events it suddenly became extremely inappropriate to post a story about an ex-girlfriend. Funny timing.

Most of what I find in my Unpublished Archives is either wildly outdated or not reflective of how I feel anymore, but this is an exception. Keep your promises, people.

Slow Burn

It’s been a year now since I struck out on finding an articling position in Toronto during that arduous summer interview process.

I thought for sure by now I’d be fine, that I’d have made peace with how that week went and moved on.

But I haven’t.

I’m still so goddamn angry at myself.

What gets to me is how close I was. If I’d been completely blown out of the water last year and missed by a mile, I think I could have accepted what happened more easily.

But I was so close. So, so close. If I could go back to August 11th and change just one answer in one of my interviews, I’d probably be working in Toronto right now. That’s how close I was. Let me change two answers in that interview and there’s no doubt about it.

It’s not that articling has gone poorly for me in Kingston. It hasn’t. On the whole it’s been a positive experience.

Nevertheless, I don’t want to be here. Getting this job rather than one in Toronto has resulted in a whole slew of problems, not the least of which is that come January I’m going to have to start the process of finding a job all over again – this time whilst working full time.

And all of this could have been avoided if not for one stupid answer in one interview.

So no, I’m not over it yet. Check back in another year.

Liberation – Part 2/2

There were many, many great things about Floor 12. But the greatest of these great things was that I didn’t feel the need to dramatically change myself at any point. Very early on in that year, it became clear that there was nothing to hide.

People liked me for who I was.

It was such a relief. The weight of carrying the expectations of my peers faded away during that year. I didn’t have to waste energy on maintaining any fa├žade. I could just exist. I’ve never felt so free.

Since then, it’s been a downward trend. Ever year, I’ve been surrounded by fewer and fewer people who liked me for me, and so I’ve fallen back into old habits; doing whatever I think other people would like me to do instead of what I’d like to do.

The thing is, this year I’m completely alone. Completely. There isn’t anyone who knows me well within 200 kilometres of here. Other than sporadic text conversations and phone calls to my family, 7:00 marks the end of my day as far as human interaction is concerned. From that point until I go to sleep five hours later, it’s just me.

In a strange way though… it’s been liberating.

For those five hours, I’m completely free. There’s no schoolwork to worry about. My family is far away. My friends are far away. My girlfriend is far away, though that’s nothing new. More to the point, she’s asleep.

As a result, for those five hours there’s absolutely no one to impress. Even if I want to spend that time blindly meeting everyone else’s expectations, I can’t – there’s no one around to have any expectations in the first place. I can do whatever I want, and no one can look down on me for it or tell me that I ought to be doing something else.

For the first time in years, I feel like I can just be me.

And despite the loneliness and the difficulties I sometimes have being alone with my thoughts, maybe this isn’t such a bad thing.

Maybe it’ll teach me that it’s okay to be a little more selfish, and do the things that I want to do instead of holding myself back because heaven forbid my parents/girlfriend/friends aren’t amused.

Or maybe I’ll snap by October.