Well, starting an official online journal for the first time in years…. is just a tad bit intimidating.
The first person I informed was my pal lkvy as she is basically the only friend I have that still has a blog. Back in the day – we all had online journals. Most specifically we all had livejournals. I compulsively posted in my livejournal everyday (several posts per day mind you) for over a decade. My posts would vary from confessing dark family secrets to discussing shitty tv shows I was currently obsessed with (Survivor anybody??). I befriended so many people – a few that I am still friends with to this day. Hell, I even met my ex husband on there.
As we discuss my blog, I tell lkvy that it’s surprisingly hard to get started. “It feels like it needs to be super cultivated and perfect. Back then I could talk about some stupid rock and get 5000 comments.”
So of course – my first post really needs to be about a rock.
Luckily I’m a sentimental fool who attaches meaning to things. Especially things I find on the ground in forests, beside a river bed, inside a squat house, on a road trip, during a cute date, and so on. Usually the pieces are not so much about the space it belonged to but more about a memory I want to collect. I have a wooden typography drawer that hangs up in my living room – I fill it up with treasures I have gathered over the years. Almost every single item on there is associated with a person, a memory, a time.
Point is – I have a lot of rocks to talk about!
The oldest rock I have on this drawer shelf thing (which pretty much every East Van queer has hanging up on their wall) would be a curved speckled grey rock I got in grade 11 from my friend – a sweet dutch girl who was just as interested in paganism as I was. “I saw this on the ground and knew you needed it. It reminds me of the moon,” she said. And of course, I took the rock and loved the shit out of it.
Grade 11 – oof, that was a year.
The school I went to the year before was a junior high school (grade 8-10) so we had to change to a new school for grade 11. My two choices were Vic High and Reynolds High. Vic High had a super cool grown up vibe to it because it was only for grade 11 and 12! I walked by that school so many times as a kid – envisioning myself as this very mature teenager who would grace the halls with my presence. Or something like that. The building itself even looked cool. It was old. It had some REAL history to it you know? The hallways had stories.
Reynolds High was a school I didn’t even know about until some of my friends started going there. It was for grade 8-12 and the hallways… probably had some stories but not a cool antique treasure chest full of them like Vic High.
During our last year of junior high – our mom started to seriously date a guy. This was almost unheard of as our mom is someone who does not “do” relationships. As I grew up – she only dated two guys and one girl long enough for me to even notice them. Much to our surprise – with this third relationship – they actually wanted to live together! We were to move to a house that was smack dab in the middle of two school districts so we had our pick.
I was someone who had two types of friends. The friends who I went to school with but didn’t really hang out with too much outside of school. Then there were the friends outside of school that I got in deep shit with. They were all misfits. The kind that would skip school, wander down dark empty streets high as fuck on whatever drug that was our current choice, and we all slowly went mad together. Most of these people went to Reynolds if they weren’t already homeless – so the decision was simple. Reynolds it is!
My sister and I only lasted maybe two months before we dropped out and said fuck it to education. To this day, I am still a high school drop out. I have no diploma or degree. I have absolutely nothing paper-wise to show you. I do have a lot of thoughts about the educational system and the strange concept of intelligence being tied to owning a degree but that’s a whole another post.
My sister and I lived on the second floor. We had our own little den and bathroom sandwiched by two bedrooms. We hosted many drug-fuelled gatherings in that den. Our mom knew but didn’t care. The farthest our mom came up to our floor was mostly up the stairs and that’s about it. By the time we moved out, our bathroom was absolutely destroyed. Filth and dried bits of puke everywhere. Bathtub clogged up by a lovely stagnant pool decorated with dead flies. Our bathroom door was even broken. Our mom couldn’t believe it. But that was our upbringing by the time we reached our teenage years. We were our own islands – barely interacting with each other. My mom on her island of intense mania and suicidal thoughts. My sister on her island of who knows what – only she knows. Me on my island of this unshakeable feeling that I was doomed in every sense of the word. However, my physical island was a lovely one. I surrounded myself with all the things that felt good. My walls were covered by images from ElfQuest (the very reason why I’ve identified as an elf all these years) amongst other heartwarming things. My treasures sitting on all surfaces possible. Beside my bed was this rock – resting on top of my desk.
This rock followed me when my sister and I decided to go hitchhiking around British Columbia with our best friend. We didn’t even ask mom. We told her we were leaving and mom accepted it. She had no power over us. She barely had any to begin with but by this time there was absolutely nothing she could do. I honestly think in some ways she was relieved we left? I had visions of adventure. We would be on the road! Oh all the fascinating places we’d see! We’d meet so many interesting characters! I’d magically escape this increasing sense of doomsday that burrowed its way deep inside my chest – everything will be okay and I will be free!
Alas – my anxiety followed me everywhere (adventure or not). Hitchhiking was stressful. I’m deaf so I can’t exactly just listen to people speaking. I kept having to ask my sister and best friend to interpret. But when friends interpreted back then – it mostly meant that I stayed on the sidelines getting summaries of what’s going on. I was there but not really there. Observing but not understanding as my panic continued to expand – like cells splitting and multiplying.
By the time we reached Kelowna, I felt as if I had aged several years. I wearily told my sister and best friend I’d stay in Kelowna. It became my new home. The parks and beaches. I befriended other street people who would gift me more rocks and trinkets that joined this rock inside my little handsewn tan corduroy pouch that I wore around my neck (you can see it in action in this horrifying photo of my somewhat short-lived phase as a culturally appropriative teenage hippy – make sure to look at my feet).
I lived in Kelowna for a few months before I returned to my hometown and continued to live on the streets there. I could have gone back to my mom’s house right away but I didn’t want to. I wasn’t in a rush to return to an empty house with my mom crying in the basement. I wasn’t ready to lay back in my bed and let the anxious thoughts become louder and louder. I was convinced I was going crazy. I thought I was developing schizophrenia. I was so deeply afraid and staying on the streets felt like I was able to keep running away from a part of myself.
This rock saw it all. It watched all the stupid shit I put myself through. It watched me return, leave, and return home. It watched me as I screamed “if you’re going to keep talking about it then just fucking actually kill yourself!” at my mom. It watched me desperately read through all the library books about mental illness as an attempt to both better understand my mom and myself. It watched me as I diagnosed myself with chronic social anxiety and having it confirmed by doctors. It watched me as I moved all around – first Pennsylvania, then Texas, and then back to Canada. It watched me through my relationships that I’d eventually get up and leave until I didn’t. It watched me as I went to therapy where I finally broke like waves instead of porcelain.
For the past twenty years, this rock from the moon quietly collected my stories from its ever-changing home – from sitting on a desk, to nestling inside my pouch, to resting on top of other treasures in a dish bowl, to staying safe inside my pocket, and now it watches me from this shelf.
So yeah – I guess this rock deserves a post.
PS. I probably didn’t write about rocks back then but I did in fact write a post dedicated to a pumpkin and got… close to 5000 comments.