My Roaring Twenties
A short story of the last decade of my life
I remember sitting at my mom’s kitchen table when I was 16, having a conversation with her and my older sister about life. I was speaking about life; they were speaking abut University. I was trying to convey this desire I had for the world. Even now I’m not sure how to put it into words, only that I knew there was more to life than Winnipeg, and that I was meant for greater things, that I didn’t belong in one place. To this day, sometimes the thought of only existing in one place is suffocating to me.
When I was 19 I moved out of my mom’s apartment and got a place of my own with a girl I worked with. I only moved a block away, but it was my first step in my quest to experience the whole wide world. I was just about to turn 20, I was going to University full time but was more enthralled with my job. At the time retail was glamorous; the clothes, the fashion. The people I worked with, all of whom were in their mid to late twenties, were the most interesting creative people I had ever met. They inspired me, inspired the independence I sought. I took a promotion and cut school down to part time.
At 22 I ended my first relationship. It had lasted six years, far longer than it should have. It was toxic and took me away from my family and friends. I carry deep guilt for having hurt my mother, for having disappointed her. I walked away, and never looked back. I tasted freedom and let it consume me. I took another promotion and quit school altogether. I bought a car and got my own apartment.
As my first relationship ended I met someone. It was the last thing I expected or even hoped for. All I wanted was my freedom and to make up for time lost. He was unlike anyone I had ever know. He existed in an entirely different world than mine, and I wanted in. A world with cabins and boats, and people who went to University instead of dealing drugs on the corner of Osborne and River. We read the same books, he played sports, loved to travel. He lived his life with a passion to match my own. His eyes were bright and alive, and he looked at me the way every girl wants to be looked at (to borrow from Fitzgerald) with amazement and wonder, as though he were asking himself if I was real or a dream. Before I was even aware that I had fallen in love, I was heartbroken.
It was this heartbreak that stole my freedom from me.
The next four years were a blur of self destructiveness; I drank too much, partied too hard, and encountered too many nameless forgettable faces. I told myself I didn’t give a shit about anyone but me. I told myself I was free. I could go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted, be with whomever I wanted. What I know now of freedom is that it involves being at peace, and I was not.
At 25 I experienced a mid-midlife crisis. I couldn’t continue living the way I had been, life was too fast, too hard, and too empty. I had moved three times in those four years and now all I wanted was stability and quiet. I had wrestled with depression on and off throughout until I remembered I was strong enough and the only one who could save me. It was time for me to get back to myself; the girl with goals and a plan and a future to pursue. After taking a month off of work in January I finally quit my job of 8 years that August and went back to University to finish my degree at the age of 26.
I thought I had learned lessons; I was more than happy to be on my own. I had been single for four years. At the beginning it was tumultuous, a string of nobodies to distract from the one somebody I wanted so bad. As I calmed my life and surrounded myself with quiet I learned to appreciate my own company and came to desire that more than the company of any other. I loved being back in school, I was committed and it paid off in straight A’s. I was thrilled to feel passion again in my life.
I don’t know how to write the rest of this. It’s somehow still too soon. How do you sum up an almost 3-year long relationship in a sentence? I know I did it with the 6-year long relationship, I guess that’s saying a lot. But this one was different, it was real. With him dreams had a chance of coming to life. I had spent so long chasing someone, and waiting for someone who didn’t want me. We existed only in fantasies and the inner workings of my mind. But now there was a real person before me, a long time friend turned into so much more. We didn’t have dreams, we had goals, and they were within reach. I chased after them with everything I had, blindly. I had no idea what I was up against. A kind and warm soul trapped and consumed… It was the most real love that I had ever had, the truest and deepest. Then it was gone.
And the girl who wanted the whole wide world…well she finally got it.
Freedom…it comes at a very high price. And the phrase ‘be careful what you wish for’ is not without meaning. I let the heartbreak tear me into a million pieces. I knew I wanted to put myself back together.
Just after turning 29 I moved to Italy.
And so the final year of my roaring twenties is being spent here, in a tiny Italian town in Salento, in my tiny apartment, writing away, healing, learning, growing, travelling. As a new decade of my life beckons, I am more committed to myself than I ever have been. I am more at peace, I have learned forgiveness, and I am learning about love in a whole different way; loving myself, the love of deep and meaningful forever friendships, the love that can be found everyday in enjoying the simplest gifts from the universe.
The last decade of my life was insane. As I read through this piece I know that for each paragraph I could have written anywhere between two and ten pages. My twenties were lived thoroughly, in overdrive. Now I understand that I live in the extremes. I live my life ferociously, never settling, never able to stay still in discomfort, always propelling myself forward. Through all of the excitement, the adventure, the heartache, the chaos, one thing is absolutely true and has never been more clear to me; I truly am a passionate being.