5 things I thought would be different when I left home

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It has been almost 10 years since I left home and went out into the wild, scary, unknown world of adulthood living. I feel like I was truly and utterly underprepared for what was out there, and had I known, I’d have pulled a jew-dude (TM) and stayed at home until I was thirty.

But just like with black, there’s really no going back once you have fled the familial nest.

I just had so many misconceptions on what I thought living away from my parents would look like.

skeptical-baby

  1. “I can eat whatever I want!”
    Oh, oh…ohhh how I dream of the lovingly prepared home cooked meals of yesteryear. So angry and angsty was I, when a meal was NOT EXACTLY what I felt like eating, but instead an equal measure of vegetables, meat and grains. MEAT! Do you know how expensive that shit is?! What I would give, to have two middle aged people cooking for me three times a day…
  2. “I can stay up SO late”
    Want to know what I did Friday, Saturday and Sunday night this past weekend? Binge watched The Wire (because I’m about 15 years behind in my television programming at this point). I am a morning person, so around 10/10.30pm I start to fade fast. I used to think living away from my parents would be sooooooo wicked because I could just drink and party and watch movies all night long…Turns out my favourite thing these days is sleep. Yeah. I’m pretty cool actually.

    Screenshot_2016-06-13-09-50-18-1

  3. “I do what I want!”
    So long as it doesn’t cost money. Seriously. Sometimes over the last few years I have had all of the freedom and none of the money (funemployed/between contracts) and other times I have had some of the money and none of the time (J.O.B). When can I have all of the money and all of the freedom? (right…right…when I rob a bank Oceans Eleven style…got it…have you guys SEEN that movie? It just came out recently in 2001)
  4. “I can date whoever I choose!”
    Remember when your parents hated that guy you were dating in High School and you were like IHATEYOUWEAREINLOVEyoudon’tunderstandmeGETOUTOFMYROOM! Yeah well. Turns out they were right. Man when I was single, I would have given my left ovary (she’s the gimpy one I suspect) for my parents to be hovering over my shoulder as I swiped like: “No. No. No. Yes Paris. No he will have a weird thing for feet. No. No. What about that nice boy from the coffee shop?” It turns out I just wanna date guys that my parents will like and not weirdo’s with spider-man face tattoo’s. Go figure.
  5. “I’m going to get a creative job and YOU CAN’T STOP ME!”
    In grade 12 when picking degree time came, my mother said to me: “Do a degree with the name of a job in it” and I laughed in her face as I applied for my Bachelor of Arts. I guess, if you were to squint your eyes, choke yourself a bit until no oxygen went to your brain and then smoked some meth – you could really consider my whole life one elaborate “Art”. “So what do you do Paris?” oh me? I’m Art. Yeah I studied it at University. In reality, life has been interesting in the working world (#noregrets) but I definitely find myself veering more towards the corporate world as I see all my fellow creatives struggling and think fucccckthatshit. Oh you live in a basement apartment with your sibling, sister and co-business partners and you work in a deli 3 days a week but your new album just dropped on myspace? Cool dude, Imma go over here and work on my excel skills though….

So many people I know have babies now. Literally holding an infant a week ago and thinking: “this adorable squishy baby girl is going to slam a door in your face some day.”

I wish I could go back ten years and slap some sense into my 17 year old self. Eat my free meals, get my free laundry, and remind myself that unfortunately…your parents were right. Uh! Gross.

And the Cowardly Lion asked for Courage

I always loosely refer to the reasons I decided to stay in North America. I write about it mostly in a jokey way, making light of the cultural differences between Australians and Canadians, social commentaries on Torontonians, and the little idiosyncrasies of adapting to a lifestyle far from the those of my childhood and early adulthood.
When I meet new people, they all quickly pick up on the foreign accent, and ask me inevitable personal questions like:

“Were are you from?”

Which can then migrate to much more personal questions very quickly, such as:

“Do you miss your family?”

“How long are you staying?”

“Don’t you get homesick?”

                                                                                                                                        “What made you decide to stay here?”

“Isn’t it hard?”                

A lot of times, the conversations about me being in Toronto will end with the interviewers pronouncement of:

“Wow! I could never do that!”

or

“I’m so jealous! I wish I was brave enough to just pick up and go.”

I appreciate that people find my journey and life experience interesting (if I didn’t, I wouldn’t keep a blog), but sometimes I feel like I am an exhibit in the Zoo, even more so than I did when I lived in Australia, (where I had the right accent) and in Asia, (where there was a large community of expats I fit into.)

The truth of the matter is, I am not especially brave.

“Yes. I do miss my family.
Every single day.
They are my foundation.
A collection of my best friends.
A huge part of my life.”

“I don’t know how long I am staying.
It’s an adventure.
It could be a year. It could be ten.
I haven’t put a time limit on myself.”

“Yes. I do get homesick.
Of course I do.
How could I not?
I miss the familiar,
My friends,
My Cat,
My favourite Coffee shop.”

“I chose to stay in Toronto because I like Canada.
I had the visa, I knew of a job I could get.
I knew of an apartment for rent.
It seemed like the easiest option at the time.
It saved me the cost of the flight home.
It was different.
Something new and exciting.”

“Yes. It is hard.”

And when people tell me they could never do it, or that they wish they were brave enough, I smile politely and make some kind of socially appropriate remark, but really I want to make a face like:

Because I don’t feel so brave.

I have huge meltdowns. I cry, and I think about packing it all up and going home, regularly. There are days where I speak to members of my family and it’s so great to hear their voice or see their faces over Skype, but when they are gone, when we hang up, I feel empty and far away from their every day lives, and I hate it, and have to ask myself repeatedly what I am doing with my life.

Some day’s there is a crushing sense of loneliness, and I realize just how far away from the people I love I am. It hits me that my friends in Australia and Hong Kong, and I, are drifting apart, and that the places I loved are not the same now as they are in my memory. We’re all growing up and changing.

I know from experience, that the first year is the hardest, when you move to a new place. I’m getting there (it will be a year in June), but for now I’m kind of trapped in that place in-between. Things aren’t totally new and shiny, but I still get frustrated because I don’t know simple things everybody else seems to know, and I can still get so, so, lost. I hate feeling like such an outsider, when every day I feel more and more like I belong.

Rationally, I know it’s a process. On a human level, that is difficult to take day after day.

It’s exhausting and emotionally draining, and I feel like this:

So what is the alternative you ask? If it is so hard, why don’t I just go back where it is familiar and easy.

And the answer is, because if you always do what you’ve always done, you will always get what you’ve always gotten.
And the thought of that unchanging routine, scares me more, would be more damaging to my soul, than the difficulties and hardships of trying to break in somewhere new.

That is the reality which keeps me struggling through the tough bits day by day, because even though it is hard, the reward is adventure, experiences, fantastic stories to tell. The new and exciting contribute to my creativity. The hardships and adversity help me face other challenges in different aspects of my life.

My attitude is if I can move to Toronto with a backpack, $1000, and the will to make it work, then really, I can do anything.

I guess that’s a little bit brave.

P

(dedicated to JS for reminding me)