14 Months Late: Why I moved to Montreal

I resolved to move to Montreal last July because I was exhausted with letting myself down. From the precocious, pubescent teen to the emo-laden, lovelorn early 20-something to the full-blown, begrudgingly working, professional, through every life stage, I contended with a gnawing desire to ‘get away’. Though, as opportunities came, I watched them pass me by, never once taking the plunge. I stayed firmly planted on the dock, with my toes just barely peeking over the ledge, and my body frozen, draped in naked shame and disappointment. Dramatic metaphor – dramatic point.

Months before my high school graduation, I daydreamed about spending my summer backpacking across Europe, in the hopes of meeting the love of my life in the continent’s many pristine hostels. Then I double checked my Savings Account and — oh yeah, I didn’t have one. Out of curiosity I also researched potential hostels and all that were in my price range were not so much characterized as ‘pristine’ as they were ‘stay the hell away!’

As I started advancing through university, there were two opportunities that I seriously investigated to whisk me away on a jet plane, not knowing when I’d be back again – actually, that’s not accurate, both opportunities had a definite end date, and my mom would’ve gone full-out Liam Neeson to find me if I didn’t return home. Anyway. One was a transfer program to the many, “never-heard-of-them-before” universities that SFU had partnerships with. The other was through the school’s Co-Op program that frequently offered out-of-province/country employment.

With the transfer program, I “seriously” investigated up to the point where the requirements mandated two or more reference letters from professors. Having been a regular embracer of insecurities and self doubt, I never talked in class. To my professors, I was barely a distinguishable speck in the nebulous blanket of Asians covering 85% of their lecture hall. I entertained the thought of approaching a few of the professors that I truly respected and admired, hoping my name would trigger a memory, something to the effect of “oh yes, Shirley Chu – she wrote the that redefining B+ essay two Fall semesters ago” – but I wasn’t brave enough to face the imminent rejection. It was entirely possible that they wouldn’t remember that B+ essay, because, you know, it was a stupid B+.

So that didn’t happen.

Then there were the many co-op opportunities, most of the them with the federal government in Ottawa. I only applied for a handful of positions because the majority of them sounded as interesting as playing with my own vomit. The few that I did apply for never worked out because either 1. they didn’t pay enough to incentivize me to invest more time in my application or 2. when I did take the time to compile a stellar application, I didn’t have enough X to incentivize a job offer.

After I graduated university, I immediately found employment at an advertising agency. Exciting, right? Glamorous? Well, it wasn’t. I won’t delve into the details about how I had nothing to do and spent the day emailing with friends, taking naps at my desk and updating my Xanga, I just won’t. Suffice it to say, I felt that I was at a crossroads again, and was convinced that the next decision I made would be one for life experiences, not professional advancement. So, later that year, I packed away my flares and resolved to wear skinny jeans exclusively. To the start of the hipster era!

In addition to the stand I made for fashion, I also started looking into the SWAP program and planned to spend the first 6 months of the following year in either Europe or Australia. I would work menial jobs, but it’d be enough to finance my weekend getaways and weekday living. I would make a bevy of new friendships and invaluable memories. I proceeded to fill out applications, but before I could send any through for SWAP, I was already signing the dotted line for a career that would keep me in Vancouver for the next 4 years.

So I lied to myself. The next decision I made was without a doubt for professional advancement, though, I was lucky that it also brought with it immeasurable life experiences. Nevertheless, I chose stability.

All this said – I don’t regret my decisions. I found solace in my life choices and believe that God has a purpose for everything. But I still wondered and still yearned to be somewhere else. So I moved to Montreal, on my own, last year. I left my family, my friends, and my boyfriend. Why? Because, at this point, I was still out there on the dock, feeling early stages of hypothermia and needed to take the plunge to stay alive.

Nobody baby, but you and me.

In this moment, you are madly in love with him. In this moment, you can’t imagine life without him. In this moment, the only place you want to be, is here with him. I watched Blue Valentine over the weekend and absolutely adored the film. It was a raw, honest and heart-wrenching portrayal of love – the inception, the fall, the spiral and the implosion.

In the beginning, everything is so easy and effortless. His disgusting quirks are inexplicably adorable. Every love song has the potential to score the first dance on your wedding day. The daily text messages incite your inner butterflies to break into a village dance. You are so, by every definition of the word, happy.

Then, at some point, all of the above becomes a distant longing, or worst, forgotten. Usually not abruptly but often so unwittingly that you’re blindsided when the epiphany strikes.

In that moment, after some elapsed time, wedged between a period of change/defeat/apathy/boredom you realize – you don’t love him anymore. Or maybe he doesn’t love you anymore.

Blue Valentine candidly depicts the aforementioned deterioration. It’s an agonizing watch because it can be so relatable. Whether or not it’s happened to you before, the devastating reality is that it could happen. Love, existing within the pressure cooker of life, can be rendered so tenuous that it becomes an outburst away from permanently waving the white flag. Not every couple is Cindy and Dean, the film’s protagonists, but every couple should know the elation of falling in love. I just hope not everyone endures the devastation of falling out of love. Even Ryan Gosling couldn’t make that look good.

Warning: Do not watch this movie on a first date.

It’s 2:19 AM.

I just re-read every post on this blog. I haven’t written a worthwhile entry in over two years and that breaks my heart. I blame OJ Simpson.

Wow, oh how I’ve missed quasi-eloquently transcribing my internal dialogue to the binary word. I will write again. I need to write again. Someone recently asked me who I wrote all my blogs for? I responded with, “my fans. DUH!” I was joking. I know my only fan in this world is my mom and she barely tolerates me.

This is trite and will ring like an episode of Full House, but I write this – all of this – for me. In reading each post, I recalled everything from my motivation for the entry to the deliberate word choice in a particular sentence. It is amazing how much I learned about myself from reflecting on the moments that I thought were worthy of publicizing.

Okay, enough about me. How about you?

I’m going to update again.

Hello there world. It’s been a long time. I don’t expect things to be the same as they were over a year ago. The economy crashed and burned. America elected a Black president. Michael Jackson’s kids have faces. Lauren Conrad’s ghostwriter topped the New York Time’s Bestsellers list..etc. etc.

We need to reacquaint ourselves with one another. Here’s a quick post to get me back into the game. This is an excerpt from an old journal entry that I found both humorous and self-affirming. In the spirit of openess, I will share it with you.

Date: March 30

Dear Diary,

I liked [insert name], but he did not like me.
I liked [insert different boy’s name], but he did not like me.
What the F is wrong with me those stupid, crackhead, man whores?!

Good morning, Thoughts.

In thinking about the last few months combined with the happenings of the last three years, here’s something I’ve concluded: boys hurt my heart, just like a plate full of bacon, sausages and eggs from Bon’s Off Broadway. You always think you know what you’re doing at the start; you think you’re going to pace yourself and go slow, but then you get caught up in the $2.99 bargain and inhale every morsel of delicious grease. Next thing you know, your chest hurts when you breathe and you think you’re about to die of a heart attack. It’s really just slight indigestion, but you’re melodramatic and think that the pain will kill you.

On the flip side, I hurt boys too. I’ll have an appropriate simile to follow at a later date. I don’t know what it will entail, but it might involve Hitler. He was an awful, awful man. I can be a reckless jackass sometimes and I hate myself for that. But, I still hate Hitler more.

Mid-flight blogging.

I am very thirsty right now, and I don’t know where I stored my bottle of water. All I have is a bag of M&Ms. Did you know that chocolate coated peanuts do not quench thirst? In fact, I think they only exacerbate the predicament. So I’m probably going to die of dehydration. Nevermind. The valiant flight attendant came to my rescue and handed me a cup of water – that I just spilled. Near my laptop. Now, I’ll probably die of electrocution. Oh god, why is all this happening to me?!

So it looks like my pupils have not been very dilated recently (ergo the lack of recent updates here), which is odd, considering the unreal excitement that’s been punctuating my life. I mean, did you not read about my Saturday night rendezvous – with my cubicle?? My head imploded from the awesomeness of the situation. In all seriousness though, while I was logging on to my computer, from my work, at 9:30 PM on a Saturday night, I almost cried. It was a new low, beneath rock bottom, wedged somewhere between Andy Dick and Pauly Shore’s career debacles.

Actually, a lot has been going on. Decisions, my friends. I have to make them and they’re not always as instinctive as “HELLS YEAH, I would like a cup of water!” They’re hard, consuming and uncomfortable. The greater the distress, the more important the decision.

I’m a person who finds solace in fate. This idea that in life, there’s a destiny and everything is pre-determined – every professional milestone, every heartache, every win, every loss, every encounter, every missed connection, every…thing. It’s a way of thought that many regard with indignation because they’re adverse to the idea of relinquishing control. I don’t understand that though. I’m not so much relinquishing control, as I am trying to find a purpose and meaning in life’s outcomes.

I don’t dwell on regrets because I believe everything happens for a reason. The most agonizing part of the process is often the moments leading up to that pivotal fork in the road and then planting your foot on the one path to travel. Living with consequences isn’t easy either, but humanity is great at rationalizing. War is for the greater good. The Olympics will ignite an economic boom. Photoshopping yourself into a celebrity photo is merely a display of raw talent. We learn to live with our decisions, because we have to. Consequences abound, but we still need to sleep at night. Maybe that’s why I hang on to the idea of fate. I think we all do, in some form or another. You might call it something else.

I’m writing this entry because I’m almost 25 and I have serious decisions to make – people to let in my life, professional development to consider, relationships to let go of and more…A season of personal Spring cleaning is upon me and I have a big laundry list of decisions I’ve been putting off. I’ve been too damn scared to make them. A belief in destiny doesn’t preclude the existence of fear.

By the way – I have to pee desperately now and the seatbelt sign is on. Bad call on the water? Probably. See, then there are some decisions that you don’t need to rationalize because they’re insignificant to the bigger picture. That is, unless I peed my pants in the next few minutes, which would probably effectively get me fired (I’m traveling with senior co-workers) and likely be symptomatic of a serious medical illness.

Due for a miracle.

I want to believe – so badly – that I learned some some hugely profound lessons in the last 2.5 years. Ones that have irrevocably transformed me into an assured, independent, confident person; who’s firmly gripping to her sense of self, not willing to compromise her intrinsic worth for the sake of placating.

Recently I’ve been thinking —

— about how much it scares me to my core to even entertain the thought that those 2.5 years of piercing introspection might have been in vain. The idea that I might even exhibit a single semblance of the person I was that night I closed his car door, and walked back into my house, absolutely breaks my heart.

Hi, my name is Shirley and I eat melodrama for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

A series of non-sequitors, sort of.

Today, I had trouble opening a bottle of water during a quasi lunch meeting. So I just stood in the conference room, nonchalantly clutching it, feigning disinterest, all the while desperate for the sweet relief of a single liquid drop to permeate my over salinated mouth. I was very sad. And thirsty.

It’s been a tumultuous start to the new year, textured by delightful peaks and profound valleys. I know that’s trite, but there isn’t a more apt description. The first three months have been christened with a brisk cascade of the ‘new’, sprinkled by memorable glimpses of the ‘old’ and underscored by disappointment from the ‘familiar’.

Three months of visceral living is overwhelming. In the past I was numbed by consuming academic and professional workloads, but this year, I’ve been blessed/cursed with the gift of time. Seconds, minutes and hours of indulging in a moment, rendering it almost palpable. How odd. Moments are usually so fleeting, so intangible. You live them as quickly as they end. That’s why they’re precious. I’ve had too many moments to relive. Over-saturation leads to boredom or in my case, disenchantment.

I’m swept off my feet by the sweet, lyrical lamentations from my favorite lovelorn musicians. They strum to the beat of their every heartache and it’s absolutely breath-taking. Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all? Maybe. I don’t know about that. Some of them are very sad. But so is a lot of world. At least they make provocative music.

Infatuation is so cruel.

Undignified departures are infuriating.

A cryptic post is my catharsis.